10 Questions for Daniel Yankelovich: Founder, Viewpoint Learning

Named by PR Week as one of the 10 most influential people of the past century in the arena of public affairs, communications, and public relations, Dan Yankelovich has spent more than a half-century monitoring social change and public opinion in America.

Well known for having initiated the New York Times/Yankelovich poll in the 1970s, Yankelovich also founded a number of business and social research organizations, including Yankelovich, Skelly and White (1958), Public Agenda (1975), DYG Inc. (1987) and in 1999, here in La Jolla, he founded his newest firm, Viewpoint Learning, which develops specialized dialogues for business and public policy.

He is currently on the advisory board to the Blackstone Group/Toyota and is a trustee of the UCSD Foundation and the Concord Coalition. He is director emeritus of CBS, USWEST and the Meredith Corporation, and trustee emeritus of Brown University, the Kettering Foundation and the Educational Testing Service (ETS) where he also served as chairman.

Q: What brought you to La Jolla?

We were looking for a place to create a new life, and after visiting a friend here, we bonded with La Jolla immediately.

Q: What makes La Jolla special to you?

The physical beauty (the ocean, the flowers, the light, tranquillity). UCSD. The people who live here.

Q: If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

I would add a Zabar’s, subtract half the cars and improve the behavior of the seagulls.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

Acts of kindness. People who put others ahead of their own egos. The amazing ability of people to learn and to love. The miracle of music.

Q: If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

I would invite eight recently deceased thinkers who helped to shape my own world view. They are: Richard Rorty, Isaiah Berlin, Hannah Arendt, W.V. Quine, Irving Howe, John Berryman, A.N. Whitehead and Charles Nathanson.

Q: Tell us about what you are currently reading.

“Leaderless Jihad,” Marc Sagerman; “The Metaphysical Club,” Louis Menand; “Intuition,” Allegra Goodman; “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” Tracy Kidder

Q: What is your most prized possession?

The experience of love.

Q: What do you do for fun?

Think, read, walk along the ocean; listen to people who have good ideas to share.

Q: Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

A few of the books I’ve written and organizations I’ve had the privilege of founding.

Q: What is your motto or philosophy of life?

To conceive of life as a journey and a quest: a journey to the far edges of experience, and a quest to bring mind and heart together.