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Power Sheet – June 2, 2016

To all the brand new college graduates who majored in a liberal arts field, I have a message: If you want to be a leader, you did the right thing.

This is a controversial message at a time when every village and town seems to be offering coding classes for kindergarteners and America’s dearth of STEM majors is conventionally viewed as a serious problem. None of that is wrong. Coding is becoming the literacy of the modern economy, and everyone should be conversant with it. Companies in energy, IT, and other fields want to hire more good STEM majors than they can find; of course they want a larger supply. Along the way, liberal arts have become desperately uncool except among a band of earnest evangelists who argue that it’s a solid foundation for whatever else a young person may want to do.

The thing is, the evangelists are right, especially with regard to leadership. “Look, the Army for a long time, many of the services have been looking for some very technical-type majors coming out of schools to deal with the technically advanced army that we have,” Lt. Col. Peter Godfrin, who heads Harvard’s Army ROTC program, told the Harvard Gazette recently. “But just from the conflicts that we’ve seen in recent years, the technological advances only get us so far. We need to be able to communicate and negotiate with folks; we need folks at the highest levels who can think through complex problems because … unfortunately, warfare is a human endeavor.” Colin Dickinson, a Navy officer who majored in economics, told the Gazette, “I can honestly say that I have drawn upon my learning in everything from marine biology to the tales of Homer in my attempt to best serve my sailors and lead them to success.”

What’s true for the military is true more broadly. David Kalt, an entrepreneur whose latest venture is an online musical instruments exchange called Reverb.com, wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that “our chief operating officer is a brilliant, self­-taught engineer with a degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago. His determination and critical-thinking skills empower him to leverage the power of technology without getting bogged down by it. His background gives him the soft skills – the people skills – that make him stand out as someone who understands our customers and knows how to bring the staff along.” Kalt spent years urging students to major in computer science and engineering rather than liberal arts. But his recent article is called “Why I Was Wrong About Liberal-Arts Majors.”

Advice on choosing a major obviously isn’t useful for new graduates, so here’s a message for students about to enter college: College isn’t trade school. Whether you major in a liberal arts field or STEM or anything else, you emerge not with the skills that will make you successful at a specific company but rather with a foundation for more learning. As advancing technology takes over more of the world’s left-brain work, the skills of deep human interaction, of leadership, are increasingly in demand. What a liberal arts education gives you – critical thinking, clear communication, the lessons of Homer – is growing more valuable, not less.

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What We’re Reading Today

Automakers still using defective Takata airbags in new cars 

Sergio Marchionne‘s Fiat Chrysler, Matthias Müller‘s Volkswagen, Akio Toyoda‘s Toyota, and Ken Kobayashi‘s Mitsubishi all say they’re still manufacturing new cars with Takata airbags that have been linked to 10 deaths in the U.S. Regulators have approved the temporary move because there’s a shortage of replacements; cars with these airbags will be recalled by 2018. The news highlights the widespread confusion surrounding the massive recall by Shigehisa Takada‘s company, the largest-ever U.S. automotive recall.  NBC News

Governor’s testimony highlights Alabama’s leadership struggle

Gov. Robert Bentley testified in an Alabama court that the state’s House Speaker, Mike Hubbard, had spoken with him about economic projects that would aid Hubbard’s business clients. The testimony in Hubbard’s corruption trial comes as the governor faces calls for impeachment related to recordings of conversations with a female aide. And Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore faces calls for his removal from office over potential ethical violations.  ABC News

Hillary Clinton to attack Trump’s foreign policy

While facing a tough primary fight against Bernie Sanders in California, Hillary Clinton will turn her attention to Donald Trump today. In a speech, she’s expected to attack the likely GOP nominee on his foreign policy knowledge and experience. The speech may signal how she plans to combat Trump in the general election.  Fortune

Uber grabs $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia

The funding from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is its largest investment ever in a private company. For Travis Kalanick‘s Uber, it raises total investment in the company over the past two years to $13.8 billion and values the company at  $62.5 billion. Some of the new funding will likely help increase Uber’s presence in the Middle East; it will also support expansion in China and India.  TIME

Building a Better Leader

UBS offers employees two hours of personal time a week

It’s an attempt to improve bankers’ work-life balance, but co-workers must agree to pick up the slack while they’re out. Reuters

When you give employees more independence…

…it lets them think creatively about solutions to problems and then own the results. Fortune

Siemens looks to empower autonomous robots…

…to adapt to new tasks in order to solve problems. They will communicate with one another to break up the job.  Fast Company

Battle Lines

Sumner Redstone’s granddaughter sides with Viacom

Keryn Redstone says Sumner‘s daughter Shari has been manipulating the patriarch. Earlier this week, Viacom’s independent directors said they would fight any attempt to remove them from the board because they believe such a move would reflect Shari’s wishes, not Sumner’s. Keryn says she sides with them and Chairman Philippe Dauman. Reuters

Intel CEO: It’s time to buy 

CEO Brian Krzanich says his company is ready to shop for another acquisition but doesn’t have any targets in sight. He believes the semiconductor industry will continue consolidating, and Intel needs to boost growth as its PC chip business declines. Last year, it purchased Altera for $17 billion. Fortune

Lululemon founder attacks the management team

Chip Wilson, who stepped down from the company last year after a dispute with the board, said the management team lacks the vision that competitors have. He also said the company’s stock should be rising more like Nike’s and Under Armour’s. Wilson has called for directors to be elected annually rather than serving staggered terms. WSJ

Up or Out

Procter & Gamble CEO David Taylor has been given the additional title of chairman.  WSJ

Sony Pictures Television chairman Steve Mosko is stepping down.  Variety

Google has hired Box’s senior vice president of engineering, Sam Schillace, to work in its cloud computing and business technology division.  Fortune

Fortune Reads and Videos

EU: Go easy on Uber and Airbnb-like services

The European Commission said countries should  demand licensing of sharing economy companies only when “strictly necessary.” Fortune

Elon Musk says the Model 3’s final design…

…is due in about six weeks. Fortune

The movie filmed via Snapchat

A 68-minute horror movie called Sickhouse is available for $5.99 on Vimeo. The catch: it was shot and has already been shown via Snapchat. Fortune

Box CEO warns investors… 

…to expect more seasonal variance in its sales. That’s common for a business software company. Fortune

Happy Birthday

American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault turns 65 today.  Biography

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Produced by Ryan Derousseau
@ryanderous
powersheet@newsletters.fortune.com