Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sometimes people amaze you in the best possible ways

The last couple of weeks have been busy and exciting and, as you might have noticed, my blog has paid the price. We were busy interviewing candidates for two open positions at the Children's Book Council. Two members of my spectacular staff have moved on to new, exciting opportunities. I do not use the word "spectacular" lightly. One of the things I am most proud of in my professional life is my track record for hiring the most amazing people. Many people in our industry recognize and appreciate the strength, energy and enthusiasm of my staff and I delight in that appreciation. Upon hearing the news of our impending changes, I've received several sympathy notes. The reality is that I appreciate the notes in that they are an implicit and often explicit recognition of the amazing people I have the honor of calling my team. Having said that, I like to hire people early in their careers and help them along the path they choose so I am far more accepting of and comfortable with these sorts of changes than you might expect. When people move on, it also gives me a chance to meet new individuals who might just have the potential to change the world and I welcome the chance to know them, work with them and play a role in their career development.

The interview process at my office was reassuring, uplifting, and inspiring. After each interview, my team gathered to share impressions. I am not lying when I say we were wowed by every candidate we met.  We are thrilled with the decisions we ultimately made but wish we could have opened up a few more positions. As an employer, I felt a little spoiled and overwhelmed by riches. The candidates we met were really that good. The candidates all happened to be young women and, as the mother of three even younger women, these meetings and these people excited me about the future prospects and perspectives of my own children and the impression I hope and expect each will make as they one day make their own way in the world. This may (okay, does) sound exceptionally corny (even cornier than the bit about my kids!) but as an American citizen and a citizen of the world, particularly  these days when the state of our country and the global economy are so depressed and depressing, I felt curiously optimistic about life and the future. The answers, of course, lie within people and when young people inspire confidence and idealism, it's productive to see the world through their eyes and consider the possibilities.

In honor of my corny, patriotic moment, my book selection for this post is We Are America, written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by his son, Christopher Myers. The father and son team provides a moving, poetic account of what it means, to them, to be American. "What is it to be an American? To live in a strange and beautiful land of complexity, with a tumultuous history of epic proportions, among the people who were here first, who came after, who will come tomorrow." I'm banking on the people who are growing up now and coming into their own tomorrow!

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