Just watched "Inside Job", the Academy Award winning documentary on the roots of the global financial collapse. Terrifying film, in part because there is very little sense of hope for a meaningful change that will keep us from repeating this economic insanity over and over. With both political parties in the pocket of a handful of corporate financial giants, university economics departments corrupted, and regulators doing anything but regulating, where do we turn for the kind of leadership we need to establish some kind of balance between the power of a tiny minority whose limitless greed keeps sinking the economy, and everyone else. Where will we find the vision and values we need to move forward? Certainly not from the Obama administration, which rewarded the same sleazy Wall Street players who got us into all this by re-appointing them into positions of power. The cast of characters leading Congress and seeking the Presidential nomination on the Republican side are even worse. So who?
Like most states, Washington State is in a financial crisis. The governor, a Democrat, is recommending severe cuts in all services, including prisons, education, and healthcare. This is on the heels of an earlier round of cuts that saw public education spending, including on higher education, slashed. It’s one thing to say we need to live within our means; it’s another to start talking about letting prisoners out early and making education unaffordable. Healthcare support is the biggest issue. Since the President and Congress dropped the ball on a true universal healthcare system, opting to expand the existing mess, we’re facing the prospect of ever more people without access to basic care. In Washington, a program that provided basic healthcare for those with no other access and limited financial means is set to be eliminated. Does anyone see a problem with all this? What do we value if not the education of our children, public safety, and our health?
Just heard Kevin Oakes speak about his new book, "The Executive Guide to Integrated Talent Management". Kevin is an amazing guy, a longtime leader in his field, and an excellent speaker. The good news from both his book and the presentation: there are a lot of executives out there who have made developing the abilities and careers of their employees a core value of their organizations. The bad news - they represent a small minority. Most employers, whether public or private sector, still see the people who build their organizations as a resource to be exploited at best, an expense and a source of friction and trouble at worst. In all cases they are probably right, but the reason, as Kevin and his collaborators point out in the book, has more to do with the organization itself than the people they are hiring. That one company can develop a culture that is dynamic, exciting, and supportive while another in the same industry is punitive, closed to new ideas and drives their best people away is both a source of hope and frustration. It's a leadership challenge that the best out there will continue to take up.
I had an opportunity to speak with a book group that read "Virtually Yours, Jonathan Newman". What a wonderful experience! The conversation was insightful and their enthusiasm for Jonathan's family and story was very gratifying. I also learned a lot from their questions and observations, all of which will inform the sequel, expected out in the spring of 2012.
This group had been meeting monthly for seventeen years. That means they've discussed over 200 books! What a gift it is for a writer to be able to discuss his or her work with a group of people who have shared that kind of literary experience.
Which leads me to a new addition on the robertrosell.com site. I'm adding a Book Group page. If you are part of a group that is reading VYJN, I'd be happy to meet with you. If you're in the Seattle area, I can join your conversation about the novel in person. If you're elsewhere, I can be a virtual participant by phone or other "communicator". I'll do as many of these as my schedule permits and look forward to exploring the world of Jonathan Newman with you.