This is the first of three parts. Here is part two.
I’ve had an amazing career. (And it ain’t over yet!) But I didn’t do it alone. Here are thirty people who, whether years ago or months ago, have provided a deep and lasting impact on who I am and what I do. And how I conduct myself in business and in the world at large. If you have an opportunity to meet or work with these people, then you are lucky indeed. Here they are in no specific order. (Linked to in the headings when a public link is available.)
Val has guided me through the politics and practical considerations of product management and marketing and sales. But more than that, Val has been generous of time and spirit. It’s been longer since I have not worked with her than the number of years I worked with her, yet she is always available to bounce ideas off of. Val has grown through a variety of sales and technical roles, all the way to her first CEO role at Verisite. And she has done all of this through personal and professional challenges that would make lesser people shrivel into dust. As a person of faith, she has always shown the proper level of “church versus state” necessary to be inclusive, but has never wavered from how her faith impacts how she runs business. Val, thanks!
Zarat has only been a friend virtually on Facebook, and then only through her husband who was an essayist for my book. Whether she knows it or not, her example of caring for her husband, taking on educational (hello, doctorate!) and community endeavors, and watching her positive spirit in the face of challenges has inspired and motivated me to work harder for my son and my community. Zarat, thanks!
Marly was a professor and an advisor of mine at SUNY Potsdam a few (ahem…) years ago. Here is a person who gave up a tenured position and writes (and wrote, at night, whilst her three young children slept) award winning poetry and fiction. She is a writer who, how shall we say, is underrated by the buying public. Her 16+ books should have made her a millionaire and brought her fame. Who else could (or would!) write a post-apocalyptic prose-poem about a group of young adults surviving and rebuilding a society after an unnamed earth-changing event? And make it readable and interesting? Did I say it was a book length prose poem ? (It is called Thaliad and you should buy it. Go ahead, right now! I’ll wait here.)
On top of that, Marly has made time on the phone, in email, and on Facebook to continue to guide this lesser writer on his way. And she acted as the poetry editor to my book. And I never even saw her face-to-face for [ahem…] years until a few months ago when she was doing research in Worcester, MA for her new book. Marly, thanks!
Kristina was my intern for only a few months, and then a coworker for almost another year. Whether she knows it or not, she was the first person I interviewed and I had to have a minor fight to hire her. Allegedly one is not supposed to hire the first person one interviews. She was the first one I interviewed. She was a good hire and is incredibly talented with an amazingly dry sense of humor. Kristina reinforced in me that I was indeed a person who could “manage lightly” yet “demand excellence.” She is also brave, having quit a decent paycheck to go to New York, be broke, and chase her dreams. She is going places! Kristina, thanks!
Beth is the self-anointed goddess of communication and an alpha dog. She was by my side as both a peer and editor and marketing guru at a company, and she later became the editor of my book. She has always kept my writing in line. And yet, even through the declining health of her beloved, she was always there with a positive word and a great idea. Beth inspires me to fight the work and healthcare-caregiver fights I must endure to stay sane and pay the mortgage. Beth, thanks!
Sandy is the executive director of a large, non-profit social agency in New Hamsphire. Over 18 years of my son’s life (so far), she has been there to guide, connect, and be leaned upon. Not just for personal needs in the special needs community, but with essential advice on advocacy and communication that has been useful for more than just politics.
And she has given me connections to some public speaking and advocacy activities that have helped me grow immensely. Sandy, thanks!
Melanie has been involved in local and New Hampshire state politics for as long as I have known her. I can only imagine how hard it has been for her as a person of color in New Hampshire. Melanie knows that I have always supported her, but I certainly have not always agreed with her. Though I often do. Despite how I am sometimes a pain to her in her roles as state representative and local offices and activities, she always remembers my name and my son’s name. And quickly too! And she remembers details about our lives and always asks about us. She is a class act that could teach some national politicians a better way to truly listen and discuss things with people you don’t agree with all the time. Melanie, thanks!
Liz was the director of HR at a firm I worked for at the turn of the century. She blossomed in a big way in the human resources arena. I actually knew her when she was “small enough” to provide individual job and career coaching and she did so for me. She is now a human resources writer of national renown, with a regular series that appears in Fortune magazine and elsewhere. She generates tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of views on LinkedIn. Liz taught me a lot about me “mojo” (her word) and how to stand up for oneself in the face of an uncertain career market. Plus, she sings. Liz, thanks!
Yes, that Dr. Jane Goodall. I met Dr. Goodall with my son a few years ago when we stayed at a hotel for a wedding. My son walked up and talked to a woman, who was actually the executive director of the Jane Goodall Foundation. She then asked Alexander, do you want to meet Jane? And he (and I) did!
Jane gave us her private email address and has written back and forth with us at least a dozen times and even personally donated some materials as rewards for the Indiegogo for my book. Plus, her words of encouragement in some of her emails fundamentally changed the way I have approached how I emotionally and practically deal with the challenges my son’s disability presents. Dr. Goodall, thanks! (You let me address you as Jane but I want to be formal here.)
I only had the pleasure of meeting and working with Katya for about two years. And what a powerhouse PR person and worker. Here is a person who has lived in a number of countries that most American’s would deem “exotic.” Yet she has been able to thrive through international flights, 24 hour schedules, the inherent deeply-rooted sexism of a few of the cultures she deals with daily. (At least I call it sexism. Pretty sure it is.) And yet she has maintained her work team and her very private, at least to me, family life including a child born with some medical challenges. She has taught me more than I think she knows she may have. Katya, thanks!
Next up — Numbers 11 through 20!
Have a wonderful and safe New Years 2018 holiday! Stay warm!