Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Annual Battery Pack Rejuvenation

For the past four years, the folks at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina have been kind enough to invite me to speak at their Sophomore Experience event (  Scott Cochran, the Dean of Wofford’s Center for Professional Excellence, is a dear friend of mine and someone I will write about in more detail in a future blog.

The important thing today is the sense of rejuvenation I am feeling after my visit to Wofford.  NEVER let someone use broad generalizations to tear down today’s youth.  The liberal arts students I meet every year at Wofford inspire me to no end and this year’s crop was particularly intriguing.  They included future businesspeople, doctors, entrepreneurs, attorneys, poets, activists, psychologists, accountants, musicians, car traders…the list is as varied as you might expect.

The engagement, passion and enthusiasm these students shared with me, however, was somewhat unexpected.  These young people are cautiously idealistic:  They want to change the world for the better but they know it will take smarts, hard work and commitment, all of which they have in abundance.

When I returned to work after my visit, I was already pretty pumped up.  Then a box containing the Steve Jobs biography arrived.  Even better, the students had taken the time to write personalized notes thanking me for MY inspiring them.  They had it backwards:  As gratifying as it was to be appreciated for my time, THEY are the ones who inspired me and gave my batteries an annual mid-winter re-charge.  Thanks Wofford.  Keep emailing me updates as you chase down those dreams.
HEY are the ones who inspired me and have given my internal batteries their annual mid-winter charge.  Thanks, Woff
HEY are the ones who inspired me and have given my internal batteries their annual mid-winter charge.  Thanks, Wofford!

What Am I Reading?
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill came out in 2008 and somehow completely escaped my attention (despite apparently being widely publicized as the first novel that Barack Obama read on his summer vacation in 2009!) 

Netherland is told by Hans, a banker transplanted from the Netherlands, who is struggling to find his way in New York after his wife and son head to the U.K. in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.  Hans stumbles upon a varied cast of immigrants who bond over cricket matches played in the shadows of New York overpasses and other odd places they’ve conquested to play the world’s most popular stick-and-ball game.

This story about strangers in the margins who struggle to make it in a city where they are often anonymous is both intimate and wide scale.