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Don't Just Read... Dialogue

Conference_phoneIt's been another powerful weekend of teaching at Drake University.  One of my goals as an intructor and facilitator is to assign meaningful reading to my students.  (Textbook salespeople hate me.)  Besides, most of my students are busy professionals who don't have time to trudge through deep academic journal articles which takes three readings to absorb 10,000 words which could have been effectively communicated in 1,000.  They want real, honest, take-back-to-their-desk application.

For a class in executive leadership, we covered a lot of ground.  But the highlight of the weekend were two "virtual guest speakers" who conferenced into my class via telephone (not an easy task to address an audience blind).  But I have to say, Joshua Seldman and Kevin Eikenberry were both amazing!  They shared their knowledge and experience and beliefs from the heart, and each allowed my students to bombard him with really tough questions for 90 minutes solid.  It was an amazing dialogue.  I highly recommend their respective books, Remarkable Leadership and Executive Stamina.  My students described their books as relevant, life-changing, and impactful.  They had even kinder words for both Joshua and Kevin.  I feel very fortunate that this "whole blogging thing" has led to relationships that stretch me.

What about you?  When you read a book, do you just set it down when you're done?  Or do you ever try to reach out to the author?  It's one thing to process a page, but it's quite another to have a give-and-take conversation with the author, to ask, "What did you mean by what you wrote on page 47?"  I've been honored and humbled when my readers have reached out to me.  And I love the ability to reach out to the authors who have changed my life.  I'm even more rewarded by introducing these same authors to my students.  It can only get better.

Thanks, Kevin and Joshua!  You guys rock!!!


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Pete Jones

Tim - I am currently taking one of those classes at Drake that you described so eloquently. It is a truly unique situation you present to your classes, to be able to discuss the book with the author at the end is pretty cool and not something most of us get the opportunity to do. Keep up the good work!

Joyce B. Pingel

It was a pleasure to participate in your class this weekend and have the opportunity to challenge Joshua and Kevin on some of their theories and concepts. They did an amazing job of handling random questions from 30-40 people for more than an hour. The depth of their answers and their pragmatic approach to leadership were evident from the beginning. The only other book where I've personally followed up with an author is a book by Jan Austin called, "What No One Ever Tells You About...Leading for Results". Strong practical book with lessons about how to expand your leadership brand and bandwidth.

Linda Zdanwicz

Tim, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. When I became the practice manager in our office, I had nothing more than a high school diploma and my own wits to guide me. My boss handed me a copy of If Aristotle Ran General Motors by Tom Morris. To say I loved it doesn't do it. It changed who I am and formed my leadership mentality. I had our entire staff read it, and we discussed it in a series of staff meetings. Each team member took a turn leading the discussion. It changed our team and guided our actions from that time on. I emailed Tom and told him what his book was doing for us and he became my virtual mentor. I eventually wrote an article titled Aristotle, DDS for a respected dental publication, which was based on Tom's book, with his permission. He requested an autographed copy. This generous person has gotten me through some really hellish times at work and always responds with a kind guiding hand directing positive action.
Another very warm and generous author is James C. Hunter, author of The World's Most Important Leadership Principle, Becoming a Servant Leader. Although we didn't develop as strong a bond as with Tom, he also sent me a copy of another book he thought I'd like and wrote a warm inscription.
I love to read and outline the books I'm reading to use them with our staff. I consider myself a lifelong student at Linda U. What I lack in formal higher education I've made up for in self education and the valuable school of hard knocks. I wonder if I would have gotten this far along the path without the encouragement of Tom Morris. I would never hesitate to follow up with an author whose book I enjoy. I never hesitate to ask for opportunities. My co-workers are often amazed at the opportunities that come my way. I'm not, I asked for them. It's all about reaching out to an author or anyone who can help you get somewhere. People are usually generous with people who are working to improve themselves.

Timothy Johnson

Pete and Joyce - when I have students as awesome as you, it's only fitting to provide you with the best opportunities I can organize. I feel very fortunate to know people like Kevin and Joshua (as well as Bob Prosen and Steve Farber) to pull them into class discussions.

Timothy Johnson

Linda - that is so cool! I've been amazed by how generous other authors have been with their time and knowledge. It sounds like you hit a gold mine with your exchange. (And now I have another book to read.)

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