on bringing literary thinking and heart to corporate leaders

Friday, May 13, 2016

Yesterday, on behalf of Leadership Philadelphia, I stood among 120 corporate and organizational leaders and talked about literature, language, and life. Our topic was home, but it might have been any number of things. Our process was embellished by words from James Agee, George Hodgman, Jacquelyn Woodson, and Katherine Boo, an excerpt from Love: A Philadelphia Affair, the thoughts of a West Philadelphia fifth grader, this Beltran recording on home (a composite reading from my Penn students and colleagues), readings about loss from This Is the Story of You and Flow, and conversations about gain.

We listened. We wrote. We shared. We talked to one another. We isolated telling details and pondered how the best of life can be transported into the best of work.

Having spent nearly three decades writing for corporate America, it was extraordinary to write, at last, with it. To reach toward the heart, and hearth, of lawyers, strategists, account managers, senior vice presidents, chief financial officers, portfolio managers, presidents, directors of communications, franchise managers, risk managers, school principals, art leaders, and civic leaders, to name just a few.

The lesson is this: literature—the act of naming the things we love and want, the act of putting want into words—is not an exclusive, excluding art. It is our art. Our shared humanity. Making as much difference in the workplace as it does on the family stoop.

I plan to bring these multi-media workshops to other organizational gatherings in the future, as part of the expanding realm of Juncture Workshops. Happy to talk, if the idea intrigues.


Tracey Yokas said...

Oh...this is so beautiful Beth. What an enlightening and inspiring day! Thanks for sharing.

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