Guiding Lights

I went to hear Eric Liu give a talk yesterday. He is a former speech writer for Bill Clinton, and now teaches in the Public Policy department at the University of Washington.
Yesterday, however, he was speaking on a completely different topic. Mentors.

Eric has written a book called Guiding Lights: The People Who Lead Us Toward Our Purpose in Life. He was an excellent speaker, and spoke about his interviews with great mentors around the country. He interviewed over 300 people over 2 years, and wrote about 15 of them in depth in his book. Part of what intrigued me was the topic, and even more so, that it seemed far from his original career path. He’s a local, and I promptly asked him out to dinner afterwards so I could hear some more of his story. I started reading his book yesterday, which is very well written.

Eric talked of a few things that stuck with me. He said that there were common elements in all of the great mentors he talked to, and that it was his belief that everyone is a teacher to some capacity, so understanding great mentors is central to becoming more effective in this role.

I like his story on failure, where he talked of a jazz master who encouraged his pupils to improvise off of their errors. I thought this was really interesting because this is a central principle to the Improv Comedy classes I’m taking. I find it so cool how I’m finding all these links in my interests.

I’m hoping to meet with Eric again, and talk to him about some of the ideas I’ve posted here. I think we have some common strains of thinking, in regard to why he wrote his book, and why I’m keeping this blog.


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