Thank You, Beverly Cleary

I owe my love of reading to three women- my mother, my grandmother and someone who I never had the pleasure of meeting, but whose work had a profound influence on me nonetheless- Beverly Cleary.

While I was admittedly a reluctant reader (at first) as soon as I picked up the habit, I never stopped. And it was Ms. Cleary’s characters- Henry Huggins, Beezus, Ramona and Ribsy who helped me learn to love books. The kids of Klickitat Street were just like me and their adventures started my lifelong love of reading- a skill that earned me the vaunted title of ‘Royal Reader’ back in elementary school and led me to Berkeley, which was also, coincidentally, Beverly Cleary’s alma mater.

Obviously, there were great teachers who also helped me along the way, but Ms. Cleary’s books were a huge influence on me, igniting my imagination and making me a dedicated, engaged reader. The language skills that I learned by reading Ms. Cleary’s books have stayed with me for a lifetime and I cherish the memories I have of reading them.

Since I had dedicated family members and teachers who made sure that I learned to love reading and knowledge, I still might have ended up becoming an avid reader who loves learning new things even if I had never heard of Beverly Cleary, but luckily I don’t have to find out what life might have been like without her books. Beverly Cleary touched the lives of millions of children around the world; children she never even knew. She definitely had a positive influence on my life. So, thank you, Ms. Cleary for sharing your talent with the world. You couldn’t find the book you wanted to read on the shelf so you wrote it- and we are all better off because of it.

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Happy 103rd Birthday to Beverly Cleary! Ms. Cleary’s books inspired me to become a lifelong reader and launched me on a path of learning that eventually led me to make my 2nd Goal in Life come true! (Which was to graduate from Berkeley, BTW.) Thank you for sharing your talents with the children of the world, Ms. Cleary!

A Suitcase & A Dream

In 1923, Walt Disney arrived in California with just $40. William Fox was a multi-millionaire with a chain of theaters and a growing movie studio. At the time, nobody at William Fox’s studio would meet with Walt Disney to just look at his portfolio. If someone had said back then that the company Walt Disney would setup would eventually buy William Fox’s Company, they would have put them in the crazy house. Yet tonight at 9PM PDT Disney will officially own 20th Century Fox.

Staff in a Box

Many organizations see their employees as merely cogs in a giant machine. Cogs typically fit in just one place, have one use and can be easily replaced if they get worn out. While this might seem reasonable- after all, everyone was hired to do a specific job, it isn’t a very good way to manage your staff.

Putting staff into pre-determined boxes and not allowing them to stray far from their job descriptions absolutely kills creativity and morale. It also signals to others within the organization that certain people are not worth listening to. Staff members who try to take on new duties or share ideas that aren’t necessarily in their normal job realm are admonished to ‘stay in their lane’ and just do the job they’re being paid to do.

Good managers encourage their staff to grow and learn additional skills. They also listen to new ideas and are receptive to them. After all, a good idea is a good idea regardless of where it comes from- even when it comes from the janitor, as Frito Lay found out to its delight.

Richard Montanez is an immigrant who spoke and read little English. When he applied for a job at Frito Lay, his wife had to fill out his application. He was hired in as a janitor, but he had bigger aspirations. After a mishap resulted in some irregular Cheetos that had no cheese mix on them, he seized the opportunity to do some experimenting and came up with a recipe for spicier Cheetos. Since Frito Lay’s CEO had encouraged all staff members with new ideas to come forward, Richard called up the CEO and explained his idea. After recovering from the shock that a janitor had actually called him up with an idea, he invited Richard to present the idea to the board of directors. Richard put a ton of effort into mocking up a prototype bag and planning his presentation. The board was amazed and impressed. Ignoring the fact that he was “just a janitor”, they greenlit his idea and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were Born. They were a sensation, quickly becoming one of Frito Lay’s biggest sellers. Richard’s career skyrocketed and he was promoted into management. Imagine if Frito Lay had ignored Richard’s idea because he was “just a janitor”? They would have lost out on a multi-million dollar idea.