Linda Zecher is the president, CEO, and director at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She reflects on her long and winding career path. In so doing, I found one of the earliest points on her timeline (late 1960s to early 1970s) humorous yet very real life. Here is how she describes it (“How Did I Get Here?” Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/17/14–11/23/14, p. 88):
“I worked at the county jail in high school and college. I was in charge of the commissary. It was a lot of exposure to people I probably shouldn’t have had exposure to.”
I believe Zecher. And I also believe we can all remember places in our careers in which we probably had exposure to a whole lot of stuff that was not all that helpful or wholesome.
The upshot of her story of course is that she didn’t stay there. She progressed. She moved forward. All of us have the capacity to recognize when we might be in a less-than-ideal place. It is in those moments that we have the freedom to decide to choose something better.
I laugh every time I read Zecher’s assessment of her jail time. But more importantly, I revel in the privilege and freedom we all retain to choose something better. I trust that you, as am I, are making those choices every day.