Studs Terkel — Curiosity Put To Good Use

November 1, 2008

Studs Terkel, the great American Oral Historian, died yesterday. I was introduced to his work in high school when we read his book, Working, as part of a class. It made a huge impression on me. It was the first time I actually spent any time thinking about how people might feel about their work and began to recognize that passion, pride, and creativity can occur in any job and in any field. The SF Chronicle obituary mentions that Studs wanted this as his epitaph: “Curiosity did not kill this cat.” If have often thought that curiosity is one of the signs of a great leader. Curiosity and listening. Studs did both. While not a politician, Studs dedicated his life to service. His service was in providing a window into the perceptions, the joy, and the pain of people all across America, breeding respect for diversity and offering an opportunity for empathy.

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