Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow LinkedIn Influencer and author, Claire Diaz-Ortiz. @Claire, the 32-year old graduate of Stanford and Oxford (MBA), was one of the early employees of Twitter, responsible for innovation there, and is probably best known for personally getting the Pope to join Twitter. I was blown away by Claire's passion for all things: family, social media, philanthropy, writing, and learning.
But when I found out she had a 21 year old son at the ripe age of 32, I had to learn more. It turns out, of course, that he is a foster son, and their story is an amazing one. It's such a great story that Claire recently co-wrote a memoir with her 21 year old son Sammy.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with her again recently to discuss her new book: Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption.
Dave: This is a departure from your other books and Influencer posts. Tell us about Hope Runs and why you wrote it.
"You're right, this is a huge departure. Hope Runs is not a business book -- not by a long shot. Instead, it's a memoir of a strange journey I took to meet my foster son; it's also his story of his journey to meet me. It starts in 2006, at the end of a year-long trip around the world (mine). I went to Kenya to climb a mountain. When someone suggested I stay overnight at a nearby guest house before the climb, I agreed. The guesthouse was owned by an orphanage. I never climbed the mountain, and lived at that orphanage for a year. Eventually, I brought Sammy to the USA. The book is our story."
Dave: What was your biggest mistake from your experience and what did you learn from it?
"Learning to understand the depth of the challenges he faced growing up was a huge challenge. Sammy had an incredibly easy transition to the USA. That said, there are moments that stun me -- emphasizing to me the vastly different experience he had growing up, and how it informs his daily life today. One summer day, several years ago, Kenya was in the midst of a huge drought. After Sammy ate a huge chicken dinner one day out here in California, he told me he thought about posting it on Facebook. He didn't, though, because of his worries about making his friends back home feel badly. This tiny incident bowled me over."
Dave: How have the experiences of childbirth and adoption been similar? different?
"Very different -- yikes! Turns out that live-tweeting my own labor doesn't hold a candle to dealing with college applications for a 21 year-old!"
Dave: What is the biggest takeaway people will get from reading Hope Runs?
"Hopefully, the takeaway will be that hope exists everywhere, and that lives can change in an instant. Mine did, and anyone's can."
Dave: Thanks Claire! Hope does, in fact, run- everywhere we let it.
Now it's your turn. What surprises have your adventures brought you that you never would have expected? Has your life ever changed "in an instant"? How do you think about "hope"? Please let me know your thoughts in the Comments section below!