July 7, 2009

Brian Anderson: Live first, work second

A few weeks ago, Dr. Jim Hawkins led an end-of-the-year meeting with the entire administration and staff of Dalton Public Schools. I was honored to be able to say a few words about our community and the role education plays in our ability to compete as a desired place to live, work, and play. One outcome of this meeting was the challenge for members of the school system and other community leaders to take part in the reading, reviewing and discussion of two different books this summer.

The first book reading took place between June 15 and June 30. The book was “Live First, Work Second: Getting Inside the Head of the Next Generation” by Rebecca Ryan. Ms. Ryan is the founder of Next Generation Consulting ( She writes and consults from the same view of the world as Thomas Friedman, author of “The World is Flat,” and Richard Florida, author of “The Rise of the Creative Class.”

For my summer reading, especially on vacation, I like to read novels that are action-packed and typically of the military and espionage genre. I knew that reading a business self-help type book would be a challenge. To Dr. Hawkins credit, he chose the first book very wisely. It is only 117 pages long, and is filled with lots of exhibits and illustrations. Ms. Ryan is also a fantastic writer.

So you ask — so what? Why should anyone read this book much less a large group of professionals who affect the lives of many people on a daily basis. Why should business, government, education, and other community leaders try to understand the next generation?

As Ms. Ryan puts it, “we do it because we need the next generation to work in our companies, buy our products, participate in our government, live in our cities and patronize the causes we care about.”

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