Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sample Submission: Charles Bayless - Management Consultant

I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in October 1959. My father's career was in the international oil industry and so, after a couple of months, my mother and I returned to Venezuela where we were actually living at the time. With an older and younger sister, we lived all over the world while growing up: Venezuela, Houston, Libya, Nigeria, England (several times), and Sweden. My own career has been in management and systems consulting and included stints in Australia and again in the UK. I have three children.

Which books did you read as a child that you remember best and why?

For all that we moved a great deal and never had a large volume of household possessions, we did have a core collection of children's books that went everywhere with us. Among the earliest that I recall were Watty Piper's The Little Engine That Could, Judy Varga's The Dragon Who Liked to Spit Fire. Seuss' The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins was also a favorite. The anchor to our family collection of books was a multi-volume, Children's Encyclopedia which was divided into volumes of Folk and Fairy Tale, Tales from Distant Lands, Famous People, etc. Other picture book favorites flit at the edge of memory. Certainly there was a beautifully illustrated children's book of Bible stories at my grandparents which was happily reread over many summers. Also a realistically illustrated book of a chipmunk? squirrel? Something on that order. A realism which included, if memory serves, the rodent or one of its siblings being consumed by a hawk. Gripping! Finally, there was some much loved version of The Night Before Christmas.

As I grew older and could read to myself and pick my own books from the libraries of wherever we were living, I particularly recall reading and rereading Pippi Longstocking, Coral Island and Jules Vernes' Mysterious Island. Doyles' Sherlock Holmes was a hot streak of reading for a good long while as well. A handful of reference/science books also were solid standbys including the Time Life series and another book with a title along the lines of Can Elephants Swim? Bridging the gap between fiction and non-fiction, I can't overlook the Ripley's Believe It or Not! books.

Somewhere in here I also came across Walter Lord and his books, starting with his account of the the sinking of the Titanic, A Night to Remember.

As a young adult, in my mid teens, my father's favorite author was P.G. Wodehouse who in turn became a staple in my reading. I also read my way through all the works of the animal collector Gerald Durell. In these young teen years, I also read my way through any book on archaeology, or Egyptology in particular, on which I could lay my hands. Other favorites included Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki and true adventure books of that ilk.

Which books had the most influence on your thinking and character?

Honesty wrestles with embarassment. While every book influenced me in some way and sometimes I can even remember in which ways, there was one book in particular that lured me into considering just which limits I might wish to accept of myself. Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Not deep philosophy I know but it came across my horizon at just about the best age to make the most impact on me, perhaps thirteen or fourteen. I was fascinated by the implied idea of not accepting limits imposed by others.

Are there any books you have read to your own children that you would recommend?

Both I and the children have enjoyed most of the books by William Joyce such as Rolie Polie Olie, Bently & Egg, Santa Calls and The Leaf Men. Also books by the illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky such as Rumpelstilskin and Rapunzel. Others: When Jessie Came Across the Sea, and The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.

Are there books related to your profession or calling that you think children ought to consider reading?

Unfortunately I cannot call to mind any books that have a management consultant as the heroic protagonist. Kind of a gap in the market I would say. But in terms of the path not taken, for many years up to the time of college when the practicalities of supporting oneself intruded, I wished to be an Egyptologist. While I read everything I could find in the field with unbridled enthusiasm and probably as little discernment, three books stick in my mind: C.W. Ceram's Gods, Graves, and Scholars, Desrosches Noblecourt's beautifully illustrated Tutankhamun, and Heyerdahls Aku-Aku.

What books are you reading now?

Books that I am reading right now and enjoying? There is always a stack of 20-40 books beside my bed, all to be gotten to at some time. A couple of books by Bill Bryson, Thomas Sowell's Conquests and Cultures, David Landes' The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, Dan Gardner's Risk, and I am in the process of re-reading the mysteries of Raymond Chandler and several of Georges Simenon. At least those are the books on the top of the stack.

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