Community activist and MacArthur fellow Strickland explains the jazz expression tell your story as playing that doesn't just display your virtuosity, but also gives the audience a glimpse of your soul. He succeeds in doing just that. We get the virtuosity: he was an African-American kid from Pittsburgh's inner city who at 19 established what became Manchester-Bidwell, the now famous arts and job-training center for disadvantaged kids and adults. And we get the soul: he was spurred on by a mother who taught him to polish a wood floor until it gleamed no matter what was going on in the streets outside; an art teacher who believed in the aimless boy; a classroom where coffee brewed, jazz played softly, and he had the transformative experience of throwing his first clay pot. It's the American dream with a twist: for Strickland, it was never about shedding his past and getting ahead but about following his bliss and making a difference. Which is not to say the skilled fund-raiser isn't savvy. He touts the value of a Brooks Brothers suit and knowing the right people. Unfortunately, we don't learn how Strickland's philosophy of making the impossible possible applies to his—or our—personal lives. (Dec. 31)
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Acclaim for Make the Impossible Possible
“Passionate. Inspirational. Hopeful. Optimistic. Powerful. Compelling. And most important— it works . . . Here is the cure to what ails this country. Take it home. Read it. Then live it.” —Alan M. Webber, founding editor, Fast Company
“Bill Strickland is a genius, because he sees the inherent genius in everyone. Bill’s ability to inspire hope is powerful, universal, and world changing. Make the Impossible Possible
will show you how you can achieve even your wildest dreams. Bravo!”
—Jeff Skoll, first president of eBay, founder and chairman, Skoll Foundation
“I have lived a jazz life for the better part of my 95 years, but it was not until I read Bill’s book that I truly understood the influence that jazz has had on my success.…Kudos to Bill who has not only put into words what I have always felt in my heart, but who has also laid out a path that others can follow.”
— John Levy, NEA Jazz Master, manager of Cannonball Adderley, Wes Montgomery, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, and many others.
"We often hear the word inspire, likely allowing it to pass and not sink in our psyche.
However we often will never forget things that inspire us. A visit to see Bill Strickland's concept in Pittsburgh was one of those events for me. Now you can read about how he was driven to build it.” —Jim Hackett, President and CEO, Steelcase, Inc.
“Are you yearning to pursue what others say is an unrealistic or impractical dream? This is the book for you. By telling his remarkable story, Bill Strickland shows us that an impossible notion is just an idea nobody had the guts to try. With great flair and amazing range—you'll read about jazz, pottery, airplanes, even orchids!—he reveals how each of us can change our part of the world. Like the man who wrote it, this book is inspired and inspiring.” —Daniel H. Pink, New York Times
bestselling author of A Whole New Mind
“Bill Strickland could sell anything . . . Read this book and you'll understand why he is such an inspiration to practicing and aspiring entrepreneurs.” —James Heskett, Harvard Business School
"This is a provocative tale of meaning and substance about Bill Strickland's life and endeavors. At its heart, it's a story about greatness -- and the relentless pursuit of making the world a better place. One person. One town. One moment at a time. As we read it, it's humbling -- could we ever dare attempt something as profound as Bill has? His message on this point is quite clear: Within each of us is this greatness to be unleashed."
- Keith Yamashita, Chairman, Stone Yamashita Partners
PRAISE FOR BILL STRICKLAND AND MANCHESTER BIDWELL
“One of the most innovative social enterprise thinkers I have ever met. The ‘Strickland’ thought process is that of a highly trained jazz musician, coupled with a keen business sense . . . He is definitely one of my major heroes.”
“The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild is a testament to the power of the arts to transform children’s lives. Its students learn much more than how to shape clay, take pictures, and appreciate jazz. They leave the Guild knowing that they have the potential and tools to become successful and productive citizens.”
—Hillary Rodham Clinton