America Needs Talent: Attracting, Educating & Deploying the 21st-Century Workforce by Jamie Merisotis – a first look

Henry Luce (photo form 1948)
Henry Luce (photo from 1948)

All of us are called, each to his own measure of capacity, and each in the widest horizon of his vision, to create the first great American century.
Henry Luce, Life Magazine, February 17, 1941


America Needs TalentI’ve just read the first few pages of a really compelling book, America Needs Talent: Attracting, Educating & Deploying the 21st-Century Workforce by Jamie Merisotis (President and CEO of Lumina Foundation).   It’s a big picture look at talent. And though it is substantially about education, it is about much more than just education. And, from the book:

It’s not the systems that are important, not the processes in and of themselves. Education, and related strategies like immigration and urban policy, are all aimed at helping both individuals and society bend a person’s life trajectory toward something better. It’s about talent, and how that talent is ultimately attracted, nurtured, and marshaled.

The author writes that talent includes:

Knowledge – understanding in a particular subject matter…
Skills — like critical thinking and problem solving…
Abilities – like memory, creativity, reasoning…
Values – like recognition, achievement, authority…
Interests – like social or investigative…
Personality traits – like conscientiousness or extroversion, habitual patterns of behavior

And he ends the prologue to his book with these words:

What follows it the story of how crucially important it is that we find, grow, and deploy American talent today and how we should go about doing it.

Mr. Merisotis opens his full full chapter excerpting Henry Luce from 1941, (see the quote above), which introduced the United States to the phrase “great American century.”  And throughout this book, he provides a path for such a grand ambition to be continued.

This is a big picture, big ambition book. I’m looking forward to a careful reading.


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