I discovered a new quality about myself this week. Something I always knew I possessed but never specifically defined or acknowledged: I absorb and catalogue life stories from everyone I meet. Interestingly, most of the time I’m not even consciously aware that I’m doing it, but catalogue I do. Right onto my brain’s hard drive for future use.

It’s possible I meet more people than the average person does because my day job is executive recruiting. Indeed, I meet dozens of people every month, nearly all virtually over the phone.

So, my aha moment came yesterday when I connected with a candidate I’ll call “Ravi,” who’d responded to an ad I posted on one of the job boards. Ravi was desperately seeking a new job, having been a victim of a layoff during the pandemic. Although I desperately wanted to help him, I didn’t have any current openings that would be a good fit for him. Yet, as I perused his resume while he recited his skills and background to me, I noticed his wealth of academic experience. I was duly impressed, especially with his international schooling. This caused my brain to automatically switch gears; I was off fantasizing about one of my greatest passions, travel.  

Odessa on My Mind

Not that I don’t have control over my own thoughts, but I felt compelled to ask Ravi about attaining his Master of Science degree in engineering in Odessa. Not the oil town of Odessa, Texas but the original Odessa in Ukraine. A jewel of a city on the Black Sea that I had the pleasure of visiting several years ago.

Ravi proudly told me he was offered a full scholarship to the Odessa State Maritime Academy back when Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union. The young engineer had been whisked away from a small town in Northern India, eager and ready to explore the world. The Soviets were likely hoping the young, talented engineer would decide to remain in the USSR and opt to work within that strategically situated body of water that borders six countries. Alas, he opted to accept another scholarship, this one at the University of Hawaii, where he went on to attain an MBA and ultimately, U.S. citizenship.

I can only imagine how exciting it was for him to study and explore that part of the world, not only gaining knowledge as an engineer but also fluently learning the Russian language and culture. He told me he traveled extensively throughout the USSR, even riding the Trans-Mongolian Train from Moscow to Beijing. My mind was in overdrive hearing this, craving to experience that adventure one day. When the pandemic is over, of course.

Ingenious Idea

My husband happened to overhear my side of the phone conversation with Ravi, commenting when I ended the call with, “You could write a book about recruiting stories. You have so many.” He’s right. My husband gave me an ingenious idea. Every candidate I speak with offers me personal stories about how they got to be where they are and got to be what they are. It really hit me hard: I have 20-plus years of stories catalogued on my brain’s hard drive. That should be a good start for another book.

All I have to do now is finish editing Plague, and I’ll be off to the races.