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Brad Meltzer: I Am Brad Meltzer

December 10, 2019

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Brad Meltzer: I Am Brad Meltzer

December 10, 2019

Carly welcomes Brad Meltzer to the studio. Brad is a New York Times bestselling author.  Among his bestsellers are: The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, The 10th Justice, and The President's Shadow. Brad believes that ordinary people change the world and has written children’s books and become a producer for Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum on PBS. Brad shares the story of how his children’s books series came to be and about his interaction with the late George H.W. Bush at the end of his life. He and Carly also discuss the power of humility and how true leadership is about taking care of those we are leading.




 
 

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Carly Fiorina:
I'm Carly Fiorina, and this is By Example. If you're a consumer of great fiction, especially political thrillers, then you know my next guest, New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer. Among his bestsellers, The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, The 10th Justice, and The President's Shadow, his latest thriller, The Escape Artist debuted at number one on the bestseller list. But Brad is much more than a famous writer of fiction, although that would be quite enough. He is also focused on building leaders. Because like me, he believes ordinary people change the world. And while our culture lifts up the loudest and the most controversial among us, Brad believes we need to remind ourselves of what true leadership looks like and who true leaders are. That has led him into becoming a writer of children's books and the producer of a new children's show on PBS. Brad and I agree, to change the world to solve problems we need more leaders, and anyone can lead if they choose. I hope you enjoy this episode of By Example and my conversation with bestselling author Brad Meltzer. So Brad, I am really delighted to welcome you to By Example, where we lift up people who are doing extraordinary things to change the world for the better. And I know that you believe that it is in fact ordinary people who change the world through sometimes extraordinary acts of leadership. So welcome, and thank you so much for taking the time.

Kết quả xổ số HaojiangBrad Meltzer: Thanks for having me.

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangI want to begin with a question you've probably been asked many times, but I'm just fascinated. I first came to know your name honestly not associated with leadership, but associated with political thrillers and bestsellers, which obviously is a great profession and you have been extremely successful about it. How did you go from that to deciding to write children's books about leadership? Tell me about that journey.

Brad Meltzer:
And that journey for me, listen, I spent the better part of my life writing thrillers, meaning that I murder and kill people for a living. And I think there's probably no better segue then to talk about children's books , then murdering and killing people.

Carly Fiorina: Well, it's not an intuitively obvious segue, so maybe you could unpack it a little bit.

Brad Meltzer:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangFair enough. Fair enough. So yeah, I love writing my thrillers. And what I realized I was doing is I was telling a similar story in all the books. So, I started writing thrillers about Supreme Court clerks, not the Supreme Court Justices, but the Supreme Court clerks. Not writing about the President of the United States, but about the person who hands him the pen when he signs it and where that pen comes from and where he goes. And how does he go anywhere without the help of a thousand different people doing things? I always realized I was fascinated by the regular people who were behind things you never saw. All my thrillers were about those ordinary people who changed the world, because that's my core belief. My core belief is that ordinary people change the world. I don't care where you went to school. I don't care how much money you make. That's nonsense to me. I believe in regular people and their ability to affect change on this planet. And I thought to myself, "You know what, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to write these books and write these thrillers, The Escape Artist and other ones". And it's a good life. You can't ask for more than that. I got invited by President Bush and President Clinton, I've gone to the white house. They both have written me letters saying they like my thrillers. I go to the president's private dining room in the White House, not where everyone else goes but upstairs in the place where the Secret Service can't even go, into the private residence, where we sit 12 people around a small dinner table and have a meal. And that's a good life, right? That relaxing.

Carly Fiorina:
Yeah, you've arrived. You've arrived.

Brad Meltzer:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangAnd I remember going there and I remember sitting next to Mrs. Bush, because they tell you exactly where you sit, and there's a card that's... it says Mr. Meltzer, it has an engraving of the White House on it, it's super fancy. And my first thought is, "I'm totally stealing my place card". And Mrs. Bush leans over to me, she's, "You know, Brad, all the novices, they all want to steal their place cards". And I'm, "Yeah". I'm, "I know all those novices", and I'm, "Look, Ruth Bader Ginsburg", and I totally swipe my card away. But she caught me stealing it too. But again, that's what I thought my life was. And then something, I think the word miraculous is the right word is happened, which is I had kids. And when I had kids I real... I think all in the world, all great ideas come from great needs. And I was tired of my own kids looking around at reality T.V. show stars and people who are famous for being famous and thinking that, that's a hero. I wanted to give my kids heroes of kindness and who taught character. Characters, people who taught you about how to be a good person, not as you said in the beginning, how much money you make. And to me I thought, "Oh, this is what I'm going to do". And I started writing, I told my daughter, "I'm going to teach you about Amelia Earhart". And I told my daughter, "Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic ocean", and my daughter said to me, "Big deal, dad, everyone flies across the Atlantic ocean". she wasn't impressed at all. But then I told her this true story that when Amelia Earhart was seven years old, she built a homemade roller coaster in her backyard that she took a wooden crate, she put roller skating wheels on the bottom of it. She shoved it to the roof of a tool shed. She gets onto the crate, on these wheels, comes down these two giant pieces of wood from the roof of the tool shed, goes flying through the air, crashes, gets up, it, "That's amazing", or whatever, she yells at the time. And she later says that feeling when she flew down, when her stomach bottomed out from under her, she wanted that feeling back again. And that's the first moment that Amelia Earhart ever flew. She was seven years old. And when I told my daughter that story, my daughter said, "Dad, she's just like me". And I realized that's the story I wanted to tell. I wanted to tell the stories of all these amazing people. We started with, I'm Amelia Earhart. We did, I'm Abraham Lincoln. I did, I am Rosa parks and I am Albert Einstein. My son who loves sports, I said, "You know what? Stop looking at athletes who are paid millions of dollars and who just do nothing more than score lots of points. Let me show you a good, a hero athlete. Meet this guy Jackie Robinson". And we did, I am Jackie Robinson. We did I am Lucille Ball because I wanted my daughter to have a female entertainment hero, who wasn't just famous for being thin and pretty. That Lucy stood for the idea, it's not just okay to be different, it's spectacular to be different. And we don't celebrate that today in the world, right? We don't. We tend to look down on differences, sadly, but it's the best thing about all of us is that we're all profoundly different. And I wanted my daughter to learn that too. And we did everything from Helen Keller where we put real braille into the book and we made the pages of the book go black when she goes blind and it says, "Feel these dots. This is my name, my name's Helen. What's your name"? And I watch my... and these are obviously illustrated kids books done with an artist named Chris Eliopoulos that are real life biographies, but in kind of cartoon kids book form. But I watch my 18-year-old son put his fingers on that braille and he turned to me, he says, "Dad, this one's actually good". And I'm, "Actually? What's wrong with the others"? But something amazing happened when the election in 2016 hit us. And just as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were screaming at each other every day on television, something really fascinating started happening with our books. And two of our books started out selling more than any others. And they were, I am Martin Luther King Jr and, I am George Washington. And it wasn't a democrat or republican thing, it was a parents and grandparents were tired of turning on the T.V. and seeing politicians when what they wanted to show their kids were leaders, and we all know there's a huge difference between a politician and a leader. And I love the fact that since that time, that people use our books to fight back against the cynicism they see in America. And I take these books from my friends at Fox News to my friends on CNN. I take them from my friends on NPR, to my friend Glenn Beck. You name it, I go there. And despite what the culture shows us today, there are things we all agree upon. We all do agree that the way we talk to each other, that lack of civility is awful. We agree that, that's a lack of leadership. We agree that we need to do better today. And we've done books on Gandhi and Jane Goodall. We've done Billie Jean King and we just did Walt Disney and Marie Curie, and that transfer, probably a long answer for you, but came solely because of that need I had to give my kids real leadership.

Carly Fiorina:
You've said so much in that Brad, and I really appreciate you going into that level of detail. And let me just punctuate a couple things you said that I think are so important for our listeners. The first, is that when you mention all of these names, Amelia Earhart, Rosa parks, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, we tend to think, "Oh, well, yeah. Well they're famous". And somehow in retrospect, fame seems so preordained and we don't think of these people as people just like us who ended up becoming leaders who changed the world. And yet, what you show in your books is, no, no, no, they started out just like us. And Abraham Lincoln is such an interesting example as well to me because wow, he was not preordained for success. He suffered from depression. He was extremely homely, at least that how he was described at the time, he lost many of the political contests. And yet when the time required him, he had the character and the courage to lead. And I think one of the things that I try and do through my work is to say to each and every one of us, "Each of us are capable of changing the world. Each of us are capable of kindness and courage and character". All of us have those human qualities. The question is, do we nurture them? Do we leverage them? Do we use them when the moment requires? And I totally agree with you as well, in our cynical political times, when you get outside of the din of politics and the cynicism of the political process, there are so many fundamentals that people agree on and one of them is we need more leaders, more people who change the world for the better, not fewer.

Brad Meltzer:
Just to go to Abraham Lincoln as a perfect example. My kids, when they were little, they could never really have the context for freeing the slaves or being the 16th president or all the kind of cliches we always pronounce about Abraham Lincoln. But I found this story about him from a professor at the Lincoln Institute at Knox College, who said to me that when Abraham Lincoln was 10 years old, and this is true, he used to love animals, grew up loving animals. And he came upon a group of boys who were playing with turtles. He's, "I love turtles", races over to see the turtles, and what these group of boys are doing is they're not playing with the turtles, they're actually putting hot coals on the backs of the turtles. They're torturing the turtles to make them run faster. And Abraham Lincoln in that moment has to figure out... he's horrified. And I don't care if you're 10 years old or you're 60 years old, sometimes it's hard to do the right thing, but someone has to, right?

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangThat's right, it's scary.

Brad Meltzer:
Someone has to though has to do it.

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangIt's scary.

Brad Meltzer:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangSomeone has to do it. And it is terrifying. And in that moment he says, "Take the coal off the turtles", whatever the right words he used, obviously those are lost to history, but he basically makes them take it off and writes his first essay soon after about the beauty of being kind to animals. And my son to this day sleeps with a little Abraham Lincoln doll that one of our readers made for us. Because he can't understand the slavery party, can understand the presidency, but man, to be kind to someone, to lead by example, is the answer. And I think you hit that. Exactly where we are is, and we know that. We know that kindness is so vital when we're there. It's amazing what we kind of put up with to get there.

Carly Fiorina:
Yes. Well you mentioned that one of the more recent books in this genre you've written is about George Washington. Tell us a little bit about that book and what it means to you, and tell us also about the opportunity that you had to share that book with a former president.

Brad Meltzer:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangOne of the things I found years ago, I don't just... I=instead of just writing children's books, I love jumping genres as you can tell. So I went to thrillers, then I went to kids books, and then last year, this past year, we came out... I found this story, I found it about a decade ago in the footnotes, about a secret plot to kill George Washington. And I was, "Is this real"? And it was real. It was true. In 1776 there was a secret plot to kill George Washington, when George Washington found out about it, he gathered up those responsible, he built a gallows and he took one of the main co-conspirators and he hanged him in front of 20,000 people. The largest public execution at that point in North American history. George Washington brought the hammer down, was, "Do not mess with me. I'm George Washington. I'm going to be on the money one day". And I love the story and it's obviously very titillating. We did an adult, a nonfiction book. It's called, The First Conspiracy of the Secret Plot to Kill George Washington, and that's what the first conspiracy is about. But what I love is not just the plot to kill him, which of course is the best part of the book, but to me probably the most important part of the book is what you find out about George Washington. Because Carly, what we are, as you know, is we're a country that's founded on legends and myths. And the legends and myths we love most are our own. So we love to tell the story of George Washington, spectacular leader, the great genius general, and we dreamed of democracy with him and we held hands together and we took down the British, the greatest fighting force of all time, and called it a day. And that's a great story. Fascinating story. But it's not the true story at all. When the first battles happened in the revolution in 1776 and the British invaded in the Battle of Brooklyn, we didn't win, we got our butts kicked. George Washington-

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangThat's right.

Brad Meltzer:
Kết quả xổ số Haojiang... George Washington-

Carly Fiorina:
Success was not preordained.

Brad Meltzer:
Not preordained, like you said, right? You fight for it and George was out generaled. The British generals had far more experience than he did. And there's a moment in the book where George Washington gets pinned down, where he's got the East River behind him and he's got, in front of him, the British military. And this is it, he's pinned down, there's no where to run. He's got the water behind them, the military in front of them, the enemy in front of them. And it, is the moment George Washington should be dead. And instead what he does, is he does the best thing he always does, which is he improvises. And he plans a daring escape in the middle of the night. So while everyone's asleep, we commandeer every boat along the East River and he slowly, one by one, starts putting his men on these boats. But the key moment is this, is he won't get on any of the boats until his men are away and safely free first. And not just his top military, the top military colonels and generals, but the lower level men too. And they see this, they see him risking his life for theirs, and not that, that's the magic moment that makes America, there's plenty before and plenty after, but it is very clear in that moment that leadership is not about being in charge, it's about taking care of those in your charge. And one of the things that I was thrilled to do with this book, is we had two blurbs on the book, among many historians, but we had a blurb from President Clinton and we got a blurb from President George H. W. Bush, who of course recently passed away. And what no one knew at the time, right before he died, is President Bush... they were asking his favorite authors to come read to him and I got the call. And so, I was in Kennebunkport, Maine with my wife and we're there and they bring us in and the Secret Service leave and they tell us, "Listen, he's only going to be awake for about 5, 10 minutes he's going to fall asleep. He's just sleeping a lot these days". I said, "That's okay, I'm just honored to be here". And we walk in, and this is the end, it's President Bush, myself, my wife, and his service dog, Sully. We know what's coming. And there's a stack of books on his desk. One of them is a copy of The First Conspiracy about the plot to kill George Washington. And I can see it's dog-eared, like it's been read so many times because I had sent them the copy a year ago, and I said to him, "Sir, I brought my own copy. You want to read from this"? And he says, "Mm-hmm (affirmative)", because he can't speak at this point. He's just mm-hmm (affirmative), or uh-uh (negative). And the scene that I brought to him was the scene where George Washington, for the very first time, has the Declaration of Independence read to his troops for the first time ever. And sure enough, 5, 10 minutes into the chapter, he falls asleep, but I got to finish the chapter. And as I'm reading I get to those words, Carly, those words, we all know, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal". And in that moment, George Bush's eyes pop open. He's wide awake. And he's locked on me as if the words of the Declaration are his very lifeblood. And I get to the end of that chapter and I said, "Sir, you want to read another chapter"? "Mm-hmm (affirmative)", and I get to the end of that chapter, "You want to read another sir"? "Mm-hmm (affirmative)", and instead of being there for 5 or 10 minutes, we're there for an hour. And at the end of the hour, I say my goodbye to him. I know I'm never going to see him again. I thank him for his friendship and everything he's done for me over the years. And we leave there and I went to his funeral, and we got invited to the funeral. My wife and I went. And I think you remember, if you look at all the tributes that were said about him, it was, the one word I saw used over and over to describe this leader of ours, and it was this word, decency. Decency. And yes, yes, yes, because he was a decent man of course, but I think it's because as a culture we are starving for decency, starving for us. So I'm... I know today in the culture we pay attention to those, who on social media, because that's what social media is. We pay attention to those who are good at calling attention to themselves, who write with multiple... all caps and multiple exclamation points. But I'm tired of that kind of leadership. I would much rather have the leadership of a George Washington or George Bush or the humble men and women out there who don't just say, "Me, me, me", all day. But actually remember again, leadership is not about being in charge. It's about taking care of those in your charge.

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangWhat a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it. And the other thing that that story reminds me of, and I think in this George H. W. Bush and George Washington and all leaders have this in common, leadership is also about something larger than ourselves. And so George Washington, when he would not get on the boat until his men were safe, was not only taking care of those in his charge, he was also saying there is something bigger and more important than me. George H. W. Bush was a president, whatever your politics, who was always conveying, "It's not about me, it's about something bigger than me. It's about someone else besides me". And I think that level of selflessness, humility, empathy, in addition to decency, is critical to real leadership and missing in so many people that we lift up and call leaders.

Brad Meltzer:
Oh, 100%.

Carly Fiorina:
You mentioned social media, and I want to segue if I can into a kind of a conversation about culture. I talk about social media a lot. I do think that the word leader and leadership is so loaded right now because we think it means someone famous, someone powerful, someone rich. Which in this day and age, tends to someone controversial, someone outrageous. We lift up on social media people who yes, call attention to themselves. My famous example of this is we now have people who are called muckraking leaders. I don't know if you even know what muckraking is. I didn't, but it is the process of eating tons of food while videoing yourself and putting it up on YouTube. And it's a whole thing now called muckraking, the leader of muckraking. It's crazy. So we lift up position, title, money, fame, controversy, outrage. We're not lifting up real leadership, or character, or decency, or honesty, or courage, or selflessness, or saying, "You know what? It's actually not about me. It's about someone and something else". Why do you think that is?

Brad Meltzer:
I think we've confused the word fame and the word leader in the culture these days. And I tell my kids all the time, being famous is not being a leader. That's just fame. That's all it is. And I think the reason we do it... I feel like one... And we did it even before recent time, what we've done with our leaders, and you said a little bit about this before, is we take even the good leaders and we build statues of them, and we make monuments to them, and we worship at their feet as if they're perfect in every way. And we do them, when we do that, a huge disservice because then they're not like us anymore.

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangYou are so right.

Brad Meltzer:
Right? They become-

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangThey're not like us anymore. They're superhuman.

Brad Meltzer:
That's right. It becomes superhuman. They're flawed. And one thing we do in the, I am kids book series, or even in the First Conspiracy or even in the thrillers, is to try and remember that anyone you look up to, whether it's Rosa Parks or Dr. King, or whether it's George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, pick whoever it is, had moments where they were scared and they were terrified and they didn't know they could go on, and they kept doing it. And the more we can remind ourselves that they're just like us, the more we empower people. But I do think, again, to use another example, we did a book, one of the other kids' books we did in the I am series, we did I am Neil Armstrong. And we always do these books with... I always look at what's that moral value? The books are never about history. There were... on the back of I'm Amelia Earhart, it says, "I know no bounds". On the back of I am Abraham Lincoln, the kid's book says, "I will speak my mind and speak for others". And when we did, I am Neil Armstrong, it was so fascinating to me because one of the things that Neil Armstrong never used the word I. He used the word we, "We did this. We accomplished". And he wasn't just talking about his fellow astronauts, he was talking about the mathematicians and the scientists, and even the people who sewed his space suit together. We did this, remember when humility was a great American value. We've lost that and we need to bring it back again.

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangAnd humility is... and it's so critical to leadership. If you aren't humble, then you don't know you need help. You don't know how to get through your moments of fear and insecurity. And you don't know that nothing great is accomplished by a single person acting alone. Every great accomplishment requires a team.

Brad Meltzer:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangAnd, and, and I think the thing that we do, what social media does by its very nature, as I was said a little bit before, is it pays attention and rewards the loudest of us, right? What's the article that gets passed along the most? It's the most controversial one. That's what gets the most likes, because it's just the most interesting. It doesn't have to be right, doesn't have to be wrong, but that... we are promoting the loudest thing. We're promoting the loudest people. We're promoting whoever is good at going, "Me, me, me", like we're waving our hands and saying, "Look at me". And again, I'm tired of that. I think there's no coincidence that the big biographies last year were of Neil Armstrong and Mr. Rogers, and it's because as a culture we're starving for that humility again. We're starving for those who don't say "Me, me, me", but who remember the word we. Remember the word us. Remember to look at something beside themselves instead of just a mirror. And I think again, the reason we see it is because that's what the culture needs. The culture always tells you what it needs. You never get the heroes you want. I study heroes in history, that's my specialty, and you never get the heroes you want. You get the heroes you need. And so, I think it's that need to have, whether it's Tom Hanks playing Mr. Rogers or the real life documentary, that's not just happens out of nothingness, it's because there's a need right now for that level of humility to come back. For that level of kindness to come back

Carly Fiorina:
And for that level of leadership to come back. You believe ordinary people change the world. I believe that's the only way the world changes. And that ordinary people are, all of us, are gifted with extraordinary potential. And the question is, how is it unlocked? When is it unlocked? And that potential is never unlocked without the things we're talking about. Humility and empathy and kindness and a willingness to serve something larger than yourself. You also made a really interesting comment earlier on in our conversation, about how important differences are. And they are so important, that each of us are unique, that we bring different perspectives to the table. And those differences make us a rare, but it also makes our teamwork really more effective. And one of the other things I worry about with social media, it's not just that we lift up the wrong people and that we celebrate the wrong behavior, we also promote tribalism. Where people are looking to be the same as someone else in the tribe. The amount of time people spend sort of curating their image so that it fits into some tribe is so, I think, destructive to each of us recognizing what's unique about me and how can I leverage what's unique about me to do something greater than me.

Brad Meltzer:
Yeah, and I think the reason that happens is when we were up and there was no internet to really... not to turn into old fogies on this, but let's do it for a moment. I used to love it, here's a perfect example, I used to love when I grew up, I loved comic books. Okay? I just grew up with comics. I love them. I always read them. There was maybe one other kid, but usually no other kid in my whole school that liked comic books. So as a result, I had to figure out how to talk to those kids who liked things that were different than me. So I had to learn to talk about sports, I had to learn how to talk about whatever anyone liked to talk about. There just wasn't that many people like me. So I had to use those muscles to learn how to adapt. And today if you want to find people about comic books or butterflies or art deco chairs, go on the internet and there were giant groups dedicated to them. Dedicated to whatever your obscure-

Carly Fiorina:
Whatever your thing, you have a tribe.

Brad Meltzer:
Kết quả xổ số Haojiang... is a tribe. And as a result, we don't develop the muscles anymore to be outside a tribe. We just... we are very comfortable. It's really easy if everyone likes your stuff. So, I always believe our greatest strength is always our greatest weakness. And to me, the internet, our greatest strength, is we are so easy to find each other. It's so great to find people who are like you. But our greatest weakness is exactly the same thing. Is that we don't anymore have the patience to wade through the culture or even people who have something that's a little bit different than you. When we're, "Why bother? Just find the people that like the same crap I do and let's be friends, and we lose something in that.

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangYeah, exactly.

Brad Meltzer:
It's a real disaster for us. And I think... but again, the culture will always produce the heroes that we need. And I think your podcast existing and the fact that even exists and is searching for it, is another example of, you know you're not alone. And what you're doing is vital work because you're making people say, "Hey, yes, we do need something better". And when we start saying that out loud, that's when you get better leaders. That's when you get better heroes.

Carly Fiorina:
Well, and the work that we do through my organization in communities across the country, there are wonderful leaders in these communities who are solving real problems, and all the way back to your children's book, the first step honestly that I've learned in my work, is to get these people to understand they are leaders. There's so much that we can say, "Oh no, no, no, it's someone else. It's somebody up there. It's, the person at the top of the org. chart or the person with the fame or the person in Washington, someone else is going to change the world. It's not on me". And yet people are changing the world. They're capable of changing the world. And so, I asked the question about culture because obviously you and I and so many others that I've interviewed for this podcast, are working in our own ways to try and change the culture, to try and lift up the right kind of leaders and the right kind of behavior and the right common kind of example. And I know in addition to your books, you now have a new out on PBS that's really focused once again on kids. Talk to us about that work and how you think it is creating the heroes we need, not the heroes we want.

Brad Meltzer:
Yeah. And I think one of the things that you just touched on was reminding people that it's possible. And one of the things we do in our kids' books is we have this cartoon, beautiful artwork that looks like a cross between Charlie Brown meets Calvin and Hobbes. And that's why kids love it, because they see this little version of Amelia Earhart and this little version of Abraham Lincoln. But I'll tell you this, at the back of every book, the end, the last page is always a real picture of that hero. So when we did, I am Rosa Parks, the last page has the real Rosa Parks. She's not just a cartoon in the children's book, but she's a real person. And a friend of mine years ago was reading the book with his, he's white, his daughter's African-American, and he's reading the book with her. A mixed race family and they get to the last page and she's, six or seven years old and she gets to that picture of Rosa Parks, she says, "Wait a minute, that really happened? That really happened"? And he said, and suddenly he was having a real conversation about race with his daughter, which of course he said I should have had years earlier. But it's a scary subject and... but he was suddenly having it. And I tell you that simply to say that we need to remind people of their own power. I don't think the world changes by just forcing it to change. You change by starting... the change begins when you change yourself. Gandhi always had that point-

Carly Fiorina:
That's right. That's right, and [crosstalk 00:31:11].

Brad Meltzer:
It has to... and so what we did with the T.V. show is we just said, "Okay, let's take this, what we're doing with the I am books with the ordinary people change the world books, and now let's bring it to millions of kids". Because I love the fact that people take our books and want to bring the stories of Rosa Parks and Dr. King and build libraries of real heroes for their kids and their grandkids or nieces or nephews. But now we're doing with PBS, we took the I am books, we made a cartoon version of them, it's called Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum is the T.V. show. It's about Xavier, his sister and their best friend Brad, who looks remarkably like me, the most handsome character in cartoons you've ever seen. And they basically, every episode they have a problem. Like an example would be that they're being bullied. They go back in time with their secret museum to meet Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks teaches them how to deal with a bully and they come back to the present day and they use that lesson. And the whole reason we do it is to remind... the show ends the same way every single episode. And it ends with them looking right at the camera, right at the screen. And they say that Rosa Parks, she was a kid just like you, just like me and kids like you can change the world. And I remember when I was five years old, Mr. Rogers used to tell me, every episode of Mr. Rogers, that I was special, right? That there was something different about me that was just made me special in a different way. And I love the fact that we get to now, through our books, through our T.V. show, that we get to that, to millions of kids out there and tell them that the power is within them. Because once you do that, to me that's how you change the world.

Carly Fiorina:
Amen brother. That's all I can say, because it's so true and it's why I said a couple minutes ago that for me, I'm working with adults in communities, young people, but nevertheless adults, not children, but it's the same thing. The most important first step is for them to say, "Oh, I can do this. I can lead. I can change the world. I can solve this problem that's right in front of me". It's so interesting. And you've talked about two different things that we do that disempower people from understanding their own leadership capability. On the one hand you talked about the fact that we lionize our historic heroes. We make them perfect, we wire brush them. And then of course when we learn sometimes that they weren't perfect, that they were flawed, then we get disappointed sometimes and we say, "Oh, well maybe they weren't what we thought they were". No, they were human beings with all the flaws and frailties and mistakes that all of us as human beings make. And yet they were also leaders that changed the world. And at the same time, we also lift up and call leaders a bunch of people who aren't leading at all. But who are the me, me, me and the... it's all about the fame and the controversy and the conflict and the lack of civility and who's shouting the loudest and who's winning the most, none of which has anything to do with leadership. And so between those two tendencies, wow, it's easy for people to say, "There's nothing I can do. I'm not an extraordinary person. I'm just an ordinary person and all these people that are doing these things, that's not me". And yet within each of us is the power to change the world. And of course you are so right in starting with kids.

Brad Meltzer:
Yeah. And then listen, I start with myself also. I mean I feel like you have to start with you. Every day... my first book that I ever wrote got 24 rejection letters. And the last 2, 22 rejections came quickly. I will tell you there were... I got 24 rejection letters. There were only 20 publishers at the time and I got 24 rejection letters, which means some people were writing me twice to make sure I got the point. But what happened was, is the 23rd and 24th rejection letter I thought were going to actually be acceptance letters. There were two, the last two people, said they actually liked the book and they had me... I came in for an interview. They told me they liked them, my agents said, "Wait by your phone, we're going to get offers from them". So it was back in the day before cell phones where you waited by your phone, and I sat by the phone, the phone rang and I was in college debt and law school debt and all this debt, and I pick up the phone waiting for her to tell me how I was going to get out of my debt and how we had sold the book, and I picked up the phone and my agent said to me, "Sorry kiddo". And my heart sank. And I look back on that moment, I don't look back and say, "Well, 24 people told me to give it up. And I was right and they were wrong and ha ha on them. That's a pigheaded way to look at it. But I'll tell you my secret. Here's my secret, is that every day Carly, that I sit down to work, I replay that moment in my head. I re-imagine the kind of phone I was holding when I got that call. It was one of those see-through ones where you could see the wires inside because I was high tech at the time it seemed. I picture the formica desk on my left, the box spring in the mattress because we couldn't afford a headboard, that was on my right. I picture the, in Washington D.C., the little terrorists that I was looking at, and the fire station I was staring at, and then I literally close my eyes and say those words to myself, "Sorry kiddo". And for 20 years I say those words because I never want to think I made it. I never want to think that I've done it and I've had success. I never want to lose that hunger I had when I was 20 years old and I certainly don't want to ever think that I'm so good, because if I do I'm finished. And for 20 years, every single day that I sit down, I say those words, "Sorry kiddo. Sorry kiddo. Sorry kiddo". And it grounds me every day to make sure that I'm never think that I've done it all.

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangWell, what a great lesson to leave our listeners with because it's true, when we think we've arrived, then we're done. One of my favorite quotes is from Charles Darwin who said, actually, he did not say the strongest of the species survive. What he actually said, after all his many years of research was, "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but those most adaptive to change". And I think what you're reminding us of, is that people who change the world are always growing, learning, stretching, changing. They never rest on their laurels. They never say, "I'm done". They always look at the problem in front of them or the opportunity in front of them and say, "How can I have an impact? How can I make this better? How can I change the world"? Because each of us can.

Brad Meltzer:
Yes, and I believe ordinary people change the world, but I also know there's no such thing as an ordinary person.

Carly Fiorina: T hat's right. That's right. Each of us have far more potential than we realize and we have the potential to change the order of things for the better. Brad, thank you so much for joining us on By Example. You are a wonderful example and you help remind us through your own example and through those that you write about, what real leadership is. I truly appreciate you joining us.

Brad Meltzer:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangAnd thanks for doing this for so many people out there really, really necessary and really needed, appreciate it.

Carly Fiorina:
Kết quả xổ số HaojiangAll the best. That's all for now. If you enjoyed this podcast, you can visit carlyfiorina.com or iTunes for more episodes. And make sure you subscribe to By Example, so you never miss an episode. To receive updates and exclusive offers. Text By Example to 345-345, and while you're at it, you can send us feedback on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @carlyfiorina or by email at byexample@carlyfiorina.com. As always, thanks so much for tuning in. I'm Carly Fiorina and this is By Example.