The 15th Annual BK Authors Retreat, held Oct 27-30 in Northern California, was a time of reflection and soul-searching; balancing individual with organizational/collective concerns. It prompted thoughts about career and personal aspirations, and where the writing of books and the business of promoting and selling them fits in.

The retreat is produced by an extraordinary group of people: Berrett-Koehler Authors Inc., which is affiliated with Berrett-Koehler Publishers. BK celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2017 and is a company like no other. As stated on its website, “Berrett-Koehler is an independent publisher with the mission of connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all.”  Several days after the retreat, it announced its new constitution. There is also a new digital subscription service, BKpedia.  BK’s Founder and President, Steve Piersanti, was a key participant in the proceedings, as were several other BK staffers. Steve’s presentation of the latest version of his 10 Awful Truths about Book Publishing is always a retreat highlight. Other parts of the BK universe were represented by people from the relatively new Berrett-Koehler Foundation.


BK published my first book, Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life, in 2009. I attended BK retreats from 2009 through 2013, and wrote about them on several occasions. This year marked my return, and I was reminded of many of the reasons I got so much out of previous retreats: making new friends and connections, and renewing friendships with people I had not seen in a long time; enjoying terrific food in an open, communal setting, learning from and helping each other, and getting out of regular daily routines in the peaceful setting of a retreat facility, in this case El Retiro San Inigo Conference Center in Los Altos, California.


(All photos courtesy BK Authors).

The talent show and auction were terrific, as usual. I found the awarding of the Jamie Showkeir Change-the-Conversation Award (named after the beloved BK author who died of ALS in 2015) to be quite moving. The awardees, Aeriel and Kyle Ashlee, participated in the entire retreat. And the discussions, especially in pairs or threes, about the retreat themes of identity and masks (it was Halloween weekend), were thought-provoking, to put it mildly. I left the retreat encouraged by the sheer amount of excellent, crucial writing and work accomplished throughout the year by so many people on a wide variety of subjects.  And I believe that many of us now have the expectation that our thoughts and actions will take unexpected turns in the year ahead.