The Richard Florida/Peter Drucker/Jane Jacobs Connection
April 5th, 2011
I’m always interested in finding out what makes successful people tick. The recent Fast Company feature Leadership Hall of Fame: Richard Florida, Author of “The Rise of the Creative Class” makes for fascinating reading, on a number of levels. Richard Florida has had a zooming career as an author and professor, built on his profession of urban planning. He is also a blogger with a devoted following. Mediabistro reported recently that he will add to his workload as a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, one of his blogging homes. What particularly struck me in the Fast Company interview is his revelation that two of the biggest influences on his work have been Peter Drucker and Jane Jacobs, the author of the classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, who was from my home town, Scranton, Pa. “My work hopes to be a synthesis of Jacobs and Drucker,” Florida says. Last year, I blogged about my return to Scranton to speak about my book, Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life. I noted the Drucker connection to the city, his commencement address to the University of Scranton in 1964. Jacobs, who graduated — albeit many years before — from my high school, Scranton Central, died in 2006 at 89.
Her work as a critic of cities, neighborhoods and urban planning was successful despite having no academic background in urban planning. Like Drucker, she remained relevant and influential throughout a long life. And similar to him, books continue to be published about her, including one released yesterday, a collection of essays published by the American Planning Association, Reconsidering Jane Jacobs. Another wonderful thing about her legacy is Jane’s Walk USA, including one to be held in Scranton on May 7. The final years of her life were lived in Toronto, where Florida teaches at the Rotman School of Management. In Drucker and Jacobs, he has chosen his professional role models well. Aiming to do work that will live beyond our lifetime is a noble goal.