"Wait!" I exclaimed to the young lady I had just met 30 minutes prior. "You have a 22-year-old son! And you're 33 years old! Please explain!"
Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow LinkedIn Influencer and author, Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@Claire). The 32-year-old graduate of Stanford and Oxford (MBA) was one of the early employees of Twitter, responsible for innovation there, and is probably best known for personally getting the Pope to join Twitter. I was blown away by Claire's passion for all things: family, social media, philanthropy, writing, and learning. But when I found out she had a 22-year-old son at the ripe age of 33, I had to learn more. It turns out, of course, that he is a foster son, and their story is an amazing one.
It's such a great story that Claire recently co-wrote a memoir with her son, Sammy. I had the pleasure of sitting down with her again recently to discuss her recent book: Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption.
DK: This is a departure from your other books and blog posts. Tell us about Hope Runs and why you wrote it.
CD: You're right, this is a huge departure. Hope Runs is not a business book-not by a long shot. Instead, it's a memoir of a strange journey I took to meet my foster son; it's also his story of his journey to meet me. It starts in 2006, at the end of a yearlong trip around the world (mine). I went to Kenya to climb a mountain. When someone suggested I stay overnight at a nearby guesthouse before the climb, I agreed. The guesthouse was owned by an orphanage. I never climbed the mountain, and lived at that orphanage for a year. Eventually, I brought Sammy to the U.S. The book is our story."
DK: What was your biggest mistake from your experience, and what did you learn from it?
CD: Learning to understand the depth of the challenges he faced growing up was a huge challenge. Sammy had an incredibly easy transition to the U.S. That said, there are moments that stun me-emphasizing to me the vastly different experience he had growing up, and how it informs his daily life today. One summer day, several years ago, Kenya was in the midst of a huge drought. After Sammy ate a huge chicken dinner one day out here in California, he told me he thought about posting it on Facebook. He didn't, though, because of his worries about making his friends back home feel badly. This tiny incident bowled me over."
DK: How have the experiences of childbirth and adoption been similar? Different?
CD: Very different-yikes! Turns out that live-tweeting my own labor doesn't hold a candle to dealing with college applications for a 21-year-old!"
DK: What is the biggest takeaway people will get from reading Hope Runs?
CD: I hope the takeaway will be that hope exists everywhere, and that lives can change in an instant. Mine did, and anyone's can."
DK: Thanks, Claire!
Hope does, in fact, run-everywhere we let it. Now it's your turn. What surprises have your adventures brought you that you never would have expected? Has your life ever changed "in an instant"? How do you think about "hope"? Please let me know your thoughts in the Comments section below!
Claire Diaz-Ortiz is the author of Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption. She is an author, speaker, and technology innovator who has been named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. Claire was an early employee at Twitter, where she was hired to lead social innovation.