Leadership Exchange - Spring/Summer 2018 - 37

WOMEN I ADMIRE - Members' Dedications to Women they Admire

J.K. Rowling:

An Inspiring and Influential Woman
Who Brought Magic Back to Life

J.K. Rowling, author
of the well-known
Harry Potter books,
has touched hundreds
of millions of lives for
the past 20 years by
sharing her world of
imagination across
generations on a
global scale. Since
the first book was
published in 1997,
over 500 million Harry
Potter books have
been sold worldwide
as of Bloomsbury Publishing's last count in February 2018.
Eight very successful Harry Potter movies also came from
these books, followed by Harry Potter prequels (Fantastic
Beast movies) and even an award-winning Harry Potter play on
Broadway right now.
Rowling was named the most influential woman in the U.K. in
2010 by leading magazine editors. She continues to be listed
as one of the "most inspirational women" as well as one of the
"most influential women" by publications like Forbes, Time,
and Vogue. In 2015, she was even called the most influential
person (not just woman) alive today by Wharton Business
School's Professor Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist
focusing on work motivation and finding purpose at work. He
noted that Rowling's books inspired a whole new generation
to read, helping to train kids in social and emotional skills at a
time when they're still young and impressionable, and having
a continuing impact on them. In fact, in 2014, a research study
by psychologists found that reading Harry Potter books and
empathizing with the characters reduced prejudice by improving
the attitudes of elementary, high school, and university students
toward certain stigmatized or marginalized groups.
So, who is J.K. Rowling? Did she set out to be the inspirational
and influential woman she is today? Not exactly, but she did
have a story to tell. Although her Harry Potter books have
been noted as having a positive and profound social, moral,
and political impact on the world, Rowling's own life was far
from perfect. Through the bits and pieces revealed about her
personal life as the world became better acquainted with her,
we learned that she was just an ordinary person with a dream
and odds stacked against her, but she never gave up.
Rowling has commented that she was a "very plain child"
whose teenage years were not exactly happy, coming from a
difficult family and dealing with her mother's multiple sclerosis.
During the seven-year period before the first book was

published, while she was working on her Harry Potter story,
Rowling lost her mother to the disabling disease, married
someone in Portugal alleged to be abusive, moved herself
and her infant daughter to Scotland to get away from him,
obtained a restraining order against him when he followed
and found them before later getting a divorce, and was forced
to live on welfare to survive. Rowling has admitted to being
depressed and even considered suicide while she was jobless
and penniless. In her 2008 Harvard commencement speech,
Rowling said, "An exceptionally short-lived marriage had
imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it
is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless ...
By every standard, I was the biggest failure I knew."
Yet, she continued to write and create her magical and
intricate Harry Potter world, finding solace writing in coffee
houses with her small child sleeping next to her. She never
gave up even after receiving rejection letter after rejection
letter from book publishers until Bloomsbury finally gave
her a chance. We all know what happened after that as her
now famous books took off in popularity first in the U.K.,
then the U.S., and now the world. Rowling's confidence in
herself and her dream serve as an inspiration to all women.
While society may tend to instill a fear of failure, true belief
in one's self and the support from stellar women will lead to
limitless success. n

Laura Whipple

Director of Administration
Adams Stirling PLC
lwhipple@adamsstirling.com
(800) 464-2817

"Don't try to add more years
to your life. Better add more
life to your years."
- Blaise Pascal

GLA ALA Leadership Exchange I Spring/Summer 2018

37



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Leadership Exchange - Spring/Summer 2018

Leadership Exchange - Spring/Summer 2018 - Cover1
Leadership Exchange - Spring/Summer 2018 - Cover2
Leadership Exchange - Spring/Summer 2018 - 3
Leadership Exchange - Spring/Summer 2018 - 4
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Leadership Exchange - Spring/Summer 2018 - Cover4
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/elawmktg/leadershipexchange_20120405
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