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Posted by Berrett-Koehler Staff.
Connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all!
In Memoriam by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial
Jamie was much loved by a large community and I have read countless heartfelt pieces attesting to his heart, his generosity, his spirit.
Those are all wonderful, but they say nothing more than what could be said about the thousands of people who die every day. They are the things we say and are supposed to say about the departed. We are all ennobled by death.
But to me, Jamie was exceptional not for these big qualities but because of one simple, little trait: he listened. Yes, it is a simple, little thing but that doesn’t mean it’s commonplace. Everyone talks, and some people hear, but very few actually listen. Jamie listened, but more importantly, he didn’t listen on his own terms, he listened on mine. The best listeners will still interpret and process everything through their own lens. Jamie didn’t do this. He listened to me, but he also listened as me. I could try and explain this if you don’t understand what I mean, but if you knew Jamie, I think you know just what I mean. A truly authentic soul is one that can grasp the authenticity of another and inhabit it to help strengthen it. The number of people I’ve met in my life capable of this I could count on the fingers of one hand.
And a single finger is one simple, little thing, but god what a difference when you lose it.
Official Statement by Steve Piersanti, President
We at Berrett-Koehler Publishers mourn the passing of Jamie Showkeir, who died on August 16 from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease). Jamie provided as much service and contribution to the BK community as any person through his roles as author of two BK books (with his wife, Maren, who survives him), head of the BK Authors Cooperative, Board member of The Berrett-Koehler Group, Board member of the Berrett-Koehler Foundation, and simply as friend and advisor to countless individuals and groups in the BK community. Many times Jamie went above and beyond the call of duty in helping people deal with challenging decisions, interpersonal conflicts, and other matters. And what towered over everything else was the way in which he did everything—practicing what he and Maren taught in Authentic Conversations through straightforward yet sensitive and wise questions, comments, and facilitation. Jamie's presence made a difference in every group in which he served and every conversation in which he participated. That was his ultimate gift to all who knew him.
Jeevan has put his finger on exactly what quality of Jamie was so special. At my first Berrett-Koehler Author's Retreat, I was a new person and also the youngest person there and feeling very out of place. Jamie went out of his way to ask my advice, and listened to me very carefully. I went away from that conversation feeling like he really valued me and my thoughts. He was a real gentleman of the kind that you rarely meet these days.
I too celebrate the life and mourn the passing of one great guy. I was new to the B-K community, and Jamie reached out to offer his guidance. While time and circumstances did not allow much contact, I benefit from his legacy now as a member of the Berrett-Koehler Authors Coop, and as someone who aspires to emulate his qualities of engagement, service, and love. May his spirit continue to have its presence felt in a world that truly needs to work for us all.
Such a lovely tribute. I did not have the honor of knowing Jamie very well, and yet it did not take knowing him well to note right away his incredibly authenticity. What a warm person he was.
His journey has touched me profoundly, and I know that if I am ever faced with certain death, I will remember him: his courage, his humility, his grace, his authenticity.
I also find the fact that he was born, met the love of his life, and died on August 16 so magic. Just like out of a novel by one of my favorite writers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It's almost like he willed his life as only the most connected with the universe can. Grande Jamie.