Lately, it seems as though many people I speak to feel like hiding under the covers, whether it be in reaction to events on a global scale or the transition from warm late summer and autumn days to the cold of winter. In publishing, it is also an odd time, as everyone else starts focussing on the coming Christmas, publishers are frantically working on Spring and Summer titles, planning ahead to their Fall lists for the following year and potential projects for the years beyond. In the publishing world, we never seem to live in the ‘now’, but in the what-comes-next and what-will-be worlds of second-guessing shifts in the zeitgeist or spotting that elusive ‘new’ idea. However, when I had a momentary dip in enthusiasm earlier this week, an email arrived in my inbox that reminded me that instead of hiding or being overwhelmed by the pace of change, this is the time to think smarter and work harder to get where we really want to be – not just in publishing, but in all walks of life. The email that reset my thinking was an article from John Athanasiou, director of people at HarperCollins UK, in which he outlined the five key skills publishers need now:

  1. Powerful communication and high emotional intelligence
  2. Openness, integrity, honesty
  3. Creativity in problem solving
  4. Learning with agility
  5. Results-driven work


Publishing is all about people who are driven by genuine passion for their work (they are definitely not in it for the money) and it is the passion of people that creates real change. I think Athanasiou’s five skills are all touchstones that we need as we prepare to leave 2016 behind and find ways of embracing 2017 and making it a year of creativity.

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