In Memoriam – Jay Cross
My world shrank a few days ago when Jay Cross passed away. I don’t even remember when I first met him, but it must have been 20 years ago or so. It feels like I always knew him. He was a mentor, a colleague, and I can’t imagine him not being there for a lunch, a chat, or to share a good book. Whenever I was struggling with an idea or needed some creative diversion, Jay was the person I called. His humor and wry observations on life were refreshing in a world increasingly banal. He was debonair, worldly, and brave enough to be different when it mattered most. He could be playing with his toy train one moment, and then diving into a discussion on philosophy the next. He challenged convention, fought against pedagogy for pedagogy sake, explored the edges, and was always learning something new.
Jay attended every Future of Talent Retreat but one. He was part of our core faculty and added perspective and alternate ways of thinking about the future. He was someone I could always bounce ideas off of and count on getting an honest opinion – and usually one I did not necessarily want to hear. Sometimes attendees scratched their heads at Jay’s contrarian and often opposite views to their own, but never once did they think them without merit. He changed many people’s thinking and actions.
In the world of learning, he had few peers. He was an advocate of using common sense to approach learning. Rather than apply some theory, Jay just did it. He experimented, failed fast and often, and was always improving. He never feared what others thought. He was an inspiration to hundreds and changed the way people thought about learning through his books on informal learning and most recently on real learning.
I remember many lunches where we hatched ideas for books or articles and let our imaginations run wild. Jay’s ideas were always wilder and wider than mine!
But I’ll always have fond memories of Jay in his Santa Claus suit at Christmas, enjoying a glass of bubbly, or introducing me to some artist or thinker I should have known, but didn’t. He was knowledgeable about food, wine, art, music, philosophy, history, and so much more – a true autodidact. There are few people as inspiring or original as Jay. A bit of sunshine has gone from my life. and both the Future of Talent community and I shall miss him dearly. RIP, Jay.