Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Go Beyond - Part I

As we pursue our professional goals, the most common barrier we will run into is a lack of experience not a lack of degrees.

Several weeks ago, I asked a few questions in a room with about 80 freshmen students. I wanted to know how many of them planned to attend graduate school. Over 75% of the room waived a hand in the air. Immediately following, I asked how many of them were aiming for careers that required additional terminal degrees such as law or medicine. At that point, six students raised their hand. If you do the math, approximately 55 students who haven’t even finished their first semester of college were already assuming their spot in a future graduate program outside of law or medicine. Before they start taking out loans, I want them to consider that graduate/professional degrees are rarely rooted in a guaranteed formula for success.

When time forces you to make career choices toward the end of your undergraduate career, every student faces a sobering reality check. Students know how to be students. They don’t always know how to be experienced employees. Thus, graduate school can become an attractive option. Rather than get uncomfortable in the real world, students can stick with what they know in a cocoon of brick facades, stunning ivory landscapes, and dollar pitchers on Wednesday night.

Unfortunately, grad school delays the inevitable, and this particular procrastination technique can be dangerous and financially reckless to anyone who’s committed to grad school out of convenience rather than a passion to advance a career that depends on specialized areas of study. A friend of mine commented, “It's amazing how much time and effort people invest into a goal which they have failed to identify…Just image if they had known what they wanted, then pursued a degree for support. My god! We would have titans of industry everywhere.”

It’s okay to leave Michigan and school without a firm grasp of your dream job. A budding career is a critical time for discovery, and the real world is a great testing ground to help you find what you love. Our success in our careers depends on our willingness to collect experiences that build self-awareness around our passions and our leadership. If we allow too much education to protect us from the real world, we miss out on the experience necessary to earn respect, build teams, and ignite action behind powerful visions.

Stay tuned for Part II. I’ll be back to share information on two “educational” programs that will enrich the life and career of any Michigan graduate. Go Blue from Texas!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

“There can be no meaningful success without the danger of failing.” – Buzz Aldrin

The Detroit Tigers play Game 1 of the ALCS tonight. As they further attempt to distance themselves from their 119-loss season in 2003, I found “Failure Is a Good Thing” genuinely appropriate. Go Blue from Texas!

Monday, October 09, 2006

What I learn from watching the Detroit Tigers

Like many sons and daughters of the state of Michigan, I jumped ship. On July 24, 2002 (only 452 days after my commencement day in Michigan Stadium), I moved jobless to Austin with paper-thin ties to family and friends. My brother and I drove off our parent’s driveway in Farmington, Michigan. We were proud to take the risk, and even though we’ve never discussed it, we were relieved to dodge the numbing effects of Michigan’s economic war.

As Michigan counts a growing number of foreclosures and unemployment checks alongside our nation’s growing number of dead and wounded, I’m reminded of grandparents and great-grandparents that renewed our country after decades of war and a devastating economic depression. When times get extremely tough, our sports teams become more important than ever.

Our nation has a love affair with sports, because they arrived when we needed them the most. Historically, it was the rise of memorial stadiums and their subsequent hall-of-famers after WWI and WWII that ignited our capacities to heal and participate, both physically and emotionally, in community.

Following WWI, many of our world-class universities erected enormous stadiums to honor the Armed Forces, its veterans, and their fallen brothers. Radio and large college stadiums increased our country’s access to sports. A growing fan base flourished, and it eventually paved the way for sports like baseball and football to raise national interest, broadcasting contracts, and revenue streams that solidified a professional future.

When our veterans returned from WWII, baseball initiated a healing process that liberated us from a dark war and set our sights on a bright future. Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle…their risk-taking and heroics on the field inspired millions of Americans to jump and grasp their dreams. The forties and fifties came to a close with a highly skilled workforce, a booming economy, and political leaders and everyday citizens poised to educate the world on our civil liberties.

Our sports’ heroes and teams give us shared experiences to be proud of, and over the course of a season or major sporting event, communities tap into a collection of positive energy to renew, redefine, and rebuild hope in the future.

Check out “We believe!” in today’s Detroit News.

What would it have been like to sit in Yankee Stadium clinging to the words of Lou Gehrig’s famous farewell speech on July 4, 1939?

People claim it was a “miracle” when the United States beat Russia to win the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. That “miracle” is not nearly as impressive as the millions of Americans who are grateful for that game and all of the days after that game.

In more recent years, what do you remember about the college game day crowds that gathered in stadiums on September 15, 2001 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

Just like the above examples, today’s Detroit Tigers help many of us across the country embrace the brilliant consequences of sports. We admire resilience, and we identify with a hunger to make things better. The Tigers haven’t been this close to the World Series since 1987, and as they continue to inspire their hard-working fans across the state, I see Michigan getting stronger. I see Michigan educating its youth with patience and vision. I see Michigan steadying itself to restore confidence in its fight for a growing economy and emerging industries. I see Michigan poised to bring its sons and daughters back to a state that transformed our daily lives with the automobile and will find other ways to befriend the world with innovative and timely gifts.

This past April, my brother moved back to Michigan to pursue a job promotion with Bacardi USA. He visits our hard-working parents often, and when he helped them celebrate their 28th wedding anniversary this past Friday night, the Detroit Tigers were the main attraction. He paused to send me a text message, “This city is electric!”

Whether it’s the Tigers, Wolverines, or any of the state’s teams, I’m thankful for the men and women who are strengthening Michigan’s pulse at this important time. At 23, maybe I wasn’t patient enough or hopeful enough or tough enough to stay in Michigan. Life is full of choices, and in the words of a storied Wolverine, Bo Schembechler, “Those who stay will be Champions.” It’s a pleasure trying to experience and understand that journey. Thank you, Tigers!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

206 Pictures until Spring Commencement

With Michigan Football off to its best start since 1999, my mind is flooded with campus memories (quite a few are getting foggy). I’ll keep this brief, and maybe you’ll walk away today with a fun way to capture an unforgettable year in Ann Arbor.

I wish I would’ve thought of this during my senior year, but at least I can pass this along to y’all thanks to a friend of mine who graduated from UT in 2003.

Whether you prefer a digital or disposable camera, carry it with you at all times and keep it handy seven days of the week. One of these days, you’ll try to revisit the insignificant and significant things of your life at Michigan. How will you know what all of them are unless you let a photo history tell your story?

Starting with Michigan State this weekend, I think it’s a perfect time for you to commit to taking a single picture every day until the end of your student career. It’s an easy commitment, and when you reflect back on the total collection, you’ll have your own mind-blowing daily record of your Michigan experience. It’s as simple as taking a daily vitamin, and when you graduate, it’s your turn to share your Michigan story with the world. How well will you remember your story? Get snapping. Go Blue from Texas!!!