Archive for May, 2011

Words of Wisdom (?) for Graduates

It’s that time of year when we honor our graduates … whether they are graduating from high school or with an Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate or some other type of degree.

I know some at several levels and we’re actually honoring 17 graduates at church on Sunday morning.   We will list their names in the bulletin and mention them in the service plus Suzy is making a cake and hosting a reception at 12 noon.

Part of our extended family/home just graduated from Mizzou last weekend; OK, technically, Jessica is going to China for a month and is a Summer graduate (Garrett sends her out next week) but we are excited for her that she got to participate in the ceremonies on May 14, 2011. 

Each graduation ends one journey and begins another one.  Here are some words of advice that I would share with graduates … or anyone else for that matter:

  • My friend & mentor Duane Hallock shared the following advice (from one of his colleagues) in his blog []: “Strategy is knowing where you are going and knowing how you’ll get there.” plus Duane’s blog was written before I’d even finished writing my blog about graduation.  Another way to put that is to decide what you want to do and then make a plan to make it happen.  If you have a field of interest but no experience, determine how you are going to break into that field even if that means doing so for FREE.  I had a friend when I was working on my MBA that really wanted to get into Advertising so she went to an Ad Agency and told them she would work Full-Time for FREE for 3 months just for experience and then she did so.  It gave her much better experience than she could’ve got in an entry-level low-paying job and helped her achieve her goals.
  • Be prepared and ASK questions.  My friend Steve really wanted to work for a specific company but they had no openings so he asked if he could just take a tour of their company.  They were so impressed with him, they created a job for him and he still works there about 20 years later.
  • Don’t be afraid to learn new things.  Another friend named Steve was in Law School and looking for a part-time job at the library; they asked if he knew how to use a certain type of software which he would need to write the newsletter (a small portion of the job) and he was honest that he had not ever used it.  That night, he went out and bought the software, taught it to himself, and created a newsletter where every article was highlighting a different reason why he would be great for the job.  He got the job.
  • Get to know bright, honest people.  You can look for ways to help them, you can let their wisdom & work habits rub off on you, or you can even approach them about being a mentor.   However, even if you don’t see direct benefits, it’s a good idea to surround yourself with those that will make you bring your “A” game.
  • Network.  This goes with the previous piece of advice.  By helping others, it might benefit you down the line but don’t help with the goal of receiving or it just won’t work.  You have to be genuine in your desire to make life easier for other people.
  • Read.  I’m amazed by how much I benefit from reading.  Whether it’s something I am reading for pleasure or to grow my faith or to increase my business knowledge, each book brings something to me.

Please share what advice YOU would give to our latest round of graduates.

Categories: Leadership

May 17 is a great day

Today is a day that I look forward to each year. 

This morning, I read in my e-mail edition of The New York Times that “On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court issued its landmark Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka ruling, which declared that racially segregated public schools were inherently unequal.”  While that’s truly an important date in history and makes the day even more significant, the reasons for this day being special are a little more personal.

And THIS year there’s an extra reason to be thankful.  Today my grandson turns 6 months old.  I can’t remember who but someone once said “If I knew how much fun grandkids were, I would have had them first.”  Well, I have to agree.  I’ve blogged about his big sister before although I think this is my first blog to mention my grandson.  Although he’s only 6 months, he’s already crawling and trying to sit up and he has a great smile.  Plus, the kid is huge. He’s already wearing clothes for 12 months.  I’m doing my best to spoil him and to make a statement with his clothes.  So, he has a Royals outfit, an Ohio State onesie which says he’s a future Buckeye, he’s learning to LIVE United and support the United Way, and he’s even able to join me in rooting for the Chicago Bulls (sporting Jordan’s classic “23”) against the hated Miami Heat.  The kid’s lots of fun so Happy 1/2 Birthday!  I’d get you a cake but I don’t think you’re supposed to be eating cake @ 6 months old.

While Aiden’s 1/2 birthday is a new celebration this year, this day has been special for many years … 20 years. 

Because on May 17, 1991, what could and probably should have been a tragedy turned into a 2nd chance.  My wife Liz (who I didn’t meet until 4 years later) was in a car accident that day and was actually pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. However, the Life Flight helicopter took her to North Kansas City Hospital where both Dr. Webb (ironically, the father of one of my best friends growing up) and Dr. Vilmer were miracle workers.  Liz was in a coma for several months and they initially thought she’d never walk again but as everyone who has met her knows, she is a fighter and doesn’t let people say what she can and can NOT do.   While she has had numerous surgeries through the years and still has back issues, she made a complete recovery.  

It was about 4 years after her accident that I met Liz.  She was serving as the Webelos leader for her 2nd son Chris (now, the father of our new grandon!)  while I was an Assistant Scoutmaster for the Boy Scout Troop (which included her oldest son, Kevin) and when the Webelos den (highest level of Cub Scouts) borrowed our equipment for a campout, I went along to help out.   Cubmaster Mike, Den Chief Jason, Webelos leader Liz and I stayed up late into the night chatting around the campfire while the kids were sleeping; little did I know this would develop into an incredible friendship with a lady I’d later be fortunate enough to call my wife.  In fact, a couple years later, it was on May 17, 1997, that I proposed.  We got married on Valentine’s Day in 1998 and recently celebrated 13 years of marriage.  Kevin, Chris, and Kathy have joined us on this journey and more recently they’ve added Lauren, Jessica, and Landon to the team.  And you’ve already heard about Chris and Jessica giving us two grandkids. 

However, today is a celebration of 20 years since a 2nd chance at life for Liz.

Today, I say THANK YOU to the amazing people at North Kansas City Hospital (the same place my grandson was born just 6 months ago) for saving the life of an amazing woman and I give God the glory.  In those 20 years, Liz has made a powerful impact on many lives, including my own.  For that, I consider myself a very fortunate human being. 

So, Happy RE-birthday Liz!   May the NEXT 20 years be free of pain while letting you change lives on an ongoing basis.  I love you and you make me the happiest man on earth. 

~ Mark

Categories: Church, Family, Scouting, United Way