“Finally, after all those classes, papers and stressful exams, there it was in my hand, a BA in History, Lake Forest College, 1979. “Now what?” I thought. I had no classes scheduled, my dorm room was vacated and all my possessions were in the car. Summer break and next year’s classes were vestiges of the past – I had no plan beyond leaving. Amidst all the congratulations and cheerful faces, inside my head I was nervous about what the future would hold and what I would do to get started. The reality that I was now on my own was here, staring me in the face.

imagesHad someone come up then and offered a lifetime employment contract at $20,000 a year I would have signed it on the spot. If anyone then told me that my career would include being CEO of a financial services company with over $1 billion in revenue, affecting the lives of thousands of employees and earning seven figures followed by becoming a board director in the energy field, I would have laughed. The last math class I took was Algebra 2 in sophomore year of high school and I barely got by that with a D. All that I knew about energy was that it was something you either had in the morning or didn’t.

But this is a true story. From that day with BA in hand, I have made a series of decisions – some small, others large – over 34 years that took me on a path I never would have imagined. What I have learned is that the accumulation of skills, not just knowledge, opened many doors and built strong relationships in my work and personal life. Skills in areas such as job search basics, personal improvement, teamwork, strategy, management and leadership all make a difference.

Additional Excerpts

“Like any learning opportunity, there is a process you can apply to become better at each skill.“

“It is no longer about what you are being taught; it is about how fast you can learn.”

“Not knowing your passion as you graduate is a challenge to be solved, and it isn’t done through waiting for an epiphany. It is built through small steps, reflection, taking action and constant effort.”

“The key purpose of a resume is to get you an interview, not a job.”

“…don’t get caught in the quicksand of wanting to be 100% sure it is the right field.”

“Management, by definition, means you succeed through other people.”

“Listening is different than waiting to speak.”

“When contemplating a change, be sure you are going TO a new role not AWAY from your
current role…Good life advice as well.”

“Times of crises are not times to create a plan, they are times to execute a plan.”

“Being able to disagree, without being disagreeable is a valuable trait.”