How can one do justice to “My Story” in a few paragraphs? It seems to me that you would exclude more important relationships and experiences than you would include… a perspective which immediately should tell you something about me.
You see, I find value in every person and situation….not just when it is timely or beneficial. I believe we all have gifts and talents and I am always looking for these strengths. It is fascinating to me that I see so much potential, when others see so little. This is the context which allows me to have vision for an organization. It is at the heart of my ability to raise up a colleague or friend. The attributes are always there and I work to find them.
My personal gifts were developed by way of a unique and distinctive background. I would have enjoyed being 6’5” having an IQ of 150 with untold family wealth. Instead, I took pride in and maximized my true attributes which have proved to be solid and dependable. That approach translated into a career which has raised the bar for a number of prominent Chicago nonprofits. I have dug deep at every turn to excel and the result of my work has made—and continues to make—a meaningful difference in the lives of thousands of people.
I commented to a consultant friend the other day that I feel as if everything I have done in my career has prepared me for this moment…..that I have knowledge and instincts which I’ve never had before. I am excited about my next step. He responded that his old mentor would say, “Before you were smart; now you have wisdom.” I think that viewpoint captures much about me.
Pittsburgh steel mills… a rock solid work ethic… sports every day, therefore, life lessons every day… a close knit family… a grandfather who dispensed tough love… a dad who taught what was right… a mom who was always there… an expectation of excellence, despite a working class setting.
Those are my roots and they represent an indispensible foundation in my life. Those roots are like a touchstone which fit my every need. I value them tremendously and regret that others don’t have such a resource. It is why I believe so strongly in the importance of effective role models, good teachers, quality coaches and responsible families, all of whom are needed to deliver values and principles which change lives.
College was a watershed period in my life. I went to Northwestern University on a full football scholarship; however, it was the overall culture there which most impacted me. From rust belt Pennsylvania to urban, sophisticated NU. From being a first generation college student to succeeding in a hyper competitive academic setting… as an athlete. It was as if my life was repositioned demanding that I be more. A graduate and undergraduate degree later, along with a myriad of experiences and mentors, I am forever thankful for all I received at Northwestern.
In so many ways this paragraph could be “My Story.” For decades, I have been like a heat seeking missile dedicating myself to each professional challenge in my life. I think I’m good. Actually, I think I am very good. I believe I could have excelled in the private sector, however, I chose a slightly different path. The burning desire for me was “to make a difference”… to enrich lives and make the world a better place. That may come across as a bit altruistic to some. To me, it was a mission.
I am proud of my record of achieving meaningful results working for some great Chicago institutions: Northwestern University, Field Museum of Natural History, American Bar Institution, National Louis University, Glenwood School, and St. Joseph High School. Each of these organizations was enhanced by my work.
Those have been my cornerstones in raising the quality of the organizations wherever I have had leadership roles. You cannot expect someone to invest in your mission until they trust and believe in you. Indeed, cultivating long lasting relationships is how I define fund raising and how I have greatly enriched my organizations over the years.
New initiatives are the lifeblood of growth in any organization. This is particularly the case with nonprofits which must succeed in constantly engaging their constituents. As a result, I have an aggressive and successful record of building new programs, remaking old endeavors, and even repositioning entire organizations. It takes vision, but I find what is good and discover what is needed; then develop a consensus to build something better.
There has been richness in my life which I fully attribute to community and friends. So many worthy and meaningful experiences have come from a lifetime of volunteer roles. Years of coaching have allowed me to help many, many young people be more than they ever imagined. A decade of community leadership seemingly gave me as much as I gave it. Chairing committees and advising colleagues in many different venues has become second nature to me.
I wish everyone could have the deep friendships I have had for decades. Many times over the years, I have remarked about the amazing good fortune of having a “team” of wonderful friends. As one friend reminds me, you have to work to make and maintain friendships. Good friends don’t happen by accident, and having them will change your life forever.
If I had nothing else, they would allow me to know that I led a blessed life. My beautiful bride of 38 years has a smile which lights up every room she enters. She is a dynamic business professional whose talent is only exceeded by her huge heart. It is no wonder everyone loves her. Our two daughters have made me proud every day of their lives. Now, their families including three grandchildren enrich life more than I ever could have imagined.
Despite all of the above….indeed, because of all of the above….I cannot wait for tomorrow. There is still so much to do, and I am fully prepared and more capable than ever to succeed in whatever may be the next opportunity. If I am fortunate, those next steps may be taken with you!
In The Godfather, Don Corleone’s raspy voice fit his character perfectly. My similar tone of voice unfortunately lacks the same Hollywood glamour. I’m just raspy. However, the way I ended up with my voice is at least a good story.
How many 48 year olds do you know fracture and dislocate their larynx in two places while playing basketball? An errant elbow to the Adam’s apple will do just that. Twenty-four hours later I could only speak in a whisper. You must understand that I have had virtually every orthopedic injury or surgery imaginable, compliments of old and new sports’ injuries. An operation on your throat, however, where they cut off your airways and give you a tracheotomy for a few days was a forgettable experience. I must say I am indebted to the surgeon who operated on Julie Andrew’s vocal cords for getting me to my Godfather status.
So why do I include this personal nugget of information for you? First, I do not want you thinking I smoke two packs a day, when I have never smoked a cigarette in my life…..one of those commitments to stay in shape for sports which fortunately stuck. Secondly, I am proud to say I hit the winning shot 30 minutes after my throat injury! I would like to think this demonstrates my ability to overcome pain as well as my willingness to take one for the team. On the phone the next day, my mom just thought I needed my head examined.