THE FRESHMAN

 

 

Keynote Speech to the Candidates for the Balanced Man Scholarship; presented by the

Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity at Lawrence Tech 2013

 DIG DEEP, REACH HIGH 

Many of you are students of Architecture. When constructing a skyscraper, you must dig a deep foundation in order to reach the greatest heights. The deeper the foundation, the higher the structure. Let your educational roots be set deep in this base of knowledge, so your mind may soar to its optimum expression.

As freshmen, you have 3 primary areas of growth ahead of you:

  1. Scholarship
  2. Involvement
  3. Relationships

SCHOLARSHIP

You are now in the farm club. You made it to college. You are on a new team. Your talents and abilities brought you this far. They will sustain you. This opportunity is a test to see what you’re really made of. Let it prepare you for the big leagues of life. In order to be a superstar of scholarship, you must use:

  • intelligence
  • common sense
  • available information
  • intellectual property

Intelligence got you here. Your proven methods of study, application, understanding and research, got you here. The better you utilize the new assets available to you, the professors, subject matter experts, peers and knowledge base, the more you will exploit your own resources and the greater your intelligence will grow.

Common Sense is your own ability to know when to persevere on a project, and when to bail out; when to dig deeper, and when enough is enough. If you must fail, fail fast. Look at failure as a form of success in seeking another way. If you find in your heart and mind that you are so close to a new discovery, that you can’t quit, don’t! Do not quit. Find a way to see it through. If you know it is so near you can feel it, find it, discover it, and deliver it. It was meant to be. You will grow when you know you don’t know everything.

Available Information are your assets and resources. Your peers, teachers, the internet, library, discussion and analysis, and research and trial groups are various avenues which will lead you to superstar status. They are already here, waiting, asking to be used. Use them. Utilize them. Add to them. Take from them. They need to be used.

Intellectual Property is the real estate you will claim during your time here and beyond. It lives in the words, drawings, ideas, concepts, sketches and doodles you get down with pen and paper. The written word has lived for thousands of years. It will live for thousands more. Everything you study, every idea you will explore, every imagination you daydream, began with words. Write your ideas down in black and white. Draw diagrams. Sketch. Write insights, methods, concepts. Mechanical, technical, and data devices suck compared to a piece of paper with ink on it. Would the Declaration of Independence be the same if handed out on USB sticks? Would the paintings of Picasso hold their weight on DVD? Every experiment, formula, building, city was drawn on paper first. This is the one sure way to claim ideas as your own. You may think your silly little ideas mean nothing, but if it lives on paper with a date and a signature of copyright, who knows what may become of it? Who knew that, in 1977, when Milton Glaser wrote 3 letters and a heart symbol on a sketchpad that it would be the present basis for a whole floor of lawyers protecting the intellectual property for the State of New York in the iconic “I ♥ NY”; a symbol that brought pride and vitality to a dying city with admirers from around the world. He gave it to the city for free, and never made a cent from it. Yet I bet every single reader has seen it in one form or another. That is the strength of Intellectual Property.

INVOLVEMENT

See yourself as “The Apprentice.” You could be Disney’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, or Trump’s “Business Apprentice,” whether your brain is more right-minded or left; but your involvement here at Lawrence Tech will help you decide where your strengths lie. Your involvements will include:

  • projects
  • risk
  • responsibilities
  • social

Projects are the cornerstone of finding your place, of staking your claim, of finding and expressing yourself. When given a new project, lead when you can lead. If the thing resonates with something near and dear to you, where you feel you have background and backbone, lead the team. Follow your instincts, build your team and know your roles. Make sure everyone else is clear on their contributions. If you are the leader, act like one. Let them know who you are and where you stand, and then share your understanding until it’s as clear to everyone else as it is to you.

Risk is absolutely necessary for success. Five out of five of the many men I’ve been blessed to befriend, two billionaires and three multi-millionaires, when asked what one piece of advice took them from mediocre to multi-millions, instantly gave the same answer, “RISK.”  In other words, lead when you can’t. See what does work. See what doesn’t. Fail quick. Move on. You may not always know the course. You may not always have the answer. You often won’t always know the way. Your strength and vision may falter. Lead, even when you can’t. Resources will swell up around you. Angels will come to your aid as long as your conviction is true and your purpose is good. Risk, to be rewarded.

Responsibilities are the other integral part of involvement in every venture. Keep your word when you say you will do something. This is how you build trust and gain integrity. Do more than your share, more than is required, for every class, every project, every endeavor. If you cut your team short, you cut yourself short. If you skip details, you get skipped over in future projects. Own up to your responsibilities and be clear on what they are, before you commit to doing them. No one said you have to do what you don’t want to do. Find something about it that you like, and do it, with all you’ve got.

Social involvement is more than Facebook. In fact, Facebook would be the carp of your social involvement, being one example of where the bottom feeders lie. No, your social involvement should be the groups, fraternities, organizations and associations you choose to belong to; but don’t join them all, only the ones which apply to you through shared values, beliefs, ideals, morals and academic code. As far as Social Networks, be very careful of what you put out there. Like intellectual property, your personal property will always be found; and the worse it is, the more it will be magnified. Sadly, more emphasis is put on what a man posts, than the man he really is through known association. Don’t be that man. Be the man whose deed follows his word, and let your words be heard through your means and mouth, not the hearsay of others who twist it to your disgrace.

RELATIONSHIPS

As a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity at Western Michigan University, I garnered many, many, many close relationships, memories, partnerships, friendships, and experiences through their association. It was evident in a recent golf outing, when “60 of my closest friends,” were able to relate and reveal our lives over this span of time, without missing the proverbial “step.” We retold stories from our respective viewpoints, keeping the mutual admiration and respect that only a bond of brothers can have. This is only one example of a lasting relationship. You will have relationships of many types:

  • business
  • clients
  • friends
  • yourself

Business relationships should be many and varied. It’s helps to know who you’re dealing with as well as where you’re going. If a company is doing things you’d like to do, making products and progress in areas you admire and would like to be a part of, research them, find out who runs them, and investigate how you can be part  of their mission. The more you know who you’re looking for and what you’re after, the shorter the trip will be. They too should coincide with your values and beliefs; vegans need not apply to slaughterhouses. If you believe in the “green” movement, gravitate toward them. Stay true to yourself, regardless the perks or powers they promise.

Clients are a different aspect of relationships you’ll gain. These are the individuals within companies and corporations whom you will deal with more often. Follow through with them and keep your word in regard to what you’re offering. Again, build integrity on your word as much as your work. Be truthful as to what you can deliver, in what capacity and according to what timeline. If you project deliverables honestly, and deliver sooner than promised in a greater capacity with increased savings, move to the head of the class. This client will become an attribute all the way down the line.

Friends are relationships that come and go, based on all the other aspects we’ve previously covered. One true friend is the least you will need. Be it male or female, they will be the one to tell you there’s sauce on your cheek; that the person you’ve chosen for a lifelong commitment is the “perfect” person, or the “wrong” one. This friend is there when even your family is not. Choose carefully. And be as equally valuable to their lives and they are to yours. That is the only way.

Your relationship to Yourself is the final and most everlasting. Push yourself in mental, physical and spiritual capacities. Engage in solo pursuits that push you to your limits in order to learn what they are. Try yoga, transcendental meditation, strength training, and every form of exercise until you find your fit. You must. You will. Taking care of yourself is imperative. It builds discipline, self-esteem, respect, confidence, truth, love and honor. Your health is your number one concern, now more than ever. Don’t leave it up to others. Don’t depend on doctors or drugs or the next trend to save you from poor habits. Develop every aspect of yourself, the sooner the better. See the ripple effect it has on those around you.

In closing, I want you to touch as many lives as you can, with this one life of yours. I want you to let this term allow you to dig deep roots, so your branches may reach in many directions to touch every one you come in contact with, and leave them with the gifts you have to give. Be grateful, be thankful, be someone and something that leaves a legacy. Dig Deep, Reach High. Thank you.

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