Academic Excellence

Introduction: This speech was delivered to the men of the Pi Kappa Alpha - ΔΧ on Sunday Evening, December 11th, 2006. Its objective was to promote academic excellence among the membership by sharing 10 "Wish I would have known that" bits of experience.

1. Knowledge is a commodity. What you know has nothing to do with what your worth. Value is determined by what you can do and how fast you deliver quality. Master a few valuable skills and learn to sell them effectively.

2. School tests your ability to learn. What and how is damn near irrelevant. What matters most is that you find an effective way to quickly master difficult concepts. You will do this literally thousands of time in your professional life.

3. GPA is a statement of character. "A" students get "A's" because they want them more than "B" students, and a hell of a lot more than "C" students. Employers - get it. Grad schools - get it. "C" Students - don't.

4. Resumes open doors. Top tier statistics and leadership roles increase your chances of getting an interview. They don't guarantee squat.
Winning candidates close deals by a combination of what they have done and who they are.

5. Learn with passion. Take great care to ensure that your studies carefully align with your internal source of energy. You have only one person to blame if college doesn't magically land you in a dream job - or start-up, or grad school, or...

6. Know your strengths. Your value is based upon your unique ability to do a few things exceptionally well. Don't waste time trying to make your weaknesses great. Instead, focus your energies on the making your strengths exceptional, i.e., top 1% internationally.

7. Relationships are everything. What you know might get you a job. Who you know will get you promoted. Spend an inordinate amount of time building new relationships and boosting old ones. Help people who can't directly help you. Don't keep score, but play for keeps.

8. Learn to see. Your vision of the world shapes your ability to succeed within it. Learning to see a little about a lot allows you to make new connections. Learning a lot about a little is the basis of value. Set out to master this balance.

9. Climb tall trees. The forty years after college are a non-stop climb towards retirement. Pick a tree that offers an infinite view and climb like mad. This will ensure that ambition is the only limiting factor in your success.

10. Know what to do. Leaders show up to lead. They learn where they need to go and they don't waste anytime getting there. Demonstrate a willingness to make progress and others will follow.

~Dedicated to 104 South 39th Street.


In Memory of Johnny Harvey

The death of old friends is a part of growing up that nobody really tells you about. Everything just seems so infinite...right up until the day you get an unexpected phone call. It's the second time this year and the third time in my life that I've had to say goodbye. I must admit, it never really seems real. So many of my friends have come in and out of my life, often with years in between, that part of me just expects to run into him again some random Saturday night....not this time.

In summary, for those who have never met him, Johnny was a larger than life person whom everyone loved and respected. We were never close enough to have a deep understanding of one another. But, from afar, it was easy to see that we could have been the best of friends. He wrote a poem, presumably before he left for the Navy, that was delivered at the viewing. I wanted to post it here to honor his contribution.

Goodbye old friend. You are further proof that only the good die young. I would be honored if a little piece of your soul could find its way into my future children.

To Those I Love
by: John (Johnny) Edward Harvey - 7.31.79::11.01.06

When I am gone, release me, let me go...
I have so many things to see and do.
You musn't tie yourself to me with tears,
be happy that we had so many years.
I gave you my love, you can only guess,
How much you gave me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you each have shown,
But not it's time I traveled on.
So grieve awhile for me if grieve you must
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It's only for awhile that we must part.
So bless the memories within your heart.
I won't be far away, for life goes on
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can't see or touch me,
I'll be near...
And if you listen with your heart you'll hear
All of my love around you, soft and clear.
And then, when you must come this way,
I'll greet you with a smile, and "Welcome Home."