Providing you know me (possibly including [understanding] my history), or at least follow this Blog, you understand that I was forever changed by many of my experiences at Radford.
Obviously, this does not make me unique amongst college graduates. However, I am self aware enough to understand that my particular path to, through, and beyond college is extremely unique (and, this is why many of you bother to read this Blog, and are in my life).
So… I arrived on campus in 1980, and “got out” in 1984. Through an astonishing sequence of events (but, lets allow also for continuity) most of my experiences established, and set into motion, my business philosophy, and general approach in terms of how my multiple companies have and, and shall, affect the lives of everyone within my sphere of influence.
Off we go.
After getting acquainted over the telephone, Dr. Clelland and I decided to entitle my talk: “Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, and them Corporate Fellas: The Laws of Natural selection”. Many of you will recognize some of my published work (LINK) /1 – and, certainly a consistent theory around whom actually is an entrepreneur – and, perhaps those that can’t (shouldn’t?) be.
I have loads of opinions – and, more stories with which to give them life.
So… I traveled (back) to Radford, curious about changes within, and around, the University itself; and, what it would feel like to be there again. The last time I had visited Radford was on a rescue mission involving my fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon (never mind the details) back in 1988.
I had a lot of adventures, trials and tribulations while at Radford. I was in student government; a varsity athlete (Cross Country); I fell in love at that place – and, had my heart broken – all setting the stage for a particular world view, and go-forward focus.
It’s also the place where I met Dean Bonnie Hulburt and Professor Nick Pappas. It’s also where my Mother was a force of nature in many of my friend’s lives; and, a place where my Grandad visited – and, amazingly, intersected with Pappas; setting into motion… well… everything.
Dr. Clelland picked me up at the Roanoke Airport. We hit it off during the drive to Radford proper, both sharing a passion for business, and how (why?) it works. NOTE: Belinda, my assistant, had warned him weeks in advance – I rarely where a suit. Jeans are the uniform. But, (to the immense relief of my staff) I had enough respect, and a sense of gravitas around the event, not to where khaki shorts.
Just so you know, I never had much of an opportunity to walk around the campus as I had planned. As soon as we dropped my kit off at my hotel, Dr. Clelland took a cellular call with the news that the scheduled chairman for the Collegiate Entrepreneurial Elevator Pitch Contest was going to have a problem making the event.
Dr. Clelland ended his call, and looked up at me. As soon as he filled me in, I volunteered to step in, and be part of the panel.
I was not sure, at that moment, if Dr. Clelland, was pleased, relieved, or concerned. So, I naturally assumed that latter, hitched up my drawers (because they are quite baggy these days) and started thinking how I might adjust my talk to accommodate or include this opportunity. I love to wing stuff. It suits my (please feel free to fill in the blank: _________________) nature.
We drove through town and found a place for a quick lunch. I decided to fill in some blanks for Dr. Clelland. I shared with him the story of my first two business exploits while at Radford – selling moonshine, and starting and selling a moving company. I felt this was important because I had an ever-changing train of thought percolating in my head.
My instincts were kicking in, and I was getting a “vibe”.
Details will follow within the verbose body of this Blog post – and, other parts to follow. But, I am confident that Dr. Clelland was affected by my adventures less than he was possibly intrigued. I did ask him if I should give Dean Gilbert a heads-up around the moonshine part. She was only settling into her newly appointed position as head of the Business College, and had just established a level of accreditation that will most certainly raise the bar throughout the Commonwealth state. She is on a roll. The Entrepreneurial Summit could be rather important to the University – and, certainly to the Business College. Next is a symposium around Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged sponsored by BB&T Bank.
Dr. Gilbert was delightful. An instant inspiration. She did bat an eye when I ran the moonshine story by her. However, I don’t recall her growing pale. She was instantly raised in my estimation and she reminded me a bit of (now retired) Dean Bonnie Hulburt. As we parted for the afternoon, she squared her shoulders; offered me a rueful laugh and an assumingly firm handshake – maintaining that she was delighted I was part of the program.
Thomas Jefferson and Ayn Rand surely must appreciate her. /2
The best part.
The original plan was for me to visit briefly with Dean Gilbert, and then drop in to visit with several business classes, and spend time with students; tell my story; and, answer some questions.
We did that. And, this will always be my favorite part of the trip.
More later with “Going Back and Leaning Forward, Part II”.
So far, so good. I think I made a good impression.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
1/ “Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, and them Corporate Fellas”– August 2007.
2/ “Being Jeffersonian, Part I” – February 2007; and, of course so many other things I care about.
NOTE: Brian also has a business Blog that fascinates world leaders and decision-makers alike (but, few others). It can be viewed and relished at: http://www.hcroi.wordpress.com/