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Robert Granader

CEO of, Class of '89

What do you do for a living and what’s it like?

I am CEO of  Running your own company is great, there is nothing more satisfying to me than being able to work with people of your choosing in a direction you’ve designed.  But I want everyone who works with me and my company to feel that they run their own business inside ours. I tell them all the time that I can sleep well because it keeps them up at night.

How would you describe the value of an English degree in your career/life?

It was a turning point in my life.  I went from seeing the trees to the forest.  Some of the greatest joys I have are reading and writing, based on something that was sparked long ago when I became an English Major.  Sometimes the writing is creative, but often it’s a blog for work or something for our customers. With social media there are so many more opportunities to communicate with clients and colleagues through clear writing.

Who were some of your favorite professors/classes and why?

My course on the American Novel and a Robert Frost seminar.  Just the other day the movie The Outsiders was on television and in it they famously quote Robert Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay. And when it popped on the screen I took a picture and texted it to a friend who was in the Robert Frost seminar with me.  This was a class that forced us to memorize poems which we remember to this day.

What literature from your English classes shaped you?

American Novel, Canterbury tales.  At some point I became a book collector and I’ve tried to get first editions of everything from that American Novel syllabus.  A few years ago we lived in London and spent a lot of time on the south side of the Thames River where the Canterbury Tales allegedly began and I think of and use references to it all the time.

Do you have any advice for incoming English majors at Michigan?

Take English classes and learn how to write.  There is a little that will shape you more than the ability to craft a strong declarative sentence so for the rest of your life people will understand you and hear you.  Understanding the difference between your and you’re, a lot and alot will separate you from the rest of the world for your entire life.

What are some of your favorite memories from Michigan?

Angell Hall-there was always two parts to it, the new and the old.  I loved the old part, the way the doors creaked, the way the offices smelled, while the new side that faced the diag was bright and gleaming. I would read on a bench in the old part and imagine Arthur Miller walking across the lobby.