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What are you doing today in your career?
Four years ago my career took me to Houston, Texas with Ford Motor Company. I am the Regional Sales Manager servicing our 110 Ford Dealer partners that blanket half of the Lone Star State. I work with a diverse group of talented Ford employees that hopefully I can guide and inspire to become future leaders for the company that put the world on wheels. My role is filled with opportunity not only from a competitive standpoint, but through relationships, a sense of community, growing the business and developing my people while combing through endless e-mails and balancing everything with my passions including my family, friends and Michigan athletics (with a priority on attending football games in Ann Arbor).
What inspires you?
I have been fortunate to have met a lot of people that I have great respect for and that have been willing to share a piece of their wisdom with me including iconic but humble superstars Gordie Howe and Ernie Harwell. I was driving Ernie back to his hotel after a Tiger game in Seattle nearly 30 years ago when he told me that he loved his wife Lulu more on that day than he did on his wedding day roughly 50 years prior. That comment was not lost on me. Gordie explained how he tried to mentor some of the up and coming NHL players on the importance of always giving an autograph that is legible and not just a nondescript scribble. Gordie always took the time to meet with people and felt honored that fans would wait so long just to say hello to him and walk away with his autograph. Bob Ufer was a key inspiration connecting me to Michigan when I was young and he delivered the single most inspiring speech I have ever heard at the Michigan pep rally prior to the 1981 Rose Bowl game – Bo’s first Bowl victory. In my current role working with Ford Dealers I have met a number of people who inspire me. Most of the store owners I know have experienced financial success, but the ones who really inspire me the most are those who give back to the community, particularly when they give their time. We have a number of programs at Ford that reward high school kids with scholarship money for their efforts with FFA or football and the key with these kids isn’t based solely on their achievement from showing cattle or their ability to score 6 touchdowns in a game, but that they also have solid grades and a sense of community service. Those kids and their parents inspire me. James Earl Jones and the pre-game pump up video at Michigan football games is yet another example one of the many things that provide me inspiration! Excellence is inspiring, be it people I have received advice from or incredible fall colors that light up Ann Arbor in October.
What impact has your Psychology degree at UM had on your career or life?
My experiences make up the building blocks and the strength of the structure is only as good as my memories. Studying at Michigan and my experiences in Ann Arbor are woven into the very fabric of who I am and I lean on my Michigan experiences all the time. I worked 6 years at two very popular radio stations and had the opportunity to work with some very strong but fragile radio personalities. At times I felt like Lucy and her Psychiatric booth giving my advice, massaging some massive egos and sprinkling in a healthy helping of reality. In my current career, I believe it’s important to create an environment that demands excellence from every member of my team and that those that work hard have earned the right to also play hard. I am a big believer in brand and that we all need to nurture and protect our personal brands. The Houston Region that I oversee is also a brand that I am proud of and by drawing on my learnings and experiences from my years in Ann Arbor it helps define who I am and how my personal brand is built and maintained. The people that know me identify me with the color blue – Ford blue and Michigan blue. The lessons learned early in my freshman year still stick with me today in that you can have one situation to look at and it can be interpreted in different ways. Respecting differing viewpoints can be a benefit.
What do you remember most about your time at UM?
Overall, the 4 years seemed so challenging and demanded so much effort for what seemed like an eternity and yet in reality it turned out to be the blink of an eye. The 1980 football team and going on the official Rose Bowl tour as a student to see Bo get his first Bowl win was a tremendous memory. Hours in the UGLY, walks in the Arb, studying outside when spring arrived. I remember dining at Drakes, Bicycle Jims when my parents came to visit, and the Falafel Palace in between classes. I remember childhood development really captured my interest, a memory course (I forgot what it was called exactly), and that Anthony Carter was listed as being in my Intro to Psych class our freshman year and that only one of us ended up making over $1M a year at some point in our career. I remember the fun we had playing intramural softball and the IM building (hooray for the remodel), I remember sliding on the icy sidewalk after a winter storm forced the school to close one day. I recall mastering Stargate, Galaga and Pac-Man. I remember falling asleep with my face in a book and having to reread a few pages when I would awaken. I remember dressing up in a maize sweat suit at all the home basketball games proudly commemorating our 1981 Rose Bowl victory for Mike McGee, Gary Grant, Eric Turner, Tim McCormick and Roy Tarpley led basketball teams (and rooting against Isiah Thomas and Charles Barkley when they came to town). I remember the fall colors, the cider being sold in the street on the way to the game, the band practicing at Elbel field, the excitement of game day as a student as well as the advent of ESPN and MTV. I think Springsteen came through town about 3 times, Peter Gabriel at Hill and I will always remember and never forget Howard Cosell announcing to the world on Monday Night Football that John Lennon had been shot.
What advice would you give to aspiring Psychology students?
Focus on what interests you and develop your passion. Take advantage of the office hours that your professors offer and find out what you can do to amplify your experience. Enjoy the brief ride both through the choppy waters and when things are going well while in school recognizing that you should never get too high or too low. I think that a psychology degree is a study in life with an opportunity to specialize in whatever aspect interests you most. It seems cliché to say it, but follow your dreams. The opportunities afforded psychology students are as varied as your imagination allows. I strongly recommend hugging and thanking your parents or those who advise you as often as possible for so many reasons. Get involved in areas that excite you, build on your personal brand every day and always, Go Blue!