Little Rock/Memphis

11:42 PM

I am back in Memphis. It was another busy day, starting with packing all of my gear. After all of these miles and experiences, you’d think I would’ve gotten it down to a science, but packing with the “just in case” philosophy makes things cumbersome. I loaded everything up, said goodbye to Gary’s place and headed toward my alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. We call it UALR.

Driving around campus and parking in my fraternity house lot always sends me down memory lane. So many great friends and images. It also makes me think of how I’ve changed. I used to be shy and afraid to do new things. Not any more.

I parked and lugged my computer and briefcase down the familiar path to campus. Before setting up for my talk I was able to sit down with my writing professor mentor, Chuck. He and I worked together often when I was a student and it is always great to see him. He told me about a book I need to check out, Emergence. We spent our hour going back on various topics including his nephew who is a pitcher for the Astros. He also said I should interview an Astros player who has the passion, Hunter Pence. Maybe down the road our paths will cross.

My talk was taking place during a lunch on networking and the theme was “Stepping Out of the Box.” They thought my journey was definitely out of the box and wanted me to share what networking has done for me. This entire three year journey has been a lesson in networking. From my website being passed on and on, to the interviewees, to the media people, and now to the book and speaking industries, it’s all about connections. And I cherish all of them. As I say in my talks, if you would have told me 3 and a half years ago I’d have written a book and I give talks to strangers about motivated people (me included), I would have laughed you out of the room. But there I was, staring at a room of 50 people, microphone and laser pointer in hand.

I was particularly excited about this group, the McNair Scholars Program. They are a group of 22 students who are first generation students, meaning they are the first person in their family to go to college. And as I type this, I think they were all minorities. I don’t really like that word, it sounds negative. The fact is they were not white.

My excitement to share with them is because they have already proven to be motivated. They were sitting in that room because they were chosen. And at that age in life, they were more successful than me. I was not the first person in my family to go to college. It was expected of me. My undergrad was paid for by my family. I took it for granted. These students had it much different. I said in an earlier entry they were trail blazers. No doubt. And diverse. Not diverse in the HR way, but in their interests and aspirations. I met people who wanted to start a non profit, to go into African studies, to become a school superintendent, and on and on. The different major of each student was impressive.

But what I learned today is that it doesn’t matter who your parents are, what you look like, and what your financial background is, if you want something, you can go get it. The road may be harder for some, but if you have the talent and the motivation, you can make it happen.

As I gave my talk, I felt it getting more rah rah than usual. I guess I could feel their motivation, passion, and accomplishment. It was a talk I truly enjoyed giving. And I think the students and mentors enjoyed it as well.

After the talk I made the familiar I-40 drive to Memphis. I was tired from the week, but there was no time to show it. As soon as I pulled into my brother’s place and got out of the car, my 5 and 3 year old nieces were hugging me and begging me to play with them.

These talks keep getting better and better. And so does my own journey. There is a lot more to come. But for now, it’s bed time and then repacking so I can head back to NY.