John McGrath

CEO of American Collegiate Acquisitions (ACA)

Category: Blog

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An Honest Motivational Speech for 2016 College Grads

Dr. John J. McGrath, Chief Executive Officer and President of TCI College, gave the following commencement speech to the Graduating Class of 2015 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.


Good afternoon everyone and congratulations to the TCI Class of 2015. It is an honor to stand before such a distinguished group of women and men who are about to receive their College Degree.

Today is your day! Today, you earn a college degree which is a testament to your intellectual acumen and spirit of determination. And, as you know better than anyone else, you earned it. No one — no one can ever take a college degree away from you.

You dreamed about this day, graduating from college — sometimes against all odds. You sacrificed and persevered to achieve your dreams. You did not give up!

Many of you juggled the competing demands of family, work and college. Some of you are parents, some of you are single parents, but despite all the obstacles, despite all the times it would have been just too easy to give up — you said no — and you overcame the obstacles placed in front of you. You earned this success today!

Some of you came to college as an “Ability to Benefit” student without a high school diploma — but you had the courage and fortitude to take and pass a tough federal test to get admitted to the college. And now, here you are — graduating.

I want to let you in on a fact to success and happiness. The real inspired leaders of this world are those who prepare themselves intellectually and never give up their dreams. A simple rule for a true leaders is: “If the front door is closed, go through the back door, if the back door is closed, go through the window. And, if necessary cut a hole in the roof.”

“If the front door is closed, go through the back door, if the back door is closed, go through the window. And, if necessary cut a hole in the roof.”

Courage, passion, determination, and creativity are the true hallmarks of champions! You — the graduates of TCI College — are champions. Faith in yourself, commitment to excellence, and vision.

Your family is here today because they love and respect you. For many students, your family provided the shoulders for you to lean on to get you to this point — Graduation at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Your parents respect you (will the parents please stand and be recognized), for those of you who are married, your husband and wife respects you (will the spouses please stand and be recognized), and for those of you who have children, they deeply respect and look up to you (will the children of the graduates please stand and be recognized). Now, everybody, let’s have a great round of applause for our champions — our TCI 2015 graduating class.

I would also like to recognize the distinguished faculty at TCI — they intellectually and professionally prepared you to be here today (will the faculty please stand and be recognized). The TCI administration and staff have also worked hard and have had real faith in you (will the administration and staff please stand and be recognized).

I would also like to thank the New York City Police Department Pipe Band. They are here every year at our graduation ceremony; “Up the Field.” And, for those playing in the beautiful string quartet during the ceremony, thank you.

My father always reminded me that: “Courage is Half the Battle.” He was right. Securing a college education was the right move! You academically prepared yourself for reaching your goals in a very competitive world. My dad shared with me something that I carry every day: “The person who knows ‘how’ most likely will have a job, but the person who also knows ‘why’ will most likely be the boss.”

“The person who knows ‘how’ most likely will have a job, but the person who also knows ‘why’ will most likely be the boss.”

You invested an important part of your life in earning a college education. The faculty challenged your mind to not only comprehend “How” to do something — but “Why!” College helps you with being able to think critically, write accurately, speak effectively — and college provides you with the foundation for intellectual inspiration to secure greater heights.

Take this great college education — combine it with your courage, determination, passion and creativity — and change the world. Because, “existentially”, you are free to achieve your dreams.

As I reflected about addressing the TCI graduating class of 2015, I chose the following quotes from philosophers, intellectuals, political leaders, civil rights leaders, and athletes because they have greatly inspired me throughout my life — and, I hope they inspire you as you go forward as TCI graduates in the world.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

  1. Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Men should look within themselves to get a true value of life. You must critically analyze the effects of your choices and actions in the process of becoming and determining your future.
  2. Aristotle: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
  3. Harriet Tubman: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
  4. John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death — and saddling up anyway.”
  5. Nelson Mandela: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” “There is no passion to be found in playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are living.” “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
  6. Malcolm X: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”
  7. Victor Hugo: “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”
  8. Albert Einstein: “A person that never made a mistake never tried anything new.” “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
  9. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Change does not role in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so, we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”
  10. Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I lost over 300 games. Over 26 times, I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” “I have never been afraid to fail.”
  11. Rocky: “Let me tell you something you already know. The world aint all sunshine and rainbows. It can be a mean and nasty place — and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it aint about how hard ya hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now if you know what you are worth, than go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you aint where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that aint you. You’re better than that.” “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts — it’s how many times you get back up.”
  12. Muhammad Ali: “I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.” “If you ever dream of beating me, you’d better wake up and apologize.”

If possible, I encourage the graduates to secure their Bachelor’s Degree and, if possible, go after postgraduate degrees. Again, no one can ever take a college degree away from you!

Please listen very carefully. I want you to lead an inspired purposeful life. At the end of the day, when you look back on your life, you will ask yourself: “What good did I do when I was here, what contribution did I make for this short time I was here on earth?”

“What good did I do when I was here, what contribution did I make for this short time I was here on earth?”

I want to suggest something very private to the graduates. I challenge you to reflect upon your own personal Mission Statement in life. Reflect on it deeply. Write it down. Place it in a hiding spot known only to you.

Where do you see yourself two, five, ten, twenty years from now? Then, go back to your Mission Statement at those intervals and truly examine your life. Compare your dreams with reality. How are you the same? How did you grow? How are you different? Did you meet your goals? Did you have the courage, determination and inner confidence to reach those goals? Or, how did new dreams replace existing dreams?

Reflect upon your life intellectually and spiritually. Don’t worry about critics; there are always plenty of those. Stay true to courage and passion as reach your dreams. I’d like to quote former President Theodore Roosevelt with respect to critics and real success in life.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcomings. But who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place will never be with those cold and timid souls that know neither victory nor defeat.”

“It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcomings.

Be honest with yourself. Stand tall with grace and integrity.

Remember that great intellectual genius, Rocky Balboa: “It’s not how many times you get Knocked Down in life — it’s how many times you get Back Up!” Stay strong and passionate. Always follow your heart. Trust yourself. Pursue your dreams with dignity. Never give up!

I will end with a most sincere Irish Blessing: “May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the rains fall softly on your fields. And, may God hold you forever in the palm of his hand.”

Congratulations. God Bless You.


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How to Identify Intrapreneurs Within Your Company

An intrapreneur is the manager or employee who recognizes problems as opportunities to advance and improve the company from the inside out. They function as leaders who challenge processes and invigorate ideas. Intrapreneurs often drive progress within a company’s infrastructure without direct guidance from management. With an entrepreneur’s spirit, an inventor’s capacity to solve complex problems, and a passion for adjusting operational systems, intrapreneurs are most likely working for you, but would you know how to identify them?

Intrapreneurs are indispensable investments for your organization. Identify them early and ensure they have the room and resources to thrive and help your company grow.

You can identify successful intrapreneurs in your company using these common traits:

Total commitment

Being a highly successful intrapreneur is a full-time responsibility. The intrapreneur’s mind is constantly working and challenging the status quo. They are architects of new ideas, new plans and better methods. The intrapreneur sees the world through the lens of the administrative and financial operations of the business and relates everyday decisions into growing and improving the company. They often listen and learn from entrepreneurs, typically the CEO and/or president, incorporating their knowledge to create plans for internal improvement.

Adaptability

Intrapreneurs function well in a start-up industry because of their ability to thrive in a changing environment. They are excellent at observing, reflecting, accepting, and then adapting. They often create solutions from a new starting point. They welcome growing pains. It’s often said that the squeaky wheel gets the grease; intrapreneurs are those who grease the wheels without always looking for praise.

Internally motivated

Though intrapreneurs appreciate the value and importance of return on investment, they generally are not solely driven by profit. They typically are motivated by how they can contribute to further the overall success of their company. Intrapreneurs typically initiate meaningful innovations within their departments before expecting or requesting a raise.

Confidence

One of the most, if not the most, important element in business is the possession of confidence. Self doubt weighs heavily on an individual’s confidence and ability to creatively perform, think and act — which progressively deteriorates corporate profitability. Having a high level of confidence is critically important. Confidence is a state of mind and a state of being. Positive thinking and engagement with like-minded people is central to the dynamic creation and execution of successful business plans which promotes attractive returns on investment.

The anchor

Intrapreneurs are generally even-tempered. When a company is in change, intrapreneurs keep a level head. Employees tend to follow an executive with a consistent and balanced temperament compared to an inconsistent or negative attitude. Effective management encourages creative minds to seek solutions during tough organizational challenges.

The straight shooter

Honesty and transparency are central to creating and maintaining a successful intrapreneurial corporate culture. Intrapreneurial chief executive officers should:

  • Create a culture of innovation and dynamic leadership.
  • Create a culture of integrity and compliance.
  • Advocate for a culture of shared vision and teamwork.
  • Advocate a core value system to have courage, determination and a contagious spirit to do what is right, regardless of the difficulties or consequences.

The mirror effect

The best way to ensure your company will attract the intrapreneurial spirit is to foster creativity in your company culture. Many entrepreneurs are (or were) intrapreneurs. Entrepreneurs often have the ability to identify mirror images of themselves and make room for advancing those employees to help the company succeed. The creation of intrapreneurial spirit could be exactly what it takes for your business to achieve the best possible results while fostering loyal, career-minded individuals that share your determination for success.

Closing note

Being able to recognize the intrapreneurs in your company will make you better equipped to cultivate a space for them, and your company, to thrive. Championing intrapreneurship inevitably encourages your company to challenge the status quo, which will lead to positive paradigm shifts within your organization — and a vibrant workforce.

This post was originally published on Entrepreneur.com

Intrapreneurs are innovators who build new systems within their company

Why Is Intrapreneurship So Popular?

The intrapreneur is a word that has been utilized often but this school of thought has been around since before someone coined the term “go-getter”. In 2015, intrapreneurs are a somewhat different breed than their go-getter predecessors. For one, they are not just young, ambitious employees; intrapreneurs are often mature executives challenging the status quo within a large company.

Self-propelled intrapreneurship has been encouraged by large financial conglomerates and tech companies including Google, Facebook and Barclays through mentorships, conferences and formal programs. Intrapreneurs push the limits and insert creative ideas into competitive organizations.

Many corporations from finance to law to advertising have become static and need new talent — which does not necessarily equate to young talent. Generation Xers and older corporate employees are challenging their millennial counterparts’ productive energy and contemporary resourcefulness.

At heart, the intrapreneur must an inventor. They see problems as ways to improve  infrastructure. They seek more efficient ways to enhance complicated systems. They put themselves in positions within their organizations to fix complex or disregarded structures.

Check out my Entrepreneur.com article about identifying successful intrapreneurs in your company.

Photo sources: Intrapreneur Building

Research contribution: A. Anderson

 

College Graduates Earn More In Their Lifetime

Value of Higher Education — Return on Investment

Former White House and congressional advisor Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution discovered that without a college degree, only 14 percent of Americans from the bottom fifth of parental income reach the top two-fifths. However, if they graduate college, 41 percent of the same demographic can expect to make it to the top two-fifths.

Aside from the overall higher sense of confidence and better outlook on their future college gives to college graduates, these economic figures should also be a huge factor for students pragmatically considering their future earnings and opportunities.

Unemployment Rate Lower for College Grads

According to Gary Burtless and Adam Looney of the Brookings Institution, workers with a college degree earn twice as much as workers whose highest level of education is a high school diploma, and show a lower unemployment rate than those who are non-grads. In 2010, the unemployment rate was 10 percent for those with only a high school degree, but 5.4 percent for college graduates.

Over a working life time, again according to Burtless and Looney, the differential between a college graduate’s earnings and those of a high school graduate is estimated to average $570,603 — more than half a million dollars. When viewed in investment terms, they found return on investment (ROI) for a bachelor’s degree over the last 50 years was 15.2 percent. The stock market has returned 6.8 percent, long-term Treasury bills have returned 2.2 percent, and housing has returned 0.4 percent.

Grads Make More

For students entering college, finishing and gaining a degree should be considered a savings account. Though there are short-term expenses for attending a college, the long-term investments will literally pay dividends.

Graphs:

Unemployment Rate By Level of Education

Higher Education Raises Earning Ratio

Research contribution

A. Anderson

Entrepreneurs & Intrapreneurs work together to build success

Entrepreneurs & Intrapreneurs

In the 1980’s, management consultant Gifford Pinchot coined the term “Intrapreneurs” in reference to employees who are given the opportunity to develop new products and ideas from within a company. If identified and fostered properly, intrapreneurs can play an invaluable role in keeping the company highly competitive.

Teamwork creates success in a business

Teamwork creates success for a thriving business

Especially useful for businesses that rely on innovation, intrapreneurs are the individuals behind the internal ideas being explored. They are generally more comfortable for exploration within the structure of an established institution.

Forbes contributor and Fishbowl founder David K. Williams identified several common traits of successful intrapreneurs, including an exhaustive interest in finding non-economic ways to prove their own value, an intrinsic and determined ability to grow ideas without fearing failure or change, and, most importantly, confidence, humility, and deep-seeded integrity. “Tomorrow’s world of work ecosystems will be driven by the increasing ranks of intrepreneurs [sic],” Williams concluded.

Intrapreneurs especially thrive in a fast-paced  environment. They typically are naturally observant, reflective and adaptive — they love finding creative solutions from multiple points within business constructs. The intrapreneur’s mind is always working. They are architects of new ideas, new plans and generally better at  executing strategic plans. They often work very well with an entrepreneur.

Many entrepreneurs are also intrapreneurs. They are not mutually exclusive talents within one individual. The best way for a company to succeed is to encourage both entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial spirit in its culture. Challenging the status quo often leads to positive paradigm shifts within the organization.

Be a successful entrepreneur

How to Build a Successful Business

A successful business creates solutions to difficult challenges. An  entrepreneur with business acumen and related experience intellectually and practically tackles obstacles and creates an open environment where innovations, employee talents and in-demand products address problems. Companies that are able to translate a creative idea into a realistic business plan to achieve profitability goals follow basic integral steps in order to build a successful business venture.

Start your successful business today

Start your successful business today

Concept

An idea does not alone make a successful business, an entrepreneur does. The origination of a concept can only turn into reality through the vision and leadership of a strong leader.

Reserving Capital

It would make sense for this step to be called “raising capital” but reserving capital is also extremely important in the long run to achieve the goals of a business construct.  An entrepreneur who has the acuity to reserve capital for possible unanticipated events will be in a better position than one who has simply raised capital only to lose it to unexpected circumstances.

Curation of Talent

Success cannot happen in a vacuum. In order for CEOs to achieve business goals, they should seek the inspired collaboration of talented professionals. The people you hire to help build the foundation of your concept is as important as the structural brick and mortar. Without the right talent, a business will  face challenges that should have been anticipated, thereby decreasing the full potential of the company.

Continuation

Many companies fall into complacency and stagnation. A successful business can often forget its creative inception when there becomes a steady revenue stream. However, revenue does not necessarily equal success. A successful business is built on the continuation of new innovative ideas and a constant stream of momentum, not simply the reliance on the continuation of current revenues and profitability.

Many companies have used these basic principles to achieve great long-term success.

Apple

This small business started in a California garage, became an empire, and continues to break new technological barriers. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak originated the business on the popularity and mystique of microchip technology and need for a more robust data systems. Inspired by new microcomputers, though unable to afford the computer CPUs that were available at the time, Wozniak created his own microprocessor to fabricate a computer system.

Wozniak brought  his completed project to the Homebrew Computer Club to exhibit his machine to the delight of his old friend Steve Jobs who was in attendance and became extremely interested in commercializing Wozniak’s design.

Utilizing creative methods, from borrowing money and space from friends and family to selling various prized items, Steve Jobs secured technological parts while Steve Wozniak and mutual friend Ronald Wayne  assembled the new Apple I. The early computer system featured existing components and new ideas, such as the incorporation of a television as the display system. The computer’s text was displayed at 60 characters per second, which was faster than other systems of that era. Initially, 200 Apple I’s were constructed.

Today, Apple’s annual revenue exceeds $185 billion dollars.

Netflix

In 1997, Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph co-founded Netflix to offer online and DVD movie rentals, with a no late fee policy. This policy attracted an increasing number of customers who had been previously paying video giants like Blockbuster exorbitant late fees. By 2002, Netflix became a publicly traded company on Nasdaq (NFLX) with 600,000 member in the U.S. By 2005, membership rose to 4.2 million. In late 2008, Netflix partnered with Starz Entertainment (one of the largest cable and satellite television conglomerates under Starz Inc) to offer over 2,500 new films and television shows to “Watch Instantly” as part of the Starz Play service. Two years later, Netflix signed a five-year deal worth nearly $1 billion to stream films from Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The business arrangement drastically increased Netflix’s spending capital for streaming films annually, adding approximately $200 million per year.

Today, Netflix has become less online streaming service, and more television channel. Producing award winning original productions, Netflix has gone global and now has over 50 million members worldwide.

Ben & Jerry’s

This dream team started through an ice cream-making correspondence course that co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield completed through Penn State University’s Creamery in 1977.

Cohen, who lacks a sense of smell or taste, relied solely on texture to provide variety in his diet, which led to the company’s trademark chunks being mixed in with their ice cream. In 1978, with a $12,000 investment, the two business partners opened an ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in downtown Burlington, Vermont.

By 1988, the two men won the title of U.S. Small Business Persons Of The Year, awarded by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Also that year, the first brownies were ordered from Greyston Bakery, which led to the development of the popular Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor. In 1992, Ben & Jerry’s joined in a cooperative campaign with the national non-profit Children’s Defense Fund; the campaign goal was to bring children’s basic needs to the top of the national agenda.

In 1989, Ben & Jerry’s publicly opposed the use of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) in all their products – which many competitors had yet to do at the time. This made their brand synonymous with environmental and health awareness, which attracted more customers.

In April 2000, Cohen and Greenfield sold their company to multinational food giant Unilever which vows to continue growing the company. The company that went from correspondence course to environmentally conscious enterprise, currently generates an annual revenue of over $180 million.

 Research contribution: A. Anderson

Entrepreneur in the Digital Age

The Entrepreneur in the Digital Age

Digital advances are meant to increase productivity and efficiency.

But do they? Yes and no.

Indeed, the ‘office’ has expanded outside the brick and mortar environment so prevalent just a decade ago. Tech savvy entrepreneurs are mobile, no longer confined to any one workspace. Business travelers can receive most (if not all) publications online, including major news sources, accessible through laptops, smartphones and tablets. CEOs and Presidents can stay current — all the time, constantly, and quickly.

Digital has become so essential that $1.36 trillion will be added to the top ten economies by 2020.

GDP digital uplift by year 2020

GDP digital uplift by year 2020

However, there comes inadvertent drawbacks from too much technology, which may encumber certain aspects of work, and life.  A study by PLoS One revealed that too much web interaction can increase unhappiness, and that face-to-face time with people improves mood, trust and communication. Unfortunately, that news may present major complications. An entrepreneur can never be “offline”, there is no such option.  ‘Connection’ is omnipresent, but can wireless connection actually connect a business head to his or her employees?

In order to do so, successful entrepreneurs have to play a pivotal role in keeping passion and inspiration in the workplace where it belongs. By creating changes in daily operations, leaders will increase authentic (non-Cloud-based) manager/employee connectivity.

Decoupling Productivity & Employment Chart

Decoupling Productivity & Employment Chart

According to a New York Times article on Decoupling Productivity and Employment, “[…] we can improve their [employees’] prospects greatly by investing in infrastructure, reforming education at all levels and encouraging entrepreneurs to invent the new products, services and industries that will create jobs.”

So how does an entrepreneur or intrapreneur accomplish this?

Talent Cultivation. Leadership should offer educational initiatives within the company to inspire employees and keep them engaged in the mission statement of the organization. When a leader invests in the well-being of his or her workers inside and outside working hours, this investment can act as a vehicle for the maintenance of transparent communication.

CEO in the Middle. Transparency should be another name for trust, but oftentimes, it is not. A CEO who looks at employees from a management level can exert transparency but trust is critically important. Intrapreneurs who are the most successful at obtaining trust are ones who are in the trenches alongside their workers. Those who roll up their sleeves and work through the middle have the most success than those who work from atop.

The framework of the work culture has changed drastically in just two decades, mostly for good, but the checks and balances of the increased efficiency must be monitored and tempered regularly by senior level executives. Shifts which encourage more face-to-face interaction can change the work dynamic in positive directions.

Research contribution: A. Anderson

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