Making Your Mark...at Berkeley!

I had the opportunity to present recently to the students at Berkeley Preparatory School - my alma mater - in Tampa!  We discussed the opportunity to make your mark - at school, at home, in the community and in many other parts of the world after graduation.  Here are a few of my notes. How are you making your mark?

At BPS?  With your teachers?  With your classmates, friends?  How about outside of BPS?  In the community?  At your church or synagogue?  With your family? 

In the future, when you look back at your time here at Berkeley...and for the parents and faculty here today, if we were to conduct a review of your life to date, what mark have you left on students...sons, daughters...friends and colleagues...

Berkeley to me is all about people making their mark in the world. Leaving a lasting legacy - in a way that positively impacts others.

This topic is relevant to me as Berkeley certainly made its mark on me and my life.

My life and many of the steps along the path from 1991 to 2010 have been influenced by my experience at Berkeley.  Seeds planted 19 years ago.

One hot, early Summer day, my parents called my sister and I together for a family meeting.  We were living in Tallahassee, Florida at the time, and we both were attending Maclay School.  It was the end of my Sophomore year of high school...I had just run for a student government position, I played basketball, started swimming, etc.  Their news at the time was devastating - we were going to have to move because my dad's job was changing and he was going to be taking on a new role in Tampa.

The headmaster at Maclay (Mr. Jablon) was friends with Mr. Merluzzi and gave him a call to let him know that we were applying for admission and suggested we meet, etc.  It was interesting to consider because what was one of the most negative moments in our lives, turned out to be one of the best moments in the lives of our family.  The situation and circumstance certainly made their mark on my life...but people like Mr. Jablon at Maclay and Mr. Merluzzi at Berkeley made their mark on our family through this transition.

We moved to Tampa after my sophomore year of high school - well established in my friend group in Tallahassee, Florida, I was an Eagle Scout, we were engrained in our church, I took piano lessons and sang in a jazz ensemble. Involved in sports teams, clubs, always had a friend to do things with after school.  You name it!

I can honestly remember just about each day of the two years I was at Berkeley because they were so impactful on my life.  I had two years at Berkeley and consider it the most impactful two years of my life.  Berkeley made its mark.  I played basketball...but never started...I swam but was never the fastest...I played golf but was never in the top 3-4 players.  We did have a stock market game for one of our classes...and I did win that game!

I was the "new guy" in an environment that can be difficult to delve into in such a tight-knit environment.  AND, I lived 30 minutes from Berkeley in Tampa Palms - none of my new friends were anywhere close.  And no, I will never be inducted into the Berkeley Athletic Hall of Fame!

I learned many things at Berkeley but one key message that continues with me to this day...is that living life to serve myself, internally focused, is only rewarding in the short term.  Living to make a mark on a child, a group, a community, a school, a company, a nation or even more is worth MY life and time.

Berkeley to me is all about people making their mark in the world. Leaving a lasting legacy - in a way that positively impacts others.

Several other examples of influence at Berkeley: 

College Decision Berkeley had a guidance counselor at the time who I still only remember as Mr. Kennedy.  As we were looking at colleges, the application process, etc., I will never forget him suggesting that we apply to 1-2 "reach schools" given my strength in math and science.  I got into Georgia Tech and the cascade of dominoes began to fall.  The bottom line is that I would have never gone to Georgia Tech if not for Mr. Kennedy's coaching, advice and guidance.  I would never have had a number of life experiences following Georgia Tech if not for the coaching to apply to and attend GT.

People Berkeley was a living sea of diversity - unlike anything I had ever experienced prior to my stepping foot on campus.  I loved the diversity of people - thoughts, ideas, backgrounds, families - at Berkeley.  When I arrived, my sister was four years younger so she was in 7th grade.  Our new friends spanned diverse backgrounds, religions and interests.  I met several guys that lived VERY close to Berkeley and our senior year, we would escape for the hour, water ski, and get back in time for class.  I met numerous classmates with whom I stay in touch today.  I reach out to many of them when I am traveling and enjoy reconnecting.  Reunions.  These relationships will last a lifetime and perhaps, leave a legacy that we may or may not recognize until later in life.  They left their mark on me and I would like to think I did the same.

Community / Giving Back One of the lasting memories of my Berkeley experience was volunteering at the Museum of Science and Industry - the Science of Sports exhibit.  This experience was another that made its mark in my life as I discovered how rewarding it was to give back. To do more, give more and be more.

Ladership / Alumni Engagement One thing I thought Berkeley did a great job with was encouraging new thoughts, ideas and experiences for the student body.  The school also does an excellent job of engaging alumni.

I live in Atlanta and we have regular Berkeley alumni events - I will never forget when I started at Georgia Tech, I went to a Berkeley event at an alum's house - nice to meet more people - to make connections in a new city!

Berkeley continues to make its mark on its alumni; and its alumni are enabled to do more, give more and be more with the support of Berkeley through tools, technology and communication techniques!

Leaders never know the nature of the mark they are making until long after they have left; they don't recognize the legacy until much later in life. 

What are you doing to make your mark?!

Key takeaways - B.R.A.N.D.: 1) Believe in Yourself - Persistence Pays Off 2) Reset - Identify How to Use Outcomes as Input for Positive Change 3) Attitude - Positive Attitude Changes Everything 4) Network - Recognize It's Value 5) Deliver Results - Walk the Walk