Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why Did I Enroll In Grad School At Concordia?

Many have asked me why I decided to go back to school for my MBA.  Others have asked why Concordia University.  I've decided to copy and paste my admissions essay that I had to write when I applied.  I tried to be transparent, real and lay it on the line to answer both of those questions.

The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive
I spent the greater part of 2009 walking with and supporting my father in his brave journey with cancer.  He passed away in December 2009 as I held his hand.  There’s something very profound about that experience that causes one to reevaluate everything in their life.   For me, it centered around a quote from Saint Irenaeus, “The glory of God is man fully alive” and demanded the question, “What makes me fully alive?” 
I have lived in Austin for 21 years having moved after college graduation to work for IBM. In 1998, shortly after transferring to Dell, my wife and I discussed ways that we could vocationally work together.  After much prayer and brainstorming of ideas, we launched Texas Seniors’ Guides, Inc. in 1999.  Texas Seniors’ Guides connect seniors, their adult children or caregivers with local services, events and resources using print and online media.  Eleven years later, we are providing a web portal of relevant resources and information while publishing Seniors’ Guides in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio with sales in Fort Worth to begin in January 2011.
The culmination of the journey of escorting my father to his eternity with God and returning to our blessedly thriving business made me consider, “Am I fully alive?”  Alive, yes. But fully?
The quest to understand what makes me “fully alive” is what has led me to this application for the Concordia MBA program.   I have come to the conclusion that to fully engage in intentional purposeful activities that make me fully alive, I would need to do a few things to get my personal house in order.    I approached this from three different but dependent perspectives:
  • Business Owner
  • Husband
  • Christian
Being a business owner means that I need to make sure that my business and employees are well positioned for lasting success in the industry and the communities it serves.  Jimmy Collins, President and Chief Operating Officer with Chick-fil-A, said, “Build the business.  Guard the brand.  Take care of your people.  What counts in this business is not how much money we make or how much chicken we sell.  What counts is the difference we make in the lives of others.” (Eat Mor Chikin, Inspire More People, S. Truett Cathy, p.168).  Long-term success requires further education to acquire the tools and knowledge to position our business to be impactful and adaptive to the inevitable marketing, technological and demographic changes. 
Being a husband means that I need to make sure that I am always protecting our family – physically, financially, and spiritually.  From a financial perspective, that requires me to maintain competitive employability as a mitigation of risk to our current business plans.  The Concordia MBA program will give me that competitive edge.
Being a Christian, for me to be “fully alive”, means that I want to be able to help/mentor other business owners to develop into state, national and global leaders in their industries.  The Concordia MBA program will help provide the foundation needed to invest time and energy into others.  The beauty of mentoring relationships is that the personal growth is experienced by both the mentor and the mentee as long as the mentor remembers to “Be impressed and interested, not impressive and interesting.”  (Becoming A Person of Influence, John C. Maxwell & Jim Dornan, p. 81)
I’ve attended an informational session and sat in on one of the marketing classes to observe the cohort learning environment.  From these two events and reviewing the MBA Program outcomes, the Concordia MBA program traits that I’ve identified and that resonate with me are:
  • Entrepreneurial Atmosphere
From the moment I attended the first informational session, I could feel the excitement and entrepreneurial spirit around the room.  From the staff to the current students that spoke in the session, the class size, the curriculum, and the prospective students, there was a sense of excitement and a free flow of ideas that can only encourage out-of-the-box entrepreneurial creative thinking.
  • Evolving Program
One of the most exciting aspects of the Concordia MBA program is that it is new.  As explained in the information session, rather than building on standard educational curricula and programs already in place at other educational institutions, the program was designed from the ground up.  It has attempted to maximize what’s worked best at other schools and minimize or eliminate what has not worked well.
  • Peer Collaboration (Cohort)
The most intriguing aspect of the Concordia MBA program is the MBA cohort design.  To commit to this journey with 15-19 of my peers will be exciting and rewarding.  I look forward to forging new friendships that are sure to last a lifetime.  Most of all, I look forward to being challenged by my peers and reciprocating, so that we will all become exceptional impactful leaders in the business community.

After 17 years of working in various positions for other corporations and 11 years of owning my own company,  I’ve come to the conclusion that I still have so much to learn.  Sometimes, the best knowledge is knowing what you don’t know.  The Concordia MBA program is one of a multitude of MBA programs offered and accessible in the Austin area, but it is the perfect fit for me.  I believe it will equip me with some of the best experience and knowledge needed to fill those gaps.  I anticipate that this new chapter in my life will demonstrate that a man (or woman) who is fully alive, truly brings glory to God!

1 comment:

  1. What a great essay! Also a good idea. I am happy you are part of the MBA community. I do believe this to be a wonderful and prosperous program. Good luck to you John!