The Cost of Freedom...The Challenges of Becoming an Entrepreneur

Speaker Name: Roger Beahm
Speaker Title: CEO & President
Speaker Company: Coyne Beahm Inc.
Coyne Beahm Inc. Website

Roger BeahmThank you Chancellor Borkowsi, Dean Peacock, Mr. Boyles, Treasurer Moore, Vice-President Sun, honored guests, and especially students from Fudan University and from the Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University.

Before I share with you my thoughts on a subject that I have been living the past 14 years, "The Cost of Freedom...The Challenge of Being an Entrepreneur," I first want to sincerely express my appreciation for this very humbling opportunity to speak to you today. It is truly an honor.

When Dean Peacock and Dr. John Thomas came to my office in Greensboro last fall and asked me if I would be willing to do this, I actually thought they must have mistaken me for someone else. But I knew that, both being academics, they surely are smart enough to recognize that I’m not related to Jim Beam ... that’s the only "Beam&quot most people have ever heard of. And when my grandparents got off the boat at Ellis Island in 1900, they didn’t even adopt that spelling.

As we talked, I realized they were serious; yet so was I. As I read through the list of your past distinguished CEO lecturers, I knew all the more what a distinct privilege this is to be here today. Mr. Boyles, congratulations on such an outstanding program.

It was Will Rogers who said, "Nothing in the world exposes how little you have to say, as making a speech." I knew it would be difficult to prove him wrong.

Perhaps part of the decision to have me speak might have been because my education was obtained at a university not unlike this, surrounded by beautiful mountains and a love for the out-of-doors. Those of you who have been there know the University of Colorado at Boulder is not unlike your university, except maybe our mountains are a little higher, and our air is a little thinner. I guess that’s why Appalachian students are a little smarter than those of us from out west; you get more oxygen at this altitude.

It’s actually true that as I walk around your campus I feel at home. But it’s more than the mountains. It’s the friendliness of the students; it’s the graciousness of the faculty and staff; it’s the lack of pretentiousness of your university. Perhaps that’s why my youngest son, who will be a senior in high school next year, was here this past Thursday for a campus visit. Nothing would please me more than to see him wind up here at Appalachian State University in a little over a year from now.

To begin my topic, I’d like to ask each of you a question and I’d like to see a show of hands. How many of you are dreaming of someday starting or owning your own company? If you’ve already done it, put your hand up too. I think every one of us who has ever gone to business school has either dreamed about it, thought seriously about it, or perhaps some of you have even done it already. The idea has a unique appeal to all of us here in America. And, as I get to know my business friends in Asia better, I realize it’s not just an American dream.

Starting your own company ... owning your own business ... has such a unique appeal. There’s nothing quite like it in all of professional life. There is, of course, the interest and desire to make a lot of money when you own your own company. But you can also lose a lot. Money is obviously not the sole reason people start their own companies. In fact, the Harvard Business Review says it’s not even a major one.

Statistics show that a significant number of people do it because they want the freedom to be their own boss, to not have to worry about being transferred, demoted, or terminated. The ultimate in job security is not having someone over you in the organization that can call you into his or her office and fire you. No wonder so many people want to do their own thing these days rather than do someone else’s thing.

This feeling of freedom you get from starting your own company, and being your own boss, is almost euphoric. But before you file your articles of incorporation with our North Carolina Secretary of State, let me share four challenges with you that I believe you will face and need to understand. That way, as Lord Baden-Powell first charged his boy scouts in England nearly 100 years ago, you too will "be prepared."

Perhaps having the "heads up" will help you as you plot your course for that 30-year or more career in front of you. They are "blazes" on the trail, gates through which you will pass or, for most of us, challenges to be overcome as we strive for the freedom that comes from starting our own company, from being an entrepreneur. You will have to count the cost of facing and ultimately overcoming the challenges, if you truly want that kind of freedom.

To add perspective to these challenges, let me tell a little about my own entrepreneurial journey. Coyne Beahm Marketing and Advertising was founded 14 years ago by three of us-- Bill and Patrick Coyne, a father-son design and graphic arts team who have an exceptional gift and talent for quality design, and yours truly, who cannot draw anything resembling a straight line.

I spent the first 14 years of my career in marketing with Fortune 500 companies before making a decision to go into the service side of marketing and advertising. In 1986, I started my own marketing consulting practice, working with consumer packaged goods companies. Two years later, Bill, Patrick and I formed Coyne Beahm Marketing and Advertising in order to build a business that would have greater potential and opportunity than an individual practice could achieve.

The three of us had gotten to know each other in Greensboro when I was still on the corporate side, and we found that we had a lot in common. We all have fairly large families, very traditionally valued, and we share a strong personal faith as Christian believers. This created a unique bond and trust that went well beyond a normal business relationship.

We also recognized that each of us brought something complementary to the party. Bill and Pat each had unique creative abilities and talent, and with my background we could add marketing consulting, account supervision, and overall business management. There wasn’t a lot of overlap or duplication in each of our talents, so we could maximize the synergy of the relationship, basically creating something greater than the sum of the parts.

I believe this is important in a start-up situation, when you can’t afford duplication of effort or talents. Later on, over time, you need that duplication so you can take on more and more clients ... but not initially.

Our business evolved in those early years, growing from a small creative design and marketing consulting shop to a promotion agency responsible for developing various consumer promotions and retail materials for companies like Wrangler and Planters/Lifesavers. As we grew more experienced, we ultimately began to take on national advertising projects for businesses like the Fox News Channel in New York and the Phonics Game in Costa Mesa, California. All the while we were adding people, upgrading equipment, expanding space, and pushing clients for broader creative responsibility.

Within seven years we become the agency of record on several nationally advertised businesses, including two different brands for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company ... Winston Select and Doral. We had reached a major milestone in the business. By being accepted into the American Association of Advertising Agencies, we had achieved legitimacy in the advertising world.

I give you that background because it may add some perspective for the four major challenges that I want to share with you. While your own specific circumstances will be different from mine, I also believe every entrepreneur faces these four challenges in some form or another, especially if you want to enjoy the freedom that being an entrepreneur can bring with it.

The First Challenge

The very first challenge I want you to consider is having the dream in the first place ... the dream of starting and owning your own business...visualizing potentially limitless opportunity, totally believing, with no doubts, that this dream is real, that you will succeed in your endeavors.

This dream, this vision, this desire for ultimate freedom in business, if you will, is conceived in wide-open spaces, as the Dixie Chicks would say, and incubated in the confinement of corporate cubicles and offices. It’s ultimately born when a person either musters the guts, or has no other options. And frankly it doesn’t matter which. As Janis Joplin once wailed to my generation, "Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose!"

While I believe every potential entrepreneur has his or her "wide open spaces" upon which they gaze and dream, my own were on the open expanse of western Kansas and eastern Colorado as I was growing up. Anyone who has stood alone out there on the high plains and looked to the horizon in every direction, knows what I’m talking about. There are almost no trees, just miles of open fields and rolling prairie gently sloping upwards to the west where everyone knows what lies 180 miles distant ... the Rocky Mountains. It’s a place where a young boy or girl learns to breathe. That’s where I first caught the dream.

I’m sure most of you in this room, at one time or another, have had this feeling. You stand on top of a ridge on the Appalachian Trail and look east or west. It’s breathtaking and panoramic. You love the feeling and wish it would last. Catch it. Bottle it up. Take it home.

Once you’ve breathed in the magic it doesn’t leave you. Sure, you can suppress it. You can postpone it with distraction, quash it with rationalization. Or you can let it push you, motivate you... just waiting for the day when you will experience the full rush again. That’s why many of us hike and climb. Because when you reach that wide open space, there’s no other feeling quite like it in the world.

It’s this magnificent obsession of being free, of being in the "wide open nothing," that I believe is one of the greatest motivators to becoming an entrepreneur ... knowing no limit to what you can do ... except your own limitations. And the struggle to go where your mind can take you ... as fast as you can possibly get there, is part of what this is all about. As Jansport says so eloquently in its advertising ... "get out and stay out!"

Our friends and colleagues in corporate America, or in corporate wherever, frustrated with the constraints of the organization or circumstance, know of what we speak. They might have reached a comfort level with where they are and what they are doing and how much they are making. And that’s great; more power to them. I believe the feeling is inside every person ... this desire to be totally free. It’s why we were created. It’s key in being motivated to become an entrepreneur, to start your own company, to do your own thing!

If that’s where it is conceived, let me describe the incubation. When I was a kid we used to have a lot of sparrows in eastern Colorado. These birds were used to flying in the prairies and open fields outside of town. Occasionally, you’d find an injured one lying on the ground. Maybe it had a damaged wing because it had flown into a nearby plate glass window. You’d put it in a shoe box and take it home. You wanted to keep it.

But you quickly learned that, in captivity, the sparrow did not last long. It wouldn’t eat, it would go into shock, and then the end came. I remember asking my dad why these birds would always die so quickly. "Because," he said, "they know what it’s like to be free. And once they lose that freedom, they lose the will to live." Potential entrepreneurs are very much like that, you see. Bottle them up in a cubicle and they’re miserable. Constrain them with hierarchy and they become claustrophobic. They need to breathe. They need wide open spaces. Don’t fence me in.

Once I left graduate school and began to grow professionally in the corporation, I noticed something quite strange happening. The higher I got in the organization, the more claustrophobic it became. Strange. You’d think that as the crowd around you starts to thin out, it would become easier to breathe. Like reaching the top of a ridge when you’re backpacking.

A lot of things in life are counter-intuitive. And this was a big lesson for me. You see, when you’re in the smallest cube, on the remotest floor, of the tiniest branch, at the most distant office, you’re smothered in one way, but you can still breathe in another. The higher you go in the organization, however, the more visible you become. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. The higher you rise in management, the more constraints are going to be placed on you. The entrepreneurial egg is incubating. It’s only a question of how long until it hatches!

So can you feel it? Is it there inside ...the dream to get free, be free, remain free? If it is, you have passed the first challenge gate already, and are ready to face the three remaining ones. If it’s not there and you want it, there’s a trailhead not far from this very spot. What are you waiting for?

The Second Challenge

Once you have found the dream in your heart, the second great challenge is one that was actually first articulated by Sir Isaac Newton in 1665. He may not have gone to business school, but he had it right with his law of inertia and starting your own company. He said in that first law of motion that "a body at rest tends to stay at rest."

This is especially true when you dream of becoming an entrepreneur, but are stuck inside a corporation or someone else’s business. It’s a lot easier to stay inside the security of that corporate womb than to face the cold, cruel world of starting your own company.

While working for someone else, your salary is covered, you get benefits, an office space and a telephone, and access to a copier. You may even have a car allowance, bonus program, and stock options. Add to that the security of a job you know how to do and it’s probably going to take a tremendous amount of force from somewhere to get you to move.

This sets up my second challenge ... what I call the "challenge of the high board." Do you remember when you were a little kid and it was summer and you went to the swimming pool with your friends? There at the deep end were two diving boards, a low board and a high board. When you could finally swim well enough to go into that part of the pool and go off those boards, that low board was no sweat. You just climbed up and ran off head first. Nothing to it.

But the high board was something different. You cautiously walked to the edge of the board, looked down, and thought to yourself, do I really have to do this? Is this really something I can do? What if it hurts? Will I end up doing a bellybuster? What will my friends think if I blow it? What if my swimming suit comes off?

Those feelings of fear and doubt come rushing back to you from your childhood as you stand at the edge, facing the challenge of stepping off the "high board" and starting your own business ... becoming an entrepreneur.

We’ve all heard the statistic--over half of all new businesses fail. A soldier faced better odds in the jungles of Vietnam than an entrepreneur in the boardroom of a start-up business. The odds are stacked against you. Perhaps you’d be better off if you kept your day job and played the lottery or, in today’s environment, the stock market.

At some point inside the heart of every true entrepreneur, the irresistible force finally overcomes the immoveable object, and you go for it. You take the leap of faith. You step out.

For me, the irresistible force grew stronger and stronger each day as I drove to work. It was an ache deep inside, telling me to jump, to go for it. The year was 1985. I was 36 years old.

According to The Business Forum, 80 percent of all new business formation is among people aged 25-44, so I was close to the heart of the demographic. The irresistible force finally became so powerful that I had no choice. I had to go to the edge of the board and step off. For some of you here today, maybe for many of you, it will be the same feeling and that part will happen the same way.

If you saw the movie "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" you recall the scene where, after having made it past two hurdles, Harrison Ford is facing a great chasm between himself and the crusader who is guarding the Holy Grail. He knows he must step out in faith, yet sees no way in which he will be saved from falling. It looks like certain death. Yet he knows he must take that step, that leap of faith. And so, believing, knowing, trusting, he steps off the ledge. That’s exactly what it was like for me in this situation.

Some would say as I do, that it was divinely orchestrated. Others would say it was simply my past catching up to me. One thing was certain, though. I had to take that step. And so I did, right off the end of that proverbial diving board. I submitted my resignation and hung out my shingle: R. L. Beahm and Associates, Marketing Consulting.

I immediately began my marketing campaign, calling all those names in my Rolodex. "Hello, Frank, it’s Roger. I just want you to know I’ve started my own marketing consulting practice. Yea, I wanted to see if I could take you to lunch and talk about some ways I might be able to help you and your people. Help get some projects done you haven’t had time for or internal resources to get to. To show how this can be a real value to you and your people."

People’s reactions were fairly predictable. Some gave me a hearty "congratulations. I wish I could do that." Others quietly held their breath and wondered to themselves, "How long do you think he can stay afloat now that he’s literally gone off the deep end and quit his job?" "Why would he ever put his family at such risk right now?"

But then you’ve made it past the second challenge gate. Mustered the guts, or succumbed to the pressure, and you’re on your own. You’re flying, or free falling, you’re not quite sure which yet. But that feeling I alluded to during my discussion of the dream, of "wide open spaces?" It’s there now. You've got it back. Except you’re on a new ridge, a new plateau, a new prairie. But are you standing or free falling? Somewhere, deep in the back of your mind, you remember that funny little saying: "It’s not the fall that’s painful, it’s just that last little inch."

Almost before you can truly appreciate the thrill of now having your own business ... of being an entrepreneur, you’re facing a third challenge, as difficult and as potentially dangerous as taking the leap itself. It’s the "temptation of looking back."

The Third Challenge

The temptation to look back and ruminate on how great it was when you worked for the corporation is a huge challenge to be overcome. Longing for the nostalgic past makes us all victims of "the good old days" syndrome. While you’re still in college, there’s not much past to reflect on. I recall only looking forward to that wonderful opportunity when I would be totally on my own.

When we start a new venture, motivation is sky high. Emotion carries us forward. Before long, resistance begins to set in, challenges become monumental, and we start to reflect on the past and escape to more pleasant memories. Perhaps I was better off in school, or before I left the corporation.

When you start your own business, you have no identity, no success factors and no support network. Your salary is no longer guaranteed, you have to worry about insurance, office space, cash flow, and travel expenses. The list goes on and on.

Most of you are familiar with the story of the exodus in the Bible, when the people of Israel left Egypt. As slaves to Pharaoh, they couldn’t wait to get out of that place, to go to the land of milk and honey. But once the lord delivered them from bondage, they were in the desert, thirsty and hungry. What did they do? That’s right, they said to Moses, "Weren’t we better off when we were still in Egypt?" Well guess what? Starting out as an entrepreneur is like that Red Sea crossing, and then finding yourself out in the desert wilderness. It’s not the land of milk and honey you thought it would be. At least you know you’re not there yet.

The old corporation covered all of your basic needs, and you were striving for higher ground on Maslow’s hierarchy. Food and water? Got it. Safety and security? Check! A sense of being appreciated? Well, at least I’ve still got a job! Self-esteem? I feel pretty good about the fact that I’m takin’ home a good paycheck. I might not be self-actualized, but what the heck, four out of five isn’t bad, especially in today’s environment.

Suddenly you realize you’ve quickly dropped back to the lowest levels on Abraham Maslow’s little pyramid. What happened to that last step to self-actualization? Instead, you’re asking, "Can I meet the basic needs of my family and my business?" You’re not thinking too much about appreciation and self-esteem when your revenues are microscopic and you have a negative cash flow.

It’s then that you truly face the temptation of looking back and saying, "What have I done?" "Wasn’t I better off before?" "Is it too late to go back to Egypt?" It’s a huge challenge we face as entrepreneurs. It’s then that you really start to see if that original vision was real or simply a pleasant dream that has turned into your worst nightmare. But wake up! Overcoming this particular challenge requires implementing two very simple principles: One ... stay focused on stringing together a few simple, small victories. And two ... have a little patience.

I believe it was John Maynard Keynes who once said, "The long run is made up of nothing but a series of short runs." Nowhere is this more obvious and applicable than in the early life of your new company. Making those first, small sales, generating an initial cash flow, reinvesting your earnings, starting to upgrade your product quality, building brand awareness, and generating trial. You remember your lessons from b-school and your on-the-job experience.

Now it’s not just Folgers’s Coffee or Clorox Bleach that you’re building share and volume for. It’s you. Your own practice. Your own business. Your own corporation.

Celebrate your small victories in the beginning, but don’t dwell on them long. String them together one victory at a time and you’ll make it through that wilderness experience. It’s at this infant stage where every cliché in the book applies. "You’re only as good as your last ball game." "This is where the rubber meets the road." "Don’t put all your eggs in one basket." "When it rains it pours." You’ll learn ’em all ... you’ll see ’em all ... you’ll believe ’em all.

I believe you learn more of life’s little lessons in that first year when you start your own company than in any other year of your life, save your first. But at least back then you had someone to catch you when you fell. Trust me on this one. If you don’t have religion before you start your own company, I guarantee you’ll find it the first year out!

So the challenge is, will you make it? Will your company survive? The secret lies in focusing on the little tasks, the little jobs, the little necessities at first. One at a time. Recognize them, attack them, complete them and quickly tackle the next one. It was Ulysses S. Grant who said, "Find out where your enemy is ... get at him as soon as you can ... strike him as hard as you can ... and move on!"

In that first year or two, don’t set your goals so unrealistically high such that you assure failure. Be satisfied with covering your basic needs. And before long, with perseverance and patience, you’ll find that the short run becomes the interim ... and the interim, the long run. And Newton’s first law of motion works to your advantage this time as it’s articulated in the alternate form, "a body in motion tends to stay in motion." And then it is "tempus fugat ... time flies." The nostalgic past is no longer at someone else’s company. The tough, new days become the "good old days" in your own.

But you must always resist the temptation to look back. Eyes forward, and you will succeed in passing this third challenge gate. Then there’s only one left, but it too will be daunting and prove one of your great challenges.

The Final Challenge

My fourth and final challenge gate for you, for being an entrepreneur who is truly enjoying the freedom that the opportunity offers you, is a little different from all the others. It doesn’t hit you overnight, and it isn’t the result of pressure. Instead it creeps in a little more each time you make a decision, each time you take on a new assignment, or license another brand, or create another product or open another distribution channel. It’s the challenge of being true to yourself. Let me explain what this idea means to me.

I believe each of us was created to do something special on this earth and to be someone special. You may not feel it, you may not think it right now, but I believe it’s true. The sad part of it is, not everyone finds it. When you’re doing something you weren’t meant to do, or in a place you don’t want to be, it’s like going against the grain of the universe. When you find your calling, your niche, your place on the planet, life is a most rewarding and enjoyable experience. To me, being true to yourself means honestly recognizing who you are, and doing the things you do best, those things you were meant to do.

As an entrepreneur, you have the great freedom to do many things others can’t. You make the decisions ... how much do you want to work, when, where, and for whom? How will you spend your time? It’s what I like to call "the Saturday morning" phenomenon. Some people only get that feeling on weekends, and then maybe only for a few short hours. And my friends here who are CPAs don’t even get that privilege right now during tax season.

The problem is, in the business you start and run, small, early decisions will drive, over time, what you ultimately become. Make sure your decisions are guided by principles that truly reflect who you are. One of the fundamental ones we have adopted in our own business is that we won’t do anything illegal, immoral, or in bad taste. Admittedly, some of those are guided by personal conscience as much as statute and legislation, but as an entrepreneur, you need to adopt principles to live by which will ultimately guide your ability to make sound decisions and run your company. They need to reflect who you are.

One of the hardest decisions we ever had to make in our company occurred six years ago. Near the end of the first term of the Clinton presidency, the Food and Drug Administration wrote new tobacco regulations for this country, which would have severely curtailed our ability to exercise what we believed was our constitutional first amendment right of free speech, as it applies to consumer marketing. When these regulations were first announced, we could have passively let the administrative branch of our federal government, through regulation, gradually erode those rights. Or we could defend them as aggressively as other Americans have in the past to protect our fundamental freedoms, this time by challenging the Food and Drug Administration in the federal courts. We chose this route.

No one wants to sue the government. I am as patriotic as the next person. But to be honest and true to myself and to our company and clients, I simply could not let this go without weighing in. As lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, and with only five other plaintiffs initially, all the major tobacco manufacturers, we filed suit in Federal District Court in the middle district of North Carolina. Instantly "Coyne Beahm Inc. vs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration" became headlines in newspapers and on hundreds of links on the internet.

For the next four years our case, including various forms of appeal, wound its way through the federal court system and ultimately was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a ruling that followed oral arguments by about three months, the Supreme Court ruled favorably for us. FDA had no jurisdiction to create such regulations in the first place.

As I mentioned before, no one likes to sue the government any more than they like to be sued. But it’s comforting to know, as long as you work within the system properly, right can triumph. I believe you must stick to principles and do what is right. To me that’s being true to yourself.

My other example is one that’s more positive, and totally current. One of my greatest interests is working internationally, and right now it’s with companies in east Asia ... teaching marketing principles and helping promote a spirit of cooperation as Asian economies accelerate.

Clearly, China’s admission into the World Trade Organization on December 11, 2001, along with its designation as the site of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, will be two of the biggest boosts to commerce for that country in decades.

As a result, China will continue to operate more openly in our global market economy, and America will better understand and appreciate Chinese culture and methods. I look forward to the tearing down of more of the barriers that separate our two countries and economies. But I believe more of us can be thermostats, and not just thermometers, affecting change, not just reflecting it, as we work at a "grass roots" level to bring this about. Let’s not just leave it to national governments or the largest corporations. Let’s get medium and smaller businesses directly involved ... that’s where it’s got to happen anyway. You’re already starting down this track with your furniture executives’ trip this summer.

Twice in the past four months, I’ve been to Beijing and northeastern China working with local entrepreneurs, corporate marketing executives, and business development officials. I am so encouraged by the friendliness and enthusiasm and openness that I feel today coming out of China. The feeling is mutual from business colleagues I have talked to here in America. We must work diligently to take politics out of the dialogue, and have substantive information exchanges and joint project activities. Only then can we create synergy which will fuel both economies, honor both cultures, and minimize the risk of misunderstandings which lead to political tension.

To this end, Mr. Li Jun, vice-director of business development for the city of Shenyang in the People’s Republic of China, and I have a shared vision of starting a pilot program whereby line and staff managers in individual companies could receive "internships" at counterpart businesses and organizations in each other’s country for a period of from three weeks to three months. Ultimate integration and partnership among medium and smaller sized companies should be a next step.

I have a personal goal to help get this business management exchange program off and running, to have at least several exchanges in place and operating by early next year. Mr. Li Jun and I will meet again later this spring and again this summer to work through more of the details of the program and begin identifying partnering businesses.

I would encourage the Walker College of Business to be a partner in this next phase of business exchange. After all, education is the ultimate goal in all of this. We all know well that learning doesn’t stop just because you complete a pre-assigned curriculum and walk out with a signature on an "official" piece of paper.

I cite this pilot program because it is something I truly believe in. When you’re an entrepreneur, or have your own company, you can decide more easily what principles to defend and what causes to champion.

This is the challenge of being true to yourself. How will you make a difference, for individual people, and for the common good, when and while you have the chance? Men like Bill Holland and Harlan Boyles have done just that.

So that’s the fourth and final challenge gate ... being true to yourself ... doing the things you love to ... doing the things that keep the fire burning inside your heart, for a lifetime of satisfaction and fulfillment.

E. E. Cummings, in his poem "Little Gidding" uniquely sums it up for me:

"We shall not cease from exploration ...
And the end of all our exploring ...
Will be to arrive where we started ...
And know the place for the first time."

So that’s it, what I believe are the four challenge gates that anyone who strives to be an entrepreneur ... and then to enjoy the freedom it can bring with it ... must encounter and must clear. Do you have the motivation in here (point to heart), not just here (point to head)?

Are you able to meet the challenge of the "high board" and step out into the unknown by faith?

Do you have the will to resist the temptation of looking back? And will you be honest enough about what you want to do in your career and in your life so as to be true to yourself?

If the answer to all four of these turns out to be yes, then I believe you can achieve the freedom you seek ... as students of the Walker College of Business, or Fudan University, or the University of Colorado, or even if you are already in your own chosen career.

That freedom will not have been born without cost ... without challenge. But I believe in the end, if you pay it, if you endure it, it will be worth it. It certainly has been for me. Thank you for your generous attention this afternoon. You are a great group of students, and I have enjoyed my time with you immensely. God bless you.