A Knight of Affirmation

Thursday was our 18th Annual Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.  It’s an important day in the college.  Honoring our most successful alums is an affirming event for the faculty and staff—it reminds us why we do what we do.  It is also an opportunity to show the community what we are all about and why we are worthy of their time, talent and treasure.  The event has grown to be quite large.  This year we expected 740 guests.


So, as you might imagine, it’s an all hands on deck production. We want people to leave our event having something they want to talk about at work the next morning.  Job descriptions give way to just getting stuff done and putting on a first-class event.   People, especially the students involved in the evening, leave their comfort zones behind.


This year in the final rush hours leading up to the event at Rosen Shingle Creek, Jennifer Johnson, our Director of Engagement, tore her quad muscle.  I didn’t even learn of it until the event had started and by then Jennifer had gone to the ER, had it taped-up, was given crutches and returned to experience the evening.  The tear is painful and any reasonable person would have expected Jennifer to go home and begin her recovery.  She came back to work, not because she had to, but because it was where she wanted to be that evening.  We all toasted her at our after-party.  I smiled somewhat smugly.


People sometimes wonder why I like to hire folks with sharp edges and give them wide discretion to be who they are and do their thing.  They think that hiring people more willing to color in the lines would be easier and lead to more predictable behaviors and outcomes.  I always reply that when you hire people with passion, they come armed with two edges to their sword…you don’t get one without the other.  But if you are willing to engage them on their terms, they will return the respect and support you show them many times over and the place will advance in ways you could never have engineered on your own.  The most affirming thing that happened at this year’s Hall of Fame was Jennifer returning for the evening.   More than the big crowd, amazing inductees, honored guests and energizing students, her actions told me we are on to something in the college of business.



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