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Do What You Say You Will Do

Jim Correll, director Fab Lab ICC at Independence Community College, Independence Kansas 

Some of you that have been in the county for a while will remember Brad Eilts. He was a previous executive director of Montgomery County Action. Council (MCAC.Back in 2012. before Fab Lab ICC, he had helped us get a “jobs” grant by demonstrating how helping entrepreneurs could grow jobs in a local or regional economy. That grant was one of the first signals I can remember where a grantor was receptive to the idea that entrepreneurs, not just big companies, might become a major driver of the economy. 

In the spring of 2012, Brad ask me to co-present with him at a Kansas League of Municipalities conference in Wichita. I had been involved with the City of Independence in incubating businesses in what is now known as the I-Mall building at 325 N Penn. I chose to talk about “10 Myths of Business Incubation.” When I asked Brad how long we’d have to present, he said “I didn’t think it would take very long so I told them 10 minutes for each of us.” Astounded, I replied “I can’t finish the introduction in 10 minutes.” I think he ended up getting us 30 minutes each. I like having time to fully unpack a topic and I like to use a lot of pictures. 

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when Adult Basic Education (ABE) instructor, Dan Fossoy, asked me to provide opening remarks for the ABE graduation ceremony on May 4. It was a privilege to be asked. Even though just opening remarks, I wanted to use the remarks to give the graduates the secret to success. Readers of this column know we’ve become big advocates for the ABE program in helping people get their high school diplomas after not getting them in a conventional high school setting. There were twenty-two graduates since last year’s ceremony with eleven of them and 150 family members and friends attending this year’s ceremony. We brought ABE to the Lab last January so I’ve gotten to know several but not all of the ABE graduates. Many have quite a story about why they did not finish high school in the conventional way. Some learn in one of the eight or ten learning styles not taught in school, so they were branded as “slow,” dropping out from frustration. Some had personal and family situations that got in the way, some tragic. Yet, they persevered and obtaining the diploma is a huge deal for them, much more so than we realize. 

I asked Dan how long I had to present my opening remarks and he said “Oh, four or five minutes.” Silently, I said to myself “What??? How am I going to tell them the secrets of success in only five minutes? 

I ended up sticking to my five minutes. I told the graduates I was going to give them the secret to a successful life and that they already had more than half of what is required. First thing is to decide to serve others, either directly as customers or through an employer, while doing something you enjoy. Second, is to be ready to be a life-long learner since our rapidly changing world will demand that everyone always learn more. The good news is that while more school may be part of the answer, there are lots of ways to learn besides school. Third and most important is to do what you say you are going to do and that the world, in the form of customers and employers is yearning to work with people that do what they say they will do. That’s it. Those three things will make anyone successful in life. Serving others, being a life-long learner and doing what you say you will do.  

Jim Correll is the director of Fab Lab ICC at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Independence Community College. He can be reached at (620) 252-5349, by email at jcorrell@indycc.edu or Twitter @jimcorrellks. 


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