This business coach training will focus on a life lesson based on a quote by Napoleon Hill, the author of the best selling self-help book, Think and Grow Rich: “Our time will never be just right. We must act now.”
As the summer was winding down, my plan was going well. I had saved up almost $13,000, and I knew how I was going to spend every last dime of it. I don’t remember the exact totals of what everything cost, but I do remember writing them all down in a red spiral notebook. I wrote something to the effect of: American DJ Mixer = $300.00, American DJ Light Trussing = $75.00, Amp = $600.00, DenonTM CD player = $450.00, Light Bin = $10.00 (etc.) Once I added it all together, it appeared as though I would need a little over $10,000 to transform my DJ Connection dream in to a reality. I was getting so close to creating my dream job that I could taste it. I could see myself in possession of all the equipment. I could visualize Vanessa saying yes, and there was nothing that was going to stop me. I arranged for Vanessa to fly to Minneapolis so that she could meet up with my family, and so that she and I could drive back to ORU together in my new ride. We worked well together in that we never creatively limited each other. I recorded the “Ford Escort Song,” a sexual tribute to my late 1989 Ford Escort and my first DJ ride. Adam recorded Christian and positive-minded rap songs. I recorded off-the-wall love songs for my fiancé. And then late one night (all night) we recorded “ORU SLIM SHADY.” This parody was and still is the ultimate ORU campus song. This song brought excessive amounts of heat upon us because it addressed the broadly (but quietly) held belief that Lindsay and Richard Roberts were (allegedly) corrupt into campus conversations among the students. To be fair, the song was caustic, and to be fair, it was funny, but it did get me in a lot of trouble. (Online business training tip: Do not write, produce, and record caustic songs.) Because people liked the song, and because we were attending college during the year 2000, the song spread quickly via the Napster file-sharing program. This song began to grow at a viral pace after a few of our friends “borrowed it” and put it online. I will probably never know who put the song on Napster or who put the song on every student’s campus voicemail, but I do know that this song made me instantaneously infamous at ORU and made me forever synonymous with the “ORU SLIM SHADY.” Before this audio sensation made its way across campus via CD, the school’s voicemail system, and e-mail, Adam was long gone. When he transferred, the song’s popularity reached its peak.
Around the time of the song’s 10,000th download off of Napster, I was the only one left at ORU to answer for the song’s content, which I actually enjoyed doing. For whatever reason, I actually get a big thrill out of having confrontations with people when I know that I am right. The only part of the song that I did not agree with was the comment about Danny. Danny was a person who Adam had some disagreements with (thus he voiced them on the song. Note: Danny, if you’re reading this, we love you, man.) At the end of the day, this little audio gem worked tirelessly spreading its way around campus until eventually I would be asked to leave the school by the Dean of Men. Sometime before the song reached its absolute pinnacle in popularity, my life changed.
It was late in the evening, maybe around midnight. It might have been later, but I remember it being after one of my DJ shows. And just like any other night when returning to ORU past curfew, I signed in at the front desk with Dan (the bulky night security guy). I again risked my life by hopping on the old-school elevator located within our dormitory. I hit the 4 button to take me up to Covenant. As I rode up, nothing felt different, and I looked forward to a night of good sleep since I was exhausted. When the elevator doors opened, I stepped out of the old-school, linoleum-style “retro-vator,” and I turned right to round the corner on the way down to my dorm room. As I rounded the corner, I finally felt something different in the air, and I noticed that nearly every man on our wing was sitting in the hall. Some guys were crying, some guys were silent, others tried to encourage each other. I figured at this point that possibly the wing had been disbanded, which it seemed was always a constant threat from the deans who did not appreciate our attention to detail when planning wing-initiation ceremonies, nude dorm marches, or rival mascot “borrowing” nights.
As I walked passed twenty-five of the greatest guys on earth and went to room 2416, my lifelong buddy (and Spartan-looking) Adam grabbed my shoulder in a fatherly manner and asked if he could come into my room. He said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, so I am just going to tell you. Mark is dead. He was killed in a car accident. We didn’t know how to reach you so . . . .” At that point, I quit listening. I am pretty sure that somebody suggested that we ought to pray. I’m not positive, but I think someone did. I do recall not wanting to pray. I was never really one who wanted to pray about anything, good or bad. I don’t know why that was. I guess I just believed that God ultimately did what He wanted to do, and we really didn’t have much say in His ultimate game plan. Thus, I figured that I should just do the best I could do, and if He stopped or helped me along the way, that’s just fine. Even if it weren’t fine, there wouldn’t be much of a point arguing with God. The more Adam talked, the more I lost touch with reality. My mind frantically bounced around with a mixture of memories, sorrow, thoughts, doubts, ideas, memories, hope, and could-have’s. All of the negative thoughts soon vanished, and my short-term mission occurred to me. I felt a need to do something, so without hesitation, I grabbed my keys and hopped into the hand-painted maroon MPV and headed over to Mark’s parents’ house.
I never stopped to think that it was after midnight and that Mark would not be there regardless of how fast I drove to his parents’ house. When I pulled in the driveway of Rich and Pam’s house in Sand Springs, my emotions finally got the best of me. I burst into tears. I just sat there in the driveway hitting my steering wheel, and crying. There I sat mourning and hoping that God would somehow do a New-Testament-style miracle and bring my best friend back to life. It’s funny how even now years later, I still often times pray for that same miracle. I always pray that God would restore him like in the story of Lazarus. I am sure that if He did, someone would call Him a demon, but I now know that God has that kind of power. After all, He created the Earth. For some odd reason, God has not answered this prayer. I think it’s probably because of some sin in my life. Actually I don’t think of any of that. Spiritually, I just no longer think about it because thinking of Mark’s death is too painful. I just trust that Mark is where he is supposed to be for a reason. (Online business coach tip: Whether we understand it or not, all things do happen for a reason.) I don’t remember when I told Vanessa (my fiancé at the time) about Mark’s death. I don’t remember how she reacted to it, but I do know that I felt tremendous emptiness in my heart. I do know that Mark, my friend who had encouraged me to get married so young and the man who was going to be the best man in our wedding, was gone. (Just to clarify, Joe made a fine best man, and he would have been the best man had it not been for Mark’s relationship with me.) Had I had listened to other people, I would not have been getting married at all. Mark was my encourager; Mark was one of the sparks that lit the DJ Connection passion flame. In the following days leading up to and after Mark’s funeral, I changed. Mark’s parents changed. Many people’s lives changed. Mark’s funeral bore witness to his character and his life’s impact as over 500 people (who he had somehow touched) attended his funeral. It was incredible to see the outpouring of love displayed. It’s sad to me that Mark never got a chance to see this overwhelming impact and love until after he died (he saw it from an aerial perspective).
The entire wing of Covenant came to support Mark’s family, and for that, I will always be grateful. As I gave the eulogy for my best friend before peers and family, the men of Covenant seemed to nudge me along with their prayers and presence. It is amazing how at this time, for the first time, I was completely unafraid of the audience whom I was speaking to while in a public-speaking situation. I was unafraid of their reactions because I knew what I was saying was divinely inspired glimpses into the life of a great young man. I remember almost losing it once because I simply could not hold back my tears any longer. I had tried to make his eulogy uplifting and humorous, but I just could not fight back the tears. At that point, I looked up to the back of that Baptist Church in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and there I caught a glimpse of my friend and wing mate, Adam. He made eye contact with me in way that said so much. With his eyes he said, “You can do it, Clayton.” With his eyes he said, “I love you as a brother. And you can do this. You will do this. Now, quit crying and do it!” I will always remember Adam being there and looking me in the eye to guide me through the closing remarks of the hardest public-speaking gig that I have ever had. (Online business coach tip: You need good people who will encourage you to do the right thing, uplift you when you are down, and support you during hard times in your life.)
From that point on, I never battled uncontrollable stage fright again. Growing up, I used to severely struggle with stuttering. Every time I would misspeak or get stuck on a word, this overwhelming feeling of anxiety would take over. Thus, whenever I was asked to speak as part of a church play or any public event, those overwhelming feelings of anxiety would return; and then I would simply refuse to speak publicly even if it meant getting in to trouble with my teachers. However, after giving Mark’s eulogy, I have no longer been overtaken with those feelings of anxiety when speaking publically. Like everyone else, I do get nervous with anticipation. The adrenaline still gets pumping, but I no longer fear with the life and death intensity that I once did speaking in front of an audience. I always tell my clients during our business coach sessions: You never know what gifts, blessings, and lessons, trials and tough times may bring. This gift of confidence in public speaking was given to me during one of the most horrific times in my life.
I have never been one to value the mindless opinions of most people to begin with, but after Mark’s death, I no longer spend ANY of my time trying to please anyone who I do not sincerely care for or whose favor I do not seek. It was through Mark’s death that I was taught how to live life. Thank you, Mark. Without you, I know that I would not have begun to scratch the surface of my potential at a young age, and I would not seize each day with the same level of passion for life that I currently do. I now view life as gift and each day that I am given is a true blessing. (Please re-read the previous sentence and really soak in that business coach gem of truth.)
After Mark passed, I woke up each day even more eager for what life had in store for me, for I knew that I was definitely not guaranteed anything. Thus, it was with this new attitude that I really started to pursue my passions, my goals, and my business coach plans to achieve them. Off to class at ORU I went. Each day as I sat in Humanities, Government, and Quantitative Literacy listening to my professors, I became more and more sure that I and most of the students in these classes were wasting our time studying and memorizing general pieces of knowledge when what we really needed to get was practical and applicable knowledge. During one particular class (Humanities), the class lecture grew so theoretical that I remember jotting down notes resembling the following thought process: If I sit here for 4 years of my life, and I will probably only live to be 82 or so, I have just spent 4.8% of my life here doing nothing. Whereas if I spent even 3 months studying and marketing myself as a DJ, I could become successful using only about .05% of my life. If I were to spend my time studying only things that I cared about, I would be much more interested in them, and then I would not be listening to professors talk about the Justinian Empire and how to plot a sloping line (no offense to the Justinian empire or those who enjoy graphing a sloping line). Thoughts like these made it harder and harder to endure lectures about business from professors who had never owned a business. I wanted to hear lectures, but I wanted to hear them from business owners. Armed with thoughts like these, I mowed through tests, aced Government and other courses that mattered, while theoretical classes started to become unbearable, to the point that I started to feel the need to debate the validity of these classes with my professors. They always responded in upset irate tones as they attempted to defend their reasons for doing a job in which they were not passionate. I grew more and more anxious to get on with my life. I became so frustrated with the slow pace of college that I debated simply dropping out of college altogether. I was ready to leave college yesterday when the deans called me into their dark-wood-paneled-offices-of-discipline-and-reprimand to answer for the “ORU SLIM SHADY” content.
As the deans asked me questions, I did everything that I could to verbally and physically communicate that I was thoroughly unapologetic about the song’s content, and I was defiant to the end. What made the situation extra fun was that they knew the song’s lyrics. They were brutal, negative, caustic and accurate. Those lyrics outwardly spoke about the feelings many students kept inside (towards the administration). Richard Roberts had his own private jet and lived a lavish lifestyle financed by university debt, while average families and students were expected to give everything they could to the ministry for the “good of the kingdom.” In my opinion, the Deans were apologists for the Lindsay and Richard Roberts’ personal expense foundation (as witnessed in the 2008 lawsuit launched by former ORU professors against Lindsay and Richard). The Deans definitely did not like that this song exposed their bosses for being “alleged” fraudulent lying plunderers of the ministry’s finances. Later, all of America witnessed the “alleged fraud of Richard Roberts” during his national Larry King interview. Later, Richard claimed that “God told him to resign” (which is Richard’s code language for: my lawyers have pointed out to me that there is no way that I have even the smallest chance of beating these lawsuits. I think I will resign if the school promises to drop all charges). The 2008 lawsuits ultimately lead to Richard’s resignation (“Ding dong, the witch is dead”–Wizard of Oz).
During my 2000 fallout with the administration, I found it odd that the administration never seemed to have a problem with Lindsay and Richard’s “alleged” strong-arming of the university to give scholarships to students they liked, who had only scored a twelve on their ACTs. They did not seem to have any issues with Richard using his students’ required chapel time as his chance to fleece the entire student body for yet another monetary “seed faith gift” to their ministry, so they could “allegedly” fire up their personal jet one more time en route to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. Many members of the administration never seemed too concerned that Lindsay would title her sermons with such creative titles as, “Get the Hell Out of Your Life.” They never seemed to notice they were promoting hypocrisy by endorsing Lindsay and Richard Roberts, and by standing behind them no matter how out of control they allegedly got.
AN UNBIASED VOICE OF SANITY – Thom Clark (my dad and an ORU graduate) As of this date (1/23/09), if anyone asked me if I would encourage my child to attend ORU, I would give an emphatic YES. My best friends and deepest relationships are all a result of attending ORU. I now feel a deep affection for my alma mater. If asked the same question between 1993 and 2007, I would have answered an equally emphatic NO. Clayton attended ORU during the 1993-2007 timeframe. I am even more proud of him for learning from adversity and standing up for his principles, even when those in leadership did not.
Business Coach Note-To-Self: Do not write truth-exposing parodies about corrupt people if you are trying to befriend them.
HUGE Disclaimer: I have HUGE AMOUNTS OF RESPECT for most of the faculty and teachers at ORU. I am now super happy with the direction that the school is headed since the resignation of Richard and the overhaul funded by the Green family and the Hobby Lobby team. Now that King Richard is gone, we can all feel good about sending our kids there.
Long story short: I got kicked out of ORU for “selling and distributing a song” on campus. I actually recorded my exit interview with the deans (without them knowing), and I sometimes will listen to it when I need some extra motivation (as if being taunted for stuttering and losing my best friend was not motivation enough). Being kicked out of college forced me to mature really quickly. And I did. With my back against the wall, I moved into the Fountain Crest apartments with help from my mom and dad, who had to co-sign for me. I cannot thank my parents enough for helping me out and believing in me. It would have killed my spirit to move back “up north” to Minne-snow-ta to live in a land where the mosquito is the state bird, winter is dangerously cold, and basketball, baseball, and football come in fourth, fifth, and sixth (in popularity) behind hunting, fishing, and casino gaming. I love many Minnesotans, but I do not like Minnesota. With the help of my Vanessa (my fiancé at the time), I sustained myself by eating bagels from the ORU cafeteria. Vanessa and I got married later that spring on a Sunday in May. We chose a Sunday so that many of our college friends and family would still be able to attend before they flew back home to their respective places of origin for the summer. Our wedding was beautiful, and our future was bright.
“Knowledge without application is meaningless.” – THOMAS EDISON
Let this business coach post have lasting meaning to the overall outcome of your life. Answer the following questions:
1. Write down and describe the biggest setback that you have dealt with in your life up to this point (examples: death of a loved one, stuttering, getting kicked out of college, being unable to find matching socks, etc.)
2. What life lesson did you learn from this setback?
3. Who is your best friend and why?
4. Call your best friend and let them know why you appreciate them so much (because they might not be around tomorrow).
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