Business Coach Training via Flashback: Where are you going with your life?
My tolerance for the slow pace of life found in Cokato, Minnesota, (approximate population 2,038) had reached its threshold. I worked nights cleaning the assisted living home kitchen while eating instant maple sugar and peaches-and-cream-flavored oatmeal as a I listened 1999’s finest fresh jams, including, but not limited to, Tyrese, Da Brat, Blackstreet, Montell Jordan, and other R&B artists. As I worked day and night, I kept thinking about what I was going to do when I got out of Minne-snow-ta and back to my home of Tulsa. Finally, as the long, work-filled summer came to a close, I made the final over-the-phone arrangements for my enrollment at Oral Roberts University with my longtime neighbor and good friend Adam. He had always been like a brother to me, so I trusted him when he recommended that I come to ORU and apply to live on campus in the dormitory named EMR on the fourth floor, north wing, called Covenant. Eventually, after I had finally completed all the applications and was eventually accepted to ORU, my closest Minnesotan friend, Joe, and I promptly drew up some legendary plans to make one final road trip. I really looked forward to this trip because any trip with Joe was always fun. These trips were always great because they involved man-law logic such as not stopping to ask for directions, singing along loudly with all songs, and a general excitement and eagerness for the unexpected. In fact, our trip itinerary bound together our strict adherence to various unwritten but universally understood man laws. We never used a map, and we were never allowed to take any time out from driving to allow for sightseeing until we had reached our destination of choice. Joe “The Traveler” and I had determined that we would be traveling to Tulsa via the scenic route through Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis. And so off we went in the Ford Escort.
When we got to Tulsa, I was fired up when I discovered that I would definitely be rooming with my lifelong friend Mark. Mark and I had been best friends since around age two. We had started out being G.I. Joe and Star Wars buddies, and over time, we had advanced to become baseball and church buddies. Now at the highly sophisticated age of eighteen, we had finally reached the level of college, self-discovery, and roommate buddies. Mark stood about 5-foot-8, he had brown hair, a contagious smile, and was one of the best conversationalists out there. He was hyperactive; thus, he always paced back and forth like a super-aggressive lawyer might do as he passionately pleads his case to the jury. Mark had genuine sincerity to encourage others, and he loved to laugh. He was by far the most compassionate person that I have ever met at the time. In contrast, I was always so busy and self-absorbed that I was generally oblivious to many people and events around me. He told me on more than one occasion, “Clay, the meaning of life is relationships.” Mark was also really witty, so rooming with him was always humorous. For instance, the average human might say, “John and Karen had sex.” But, no, that would be too simple for Mark. He would say, “John and Karen got parallel.” He was hilarious. As I moved into the dorm room, I quickly became aware that I would be spending the next four years on a floor where personality was king. Most Oral Roberts University students come from all over the world to attend college, so on a floor with thirty guys, there is always bound to be some level of excitement as various cultures and life experiences are forced to coexist in a college dorm environment. I believe that ORU required all non-commuting freshmen and sophomores to live in the dorms, so the culture was pretty much established that the dorms were not just a place to stay, they were a place to live.
The floor I stayed on (Covenant) was bound together by our pursuit of intramural athletic glory. Our teams routinely dominated campus sporting events. Outside of Full Armor, Youngblood, and Lifeguard, we pretty much ruled the campus in this regard. But what made the ORU dorm life so incredible was the people. We all shared moral values (and communal shower-spread foot fungus) although we all had different life ambitions. For the first time in my life, I was only surrounded by people that had ambition. On our floor, we only had 1 or 2 (out of 30 guys) who were without ambition and consistent beer-drinking partygoers. Most of the guys on our floor had goals and a life plan, and they were at college to work that plan while having as much fun as possible. Although my memory is going to forget a few key people, here were some of the more memorable personalities that made up the Covenant floor and so much of my college experience:
Josh – He was my neighbor until the age of twelve. He was older than the rest of us and he played division-one soccer on the east coast previous to transferring to ORU. Josh was super athletic, ultra fast on the football field (like 4.5 – 40 yard dash-type speed . . . think of a white Deion Sanders). Josh was very philosophical and always thought with a depth that was beyond that of most college students. He broke the ORU honor code (because it did not violate his own personal honor code) and bought me a $20 cigar for my birthday. Josh was studying Information Technology while attending ORU. He was funny at times, and his brown hair had to always be just perfect before he would go outside. He dressed like a stereotypical Oxford graduate student and was a guy who I should have been studying when it came to dressing for success. I love Josh like a brother, and he was always there for me when I needed something. He was the sage of Covenant. Josh looked almost exactly like Russell Crowe’s character in Gladiator.
Adam– His facial structure could be likened to that of your average Spartan warrior from the movie 300. Adam loved playing video games, and he had this running joke that lasted four years where he would talk like a gay guy who had been inhaling helium. For some reason, this joke never got old, and he loved to call Dave and Tedder “idiots.” While in college, Adam dated a girl (whom he is now married to) while she was still in high school; thus, we gave him a hard time about it whenever possible. Adam’s moral clarity in all situations was Dr. Laura-esque; and, at times, it was much needed on our dorm floor. Adam was the Ray Lewis of intramural flag football (the motivator, the player/coach, and the hard-hitter). He was the drum beat behind our obsessive quest to win “All-School” for scoring the most total combined intramural points of any dormitory floor at ORU. I love Adam like a brother, and he is a good dude who should be playing some type of professional sport today. The dude was like the Bo Jackson of intramural college sports; he could do it all.
Ryan – one of the most hilarious people that I have ever been around. His gay Cuban impersonation was hilarious, and the helium-influenced “gay” conversations that he, Adam, and Dave would jokingly have with each other were hilarious. Ryan was always joking about getting with Dave’s mom or Adam’s mom, and this line of humor continued during his entire time at ORU. Ryan dressed like a pop-music star, and he was ambitious. Ryan was kind of the intelligent “Kramer” of our floor. He would always bound into our dorm room with a new song, some random business coach perspective or witty commentary. Although Ryan was athletic and physically very strong, the guys liked to give him a hard time about being gay because of his preferences in dress and music. Ryan spent most of his free time roaming up and down the halls singing and playing his guitar. Although many people learned to play the guitar during their time at ORU, Ryan was the only one I ever heard who could really PLAY THE GUITAR. He could play the guitar with passion, soul, and humor. As Ryan’s college career came to a close, he was featured on MTV as part of former N’ Sync member’s Lance Bass’ s contest called “Free Lance.” Ryan’s song, “The Look,” gained huge popularity over the Internet. Ryan wanted to become a huge songwriter, and he wasn’t going to stop until he became one. Although everyone messed with Ryan for his passionate desire to make it in the business, I sincerely believe it was this undeniable passion that finally connected Ryan and his band mates to their destiny as pop/rock stars. Since college, Ryan has written songs for Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, his group One Republic, Leonna Lewis, and numerous other pop stars. Ryan is a huge megastar now, but his ambition back then was inspirational to me. His success now is a business coach motivator for me. Congrats, Ryan, you earned it.
Jacob– This dude was one of the most sincere and honorable people that I had the opportunity to meet during my time at ORU. Jake was my resident advisor during my freshman year; thus, we had a few minor run-ins because I have a tendency to push the envelope and test boundaries. Jake stood at a tall-and-slender looking 6-foot-3, and he had dark hair. I like Jake because he would let me debate religion and life with him, while refraining from getting mad when he did not agree. I realize, looking back on it, what a moron I was at times; but in high school, no one really debates. In high school, the big guy who talks the loudest just states his beliefs and everyone agrees, or if you were an idiot, you would get a close-up perspective of the big guy’s fist. Thank you, Jake, for letting me debate with you.
Mike – Mike was from Oregon and was close friends with my roommate in college. He had an obsession to coach college football, and he looked like Tom Cruise. Mike was always trying to use his guitar and his charm to score with the ladies, and he would never share with us whether he scored or not, unless he had consumed some alcohol.
Marty– Whenever I think of Marty, I always visualize him naked because on our floor, he was always naked. Marty liked to walk into your dorm room naked. He then would proceed to sit down and have a casual conversation with you. He thought that this was hysterical, and this was really the only form of humor that I ever saw him engage in. Marty was a great basketball player with a phenomenal singing voice that he used to praise the Lord at our ORU chapels. Marty came from a rough background, but he was a great guy. Today he is a pastor somewhere, but I still think of him naked.
Chad – I don’t know what Chad’s last name is, but he was from Texas, and he sounded like George Bush’s brother. He was huge as well. He was 6-foot-4 or so and probably weighed an athletic, lineman-looking 230 pounds. Chad was fun to have on the floor and was always an encourager. He was balding, which we all found to be funny because he was only around twenty-one.
Jake– This guy was hilarious. He invited Vanessa (my wife) to go on the “Get Your Roommate a Date” with me since Mark (my roommate) refused to go because he was still dating a girl from high school. I am forever indebted to Jake. Jake was very loud and confident when he talked, and he loved to mess around with everyone. He was also fond of nudity, and he liked to walk around naked most of the time. He was super muscular, and I think he enjoyed admiring his body. Jake cut the hair of everyone on the floor, and he is the reason that I currently use Jake’s “tuft system” to cut my hair—basically, I shave all of my head and leave just a little hair in the front for styling purposes. This haircut was Jake’s patented style.
“Meeker”– He was skinny, had unforgettable red hair, and had very memorable facial features. Meeker worked at Southern Hills Golf Club and was always getting lucrative tips that he used to furnish his dorm room with a big-screen TV and leather furniture. Meeker was the floor’s bookie for all betting activities. Meeker also viewed himself as the floor’s general manager, and he conducted himself as such. He was always making our rosters and schedules for intramurals. He always had strong opinions, especially regarding business coach, and he was quick to share them.
Walt– Walt was the chaplain for Covenant during my freshman year. Honestly, at first I liked Walter, and then I did not like him, and then I started to like him again. Walter was a tall and super-thin guy. He was athletic, very thin. He was good with the nunchucks; thus, we considered him to be our ninja chaplain. He was a legal eagle at heart, so it made being our Chaplain tough I am sure. I know that Walt felt it was his civic duty to report all wrongdoings to the campus hall director, but he also wanted to fit in with the guys and be accepted. This was tough, but Walt did a great job. Walt participated in a couple of the all-nighter recording sessions, and he did an incredible Flava Flav impersonation.
Eugene (non-wing mate) – Eugene was one of my good friends during my time at ORU. He was physically huge and had a 35-year-old Shaquille O’Neal look to himself. Come to think of it, he could have been Shaq’s 6-foot-3 body double. Eugene and I met during lunch one day when I introduced myself to him and essentially started harassing him with humor and probing questions. This is pretty much how I meet everyone. Quickly, he and I started arguing about Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. He felt Sammy wasn’t getting as many quality pitches to hit because of racism in baseball. I felt that no pitcher would serve up pitches to Mark McGuire just to help the White race along. We debated until we almost fought, and then it occurred to me that he was much larger than me, so I invited him to work out with me. From that point on, we were almost inseparable. In the gym, on the basketball court, and working together side-by-side at a call center where we made outbound calls convincing people to sign up for Newport News.
Adam (non-wing mate) – Adam was the funkiest white kid I have ever met. We teamed up to record the “ORU SLIM SHADY” together, which got me kicked out of college. Adam was rail thin and an incredible rapper. We had good times promoting dance parties and recording music together. Adam had an insatiable hunger, and it was always entertaining to watch him eat hot wings. Adam drove a new Acura sports car in college, and it was the nicest vehicle that I had ever ridden in. It was inspirational to me because it gave me something to shoot for.
Vanessa (non-wing mate but soon-to-be-life mate) – Vanessa was (and still is) a beautiful brunette. She was an official Oral Roberts University cheerleader. You know, the ones who do double flips over hard surfaces without wearing helmets. She has strikingly gorgeous eyebrows and eyes, and she has this odd sage-like-business-coaching quality about her. In fact, she introduced me to the word sage. This walking Dr. Laura-encyclopedia was level headed and the most determined woman that I had ever met. She insisted on eating gerbil-sized meals comprised of non-meat-type foods. She has “guns” (muscular biceps), and is the perfect combination of beauty and power for a man like me.
Essentially, my college experience was shaped by the guys listed above and the relationship that I developed with Vanessa, who is now my wife.
“Knowledge without application is meaningless.” – THOMAS EDISON
Don’t let this business coach post be worth less than your Social Security contributions in 30 years when adjusted for inflation. (Fun factoid: If you had contributed $50,000 into Social Security starting in 1978, you would need $168,864 as of 2008 to have the same buying power. Essentially if you did not triple the value of your money during that time period, you lost money.)
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