Q: What was the main reason you chose to major in psychology?
A: When I was in junior high, I wanted to become dentist. This is what I thought throughout high school. I had a friend who was a dentist and I accompanied him to banquets and truly thought that this was what I wanted to do. So I went to the U, but after a little less than two years of schooling ran out of money. The Vietnam War started drafting, and being that I dropped out of school because I was broke, I ended up in army and after doing my time got out. I still wanted to go to dental school, but thought I was too old to start that process since I still needed to finish a four-year degree. But I started college again – I originally chose sociology but then found that my true interest was psychology.
Q: How did psychology prepare you for your career today?
A: The way I use relationships and meet people today has been the largest piece I have taken from my psychology degree. Psychology was the best decision I could have made for where I am today. I have a friend just down the street and we are still good friends today, and the communication skills that my psychology degree gave me makes keeping that relationship, and many others, possible. I meet people- men, women, old, young… I have great relationships with people that are one-third my age- that is the beauty of psychology. You solve their work problems, you become their friend and you keep that friend.
Q: Did your time in the U.S. army shape your decision to major in psychology? If so, how?
A: Nope, not really. But I can say that the U gave me the skills to use my psychology for communication- personal communication, and gave me an opportunity to express myself and be creative. After college, I originally did not want to go into sales, but thought that I could probably find something in sales if needed. I was dating my wife Ann at the time, and was working nights at Mounds Park hospital in a Psych ward. I found, through a friend, a job working in transportation, which would have cut my salary from 235 to 180 dollars. I ended up taking it because I wanted to make a change. I took a chance, and found out that I was good at sales and that I was bringing in a lot of business to the company. Eventually, I began working under commission, and have worked for seven different transportation companies before starting my own.
Q: In your line of work, communication and customer service are imperative. Do you believe that your psychology background has enabled you to interact with and understand people more efficiently than, say, a background in chemistry?
A: Yes. Working in sales is about asking questions about what the customer needs, you keep showing up and creating communication. You create a reliable connection with the person, ask for a problem and solve it for the customers and eventually build a relationship. They will have confidence in you and that’s how you will build a business. By building those bridges.
Q: Would you major in psychology again if you could go back to the U today?
A: Absolutely, not even a question. Most parents want their kids to learn a trade, but there are a lot of people in high-ranking jobs with liberal education because they are well rounded- high executives are not always business majors- they put their liberal education to good use by applying themselves and the many skills they have learned with their degree.
Q: Why do you believe, if you do believe, in the importance of liberal arts degrees?
A: The doors are wide open- how you apply yourself in a liberal arts education is up to you- its in your future. It’s all about applying yourself and having skills communicating and working towards something to succeed. Education is just the beginning. You spent 4 years getting an education- you can’t give up now. You have to get that first job, but keep applying yourself because you never know where it may lead you, just like the long road I’ve taken to get where I am.
Q: Lynn shared with me that you were diagnosed with ALS a year ago. Is there anything that you have found to be indispensible from your college career that has prepared you for this process?
A: Well, it becomes your whole make up. My Dad says that I don’t complain but actually I do. The truth is that this is an awful illness- there is no cure. I’m able to work once or twice a week and it is so gratifying, it is an escape. I enjoy it so much, and being able to work helps me feel normal. I get to communicate with my employees and it takes my mind off what is happening to me physically. That’s how the U has helped me.
Q: Anything else? Words of wisdom?
A: The reason I started enterprise freight is because I got sick of losing my job. Also, I left a job making 80,000 dollars a year because I didn’t like the people and did not enjoy it. People that are open-minded will find a way, just like I did. And forty years ago I found a way and I wouldn’t change a minute of it.
Just like water always gets where it’s going, it’s always going to reach the bottom, if you are open to change and passionate and know where you want and where you want to get to, you will. Life is a path, give it a try and the only way you can lose and not succeed is by not trying, and if you keep trying you will find a way.
In choosing a psychology degree: It’s like we have been using it all of our lives, using communication and communicating as babies if we were hungry, etc., now we just know how to use it in the world as adults and have the skills and education to put communication to good use.