Welcome to the Summer 2010 issue of IDEAS, Northwood University’s Enewsletter discussing the principles of our founding philosophy, The Northwood Idea, as they relate to enterprise, ethics, life, and liberty.

We are pleased to present the May 2010 Michigan Campus commencement addresses of Dr. James Farley, group vice president of marketing and communications, Ford Motor Company, who spoke at the morning ceremony, and U.S. Representative Dr. David Camp who spoke in the afternoon. The next issue of IDEAS will feature the commencement speech delivered at the Texas Campus by Dr. Dennis McCuistion.

Success vs. Significance

By Dr. James Farley

Today you're coming to a fork in the road and you've got a choice, to pursue success or to pursue significance.

As a marketer I've spent my life creating advertising and products designed to convince you that you'll be successful if you buy one.

The world around you, your friends, your classmates, maybe even your family encourage you to be successful.

Where does that all lead?

  • Can you name two gold medalists from the winter Olympics?
  • Who was the valedictorian at last year's graduation?
  • I recently asked an employee at Ford who the CEO was that led Ford out of the last major downturn – no chance.

Today you have a decision to make that will chart the course for the rest of your life.

Will you spend the next 30 years pursuing success or will it be significance?

  • I spent the better part of 18 years at Toyota pursuing success.
  • I had it all, a great job, a house near the beach, a beautiful wife, race cars and all kinds of "stuff." 
  • I completed triathlons, travelled the globe and made some good money.  It wasn't fulfilling.

That led me to make one of the craziest decisions a person could make:

Leaving the security of the nations #1 automaker for the management ranks of a struggling company. It took me 18 years to circle back to the fork.

  • It was time to shift my focus from success to significance.
  • It was time to take the focus off of me and place it on others – my wife, my children, my family, our dealers and the employees of Ford Motor Company.
  • Time to focus on doing something for my country and the future of my children.
  • Time to invest in others.

So what have I learned?

By focusing on others, teaching and developing employees, I learned the importance of significance and the results are amazing.

You've heard of the formula for success, here is my formula for significance:

  • Care more than others think you should.
  • Dream more than others think is possible – someone once asked Helen Keller, "what's worse than being blind?" Her answer? "Having no vision."
  • Risk more than others think is safe.
  • Expect more than others think is possible.
  • Dare to fail.

The last 2.5 years has taught me a lot, but nothing more important than this: Success will come as a by-product of significance.

  • Significance is permanent.
  • Leave a legacy.
  • Leave a mark on this world, invest in others and the returns will be overwhelming.
  • Think of others more highly than yourself and remember:
  • Being successful can buy you a house but it can’t buy you a home.
  • Being successful can buy you a bed, but it can't buy you a good night’s rest.
  • Being successful, can get you pleasure, but it can't give you joy.
  • Being successful will get you all kinds of companions, but significance will bring you true friends.
  • Leave a legacy.

Invest in others and you'll have significance.

Pursue Your Dreams and Never Give Up

Congressman Dave Camp

President Keith Pretty, members of the Board, Deans, Faculty, parents, family, friends ... and the Northwood University class of 2010...

I am honored to be a part of these ceremonies today.

Standing up here brings back a lot of memories of my college graduation.  I remember my parents and family sitting in the audience, I remember sitting with my friends.  I remember the parties, the gown and walking across the stage to get my degree.  I even remember how hot it was.  But for the life of me, I can’t recall a single thing my commencement speaker said.

I urge you to celebrate this day.  Enjoy this event and share with your friends and family your pride and sense of accomplishment.  But also give thanks for the great gift you’ve been given:  The chance to pursue your dreams.

To the faculty and administrators – you are to be commended.  There are few professions as honorable as the one you have chosen.

To the parents, spouses and families of these graduates, I say "you should be very proud."  It is your support, sacrifice and encouragement that has brought your loved one to this important day.

To the Northwood University class of 2010, I say "Congratulations."  You have the world before you and I urge you to take your place in it ... Starting today. 

Although the world can look intimidating right now – the EU is trying to keep Greece from financial collapse, and in many ways our own country is at a crossroads – We can get Michigan and America back on track.

And if we do, the rights and freedoms that have allowed the entrepreneurial spirit of America to thrive will continue to lift your generation, and those yet to come.

Michigan and America need your ideas, your energy, and your enthusiasm. This is your time, so take advantage of it.

Now, I wouldn’t be doing my job as your commencement speaker if I didn’t have at least some advice for you.  So, my message to you is simple, and one I want you to remember: First, never give up, and, second, do something.

Never give up:  The minute you allow a setback to get the best of you, you lose the fight.

And although we are cheering you on today as we should, know this: there are few applause lines in life.  There are many who will tell you it cannot be done.  There are many who will point out to you how you will fail.  There are many who will warn of the pitfalls that await you.  But how will you know until you’ve tried?

President Teddy Roosevelt said it this way:

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out where the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man and the woman who are actually in the arena..."

You will face rejection.  You will not get every job you apply for.  You will make mistakes.  These things will not define you or your success – it is how you deal with them that make the difference.

Consider this:

  • Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times and then went on to become one of the best-known movie directors of all time.
  • Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, received 30 rejections before being published, starting one of the best-selling careers of all time.
  • The first time Jerry Seinfeld walked out on stage at a comedy club, he was booed off. He returned the next night to try again, and went on to make Seinfeld, one of the highest-grossing TV shows of all time.
  • Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama lost their first attempts at federal office when they ran for Congress.

And, see if you can guess one man who experienced more adversity, more heartache and more setbacks than most.  Let me tell you a little bit about him:

  • His mother died of fever.
  • His first business ended in bankruptcy.
  • He was defeated in a campaign for the state legislature.
  • Soon after, his second business went bankrupt.
  • His girlfriend died suddenly of an illness.
  • He suffered a nervous breakdown, and was then defeated in his run for the United States Congress.
  • He also lost his first two elections for the U.S. Senate.
  • In his lifetime, he watched two sons become ill and die.

You may have guessed: These were just a few of the ups and downs in the life of Abraham Lincoln – our 16th President of the United States.  And one of the most highly regarded people to ever walk this planet.

And remember Lincoln’s words, "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing."

We must realize that in life there are no quick fixes.  Understand that the road to success is filled with failure.  Accept those setbacks ... learn from them ... and use that knowledge to strengthen your position.

My second piece of advice:  Do something.  And do something that contributes in a positive way. And one of my favorite Lincoln quotes: "Whatever you are, be a good one."

It seems to me that whenever we hear speakers talk to an audience of graduates like you, they call you "The Future."  They say the reason you are important is that you will inherit this planet from the generation before you.

You do represent the future of our country and society.  But you are also an important part of the present.  Do not accept the idea that your time is yet to come.  As I said earlier, your time is now.  If you make the decision that you want to play a role in setting the course of whatever you believe in, you can do so.

If you never take the chance, you’ll never be successful.  Nothing will come easily, and rarely will luck drop in your lap.  You have to want it, you have to believe in it, and you have to go for it.

Remember that successful people fail often.  How can you be successful and fail often?  You become successful by taking the right kind of risk.  Risk implies that you might fail.  Otherwise it would not be called risk-taking; it would be called sure-thing taking.   Babe Ruth hit 714 homeruns.  To put it another way, he struck out 1,330 times - almost twice as much.

According to Henry Longfellow, "Perseverance is a great element of success; if you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody."

Knock long, knock loudly, and knock often.  And remember, the career decision you make today, doesn’t have to be the one you stick with forever.  Be flexible as you go through life, for you will learn more about yourself, and your talents and goals may change.

There is nothing wrong with changing your dreams and goals.  But be sure that you have dreams and goals.  And make sure they are your own.

Comedian Bill Cosby said:  "I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."

It’s true ... the rest is now in your hands.  The faculty here on stage with me and your parents, friends and families in the audience have instilled in you the basic, critical elements of success.

Today is a commencement, a beginning of how you will define success in your lives. So...

  • Think big, because it is powerful. 
  • Believe big, because optimism is dynamic.  
  • Pray big, because God’s grace and blessings are there for those willing to receive them. 
  • And lastly, act big; because it is the best way to renew your spirit and keep alive our most storied tradition – the American Dream.

Thank you again for inviting me here today.  I wish you the best of luck as you set out to fulfill your dreams.  Now remember, never give up and go do something!

Thank you.

Commencement ceremonies provide one last official opportunity to congratulate students for a job well done.  We thank our commencement speakers for taking the time to inspire these young men and women as they launch their professional lives.

This concludes our Summer 2010 issue of IDEAS. If you prefer to receive a printed copy of this Enewsletter, please call the Advancement Office at 989.837.4356.

As usual, your comments and suggestions are most welcome and appreciated.


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO