A Growing Chapter, A Growing Need
Bob Walters Jr. ’87 Gives Back to Michigan Gamma
Convinced he would enjoy being a member of ΣAE, Bob Walters Jr. ’87 joined his friends in Michigan Gamma and began creating memories that would one day turn into unforgettable stories. Amongst the many stories that can’t be told, some of Bob’s favorite times in Michigan Gamma were the days he spent simply spending time with brothers at the chapter house. “Crazy stories aside, my fondest memories are just hanging out around the chapter house with some of the best people I’ve ever had the privilege of getting to know,” he said.
With a desire to give back to the chapter that provided him years of fond memories and lifelong friends (and the general strong-arming from Mike Kamish ’86), Bob donated to the A New Chapter in Michigan Gamma’s Legacy, Realizing the Bill Fiscus Vision campaign. “I count my ΣAE experiences and friends to be some of the best in my life and I wanted others to have the same experience. A fraternity chapter is about the young men who make up the chapter, but having a house they can be proud of is key as well. To alumni who have yet to contribute, write a check before Kamish gets to you,” Bob joked.
For 20 years, Bob has worked for Quicken Loans, his responsibilities growing alongside the expansion of the company. When Bob began his career with the company, Quicken Loans had about 250 team members; today, there are 16,000. Bob serves as the president and chief operating officer of the company and oversees the day-to-day operations of the business, focusing on the strategic planning and leveraging synergies between various operational teams. “It’s been, and continues to be, a great ride,” he said.
Each year, Bob and a group of brothers make an effort to get together and reminisce their undergraduate years. Alongside Quicken Loans, Bob is also the president of the board of directors for the American Promise Schools, a nonprofit charter management organization founded to transform struggling urban schools into high-performing institutions. Bob lives in Orchard Lake, Mich., and can be reached at email@example.com.
Father and Son Donate to Michigan Gamma
Mark McManus Sr. ’66 Reflects on His Cherished Years in ΣAΕ
After studying abroad his sophomore year, Mark McManus Sr. ’66 returned to East Lansing where he was encouraged to join Michigan Gamma through friends who joined the previous year. Reflecting on his undergraduate years, Mark remembers the many laughs he shared with brothers and, of course, getting ready before a Saturday morning football game and sitting with his date in the block of the stadium with his brothers. Providing brothers similar opportunities was Mark’s motivation to contribute toward Michigan Gamma’s capital campaign.
“My experience in the fraternity was such a major event in my life that I wanted to assist in providing that same experience to the current group of young men and those to follow,” he said. “Alumni commitment to the campaign is directly related to their experience in the fraternity. Everyone has their personal reasons for giving or not giving, but if they cherished their years in the fraternity and the lasting friendships that have carried through to the present, I would hope they would like to allow the young men at Michigan State to experience that same opportunity by giving to the campaign.”
In 1988, Mark felt a tremendous amount of pride when his son, Mark McManus Jr. ’90, followed in his footsteps and joined ΣΑΕ. Throughout the years, Mark Sr. has befriended many of Mark Jr.’s friends and he encourages current undergraduates to develop lasting friendships with their brothers. “Michigan Gamma opened my eyes to the value of personal relationships that, as it has turned out, have lasted a lifetime. During your years living in the house, make certain to make an effort to create as many friendships as possible with your brothers,” he advises active members.
Mark Sr. has been in the for-profit education space for more than 30 years, starting in the IT industry in 1992. Today, he is the chairman and founder of MedCerts, an online school providing education programs that lead to a national certification in the medical field. Along with Mark’s love of business and providing education for those at the bottom of the ladder as they being their careers, he also enjoys playing golf and tennis. Mark and his wife of 50 years, Sherry, also have two daughters, Kelly and Heather, and seven grandchildren. Mark lives in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Naples, Fla., and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Lasting Legacy
House Director Sara Miller Impressed with Collegiate Brothers
Nearly 23 years after graduating from Michigan State University, Sara Miller returned to East Lansing and began her new adventure as a house director. Beginning at her old stomping grounds, Sara served as house director for Delta Gamma and in fall 2016 began her role at Michigan Gamma. “This is my first year serving as house director for a fraternity,” she said. “There is definitely a difference between being a housemother for a sorority and a fraternity, but I don’t think I’d change it.”
Before returning to her alma mater, Sara worked in the purchasing and supply chain management field. Growing tired of the political environment of the business world, she changed jobs and found herself looking for a job she’d enjoy. “I thought, if I’m going to get grey hairs, I might as well get them while I’m enjoying my work,” she said. “My goal is to create an environment that is a bridge from the life in a dorm to the real world life they will live in upon graduation.”
Sara does not have any children of her own, but Michigan Gamma has given her 148 adopted sons. In her first year with the chapter, she has enjoyed getting to know the members, decorating for the holidays, and decorating a float for Homecoming with fellow house directors. “I have a wonderful and respectful group of gentlemen,” she said. “Michigan Gamma is a unique and diverse group and I’m learning each day what makes them so special.”
In this role, Sara oversees tradesmen and other Michigan Gamma staff members, keeps their social activities under control, and does anything she can to make the chapter a little better each day. Additionally, she notes any bumps and bruises that come along with the completed renovation, and keeps track of any adjustments that need to be made to keep the chapter house beautiful and the envy of all other chapters on campus. Sara also takes feedback from active brothers to make sure everyone living in the chapter house has a comfortable and enjoyable experience. “There is nothing I’d like more than to see my boys get Chapter of the Year because I think they are really top notch,” she said. “I truly love living here and hope the chapter feels the same way.”
With spring graduation approaching, Sara knows how hard it will be to say goodbye to any seniors. Although the dynamics of the chapter change each year, she can’t help but wish members well and hope their experience in Michigan Gamma is one they will look back on and say it was an experience that changed their lives for the better. “What you do today impacts the lives of the ones you interact with, so remember that setting a good example for those who follow will someday set the example for those that come after them,” she advises. “You are helping to shape and create a legacy that will last forever; make it something that you can always be proud of.”
Every Contribution Counts
Why Bill Cesaroni ’68 Supports Michigan Gamma
Hoping to provide undergraduates with the same opportunities he received during his college years was motivation for Bill Cesaroni ’68 to support A New Chapter in Michigan Gamma’s Legacy, Realizing the Bill Fiscus Vision campaign. He was confident in donating after meeting Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s Eminent Supreme Archon, Steven W. Churchill, Iowa State ’85, and being not only impressed, but assured that his donation would be invested into the chapter house. “I felt like I received a great deal from my time in Michigan Gamma and having a chapter house is vital to recruitment,” he said.
During his undergraduate years, Bill was one of two ΣΑΕ brothers whose fathers worked blue-collar jobs. Bill felt as if his brothers were always welcoming and never judgmental of how much money he did or didn’t have. In fact, although he wasn’t as affluent as most of the chapter, Bill was unaware of the economic differences between himself and his brothers until years after graduation. The acceptance he received from Michigan Gamma serves as one of his most significant memories during his time as an undergraduate. “No one ever made me feel inferior to them,” he said.
Bill has been the founder and president of his product design company, Cesaroni Design, for the past 36 years. While he was a student, the majority of Michigan Gamma brothers were business majors, and Bill, being an industrial design major, learned about business classes through his brothers. “It is because of them that I developed an appreciation for a business education and decided to minor in the subject,” he said.
When looking back at his time in ΣΑΕ, Bill had a positive experience with no regrets, and he looks forward to visiting the campus for Homecoming this fall. Bill and his wife, Jessica, live in Glenview, Ill., and are proud, first-time grandparents. Bill can be reached at email@example.com.
Friendships that Last a Lifetime
Why Christopher J. Mundy ’96 Supports the Campaign
When you think about the many life milestones you’ve had—graduation, weddings, children being born, new jobs—who is it that you remember sharing them with? For many of us, the answer is our Michigan Gamma brothers. This is certainly the case for Christopher J. Mundy ’96, and these friendships and memories are what motivated him to support A New Chapter in Michigan Gamma’s Legacy, Realizing the Bill Fiscus Vision campaign.
In 1992, Chris came to Michigan State and was immediately drawn to Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He was impressed with their reputation as leaders on campus and with the quality of men he met, such as Mike Wade ’95, during the recruitment process. “I saw that they had many of the same values and ideals as I did. I knew that this was an organization that I wanted to be a part of.”
Over the years, Chris’s connection with the fraternity and his brothers has only grown stronger. After graduation, he had the opportunity to work at ΣΑΕ headquarters for nine years. “My experiences at the national office deepened my perspective of what the fraternity could offer. Now I want to ensure that future members have those same opportunities.” He is enthusiastic about the growth the campaign offers for Michigan Gamma and future ΣΑΕs.
Knowing that the campaign success depends on the alumni as a whole, he encourages his fellow alumni to remember their own experiences and the positive impact the fraternity had on their lives. “Think about what your brothers and experiences in ΣΑΕ are worth to you,” he shares. “You can’t put a monetary value on them.”
Recently, Chris was featured in Chicago Agent Magazine for his successful career in real estate. “I saw this as validation of the hard work I have invested in my career. It was a big honor for me.” He has enjoyed the opportunity to not only service the needs of his individual clients, but also work with others in the industry. “Real estate is my profession, but helping people is my passion.”
Chris encourages younger alumni and undergraduates to focus on networking and cultivating relationships with alumni and others in their fields. “It’s important to have a genuine interest and relationship. Networking only works if you nurture the relationships you create.” You can connect with Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Opportunity to Give Back
Why Dennis Brodeur ’85 Supports ΣΑΕ
The personal growth experienced, leadership opportunities afforded, and lifelong friendships made in Sigma Alpha Epsilon are just a few of the many reasons Dennis Brodeur ’89 is supporting A New Chapter in Michigan Gamma’s Legacy, Realizing the Bill Fiscus Vision. In recent years, Sigma Alpha Epsilon has grown to be a top chapter on campus. They have excelled academically, philanthropically, and socially. But in order for Michigan Gamma to remain competitive, it is vital that renovations be made to the chapter house.
“This campaign is an essential step in continuing the legacy of Michigan Gamma. It will give the brothers added pride in their fraternity, potential new members a positive first impression of the chapter, and the alumni a renewed interest and participation in future chapter events,” notes Dennis. As Greek life at Michigan State continues to grow, competition for attracting the best and brightest members has only increased. The renovations will allow the chapter a competitive edge when it comes to recruitment.
Knowing that the campaign success depends on the alumni as a whole, he encourages other brothers to support the campaign for Michigan Gamma. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As we all look back, the chapter played a major role in our college experience, creating unforgettable memories and lifelong friendships. This is a chance for us to give back and help advance Michigan Gamma.” The campaign not only offers the opportunity to give back to the chapter, but also the chance to leave your mark on the future of Michigan Gamma.
“Joining ΣΑΕ was one of the best decisions of my college days,” shares Dennis. He and his brother, Fred Brodeur ’88, pledged after spending a summer working with Bill Borre ’86 on Mackinac Island. “It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since I pledged ΣΑΕ.” Dennis recalls fondly one summer when 12 of the Michigan Gamma brothers all worked together Mackinac Island.
Now, he is reliving his Michigan Gamma experiences through his son, Jack ’18. “I enjoy knowing that he is having fun and creating lifelong bonds while having many of the same experiences that I had in the chapter.” He has reconnected with many of the brothers from his era and encourages others to renew their own connections. “The great thing is that you can go years without seeing each other and pick up right where you left off.”
Today, Dennis is a senior vice president and wealth management specialist at Raymond James and Associates. He and his wife, Shelly, live in Traverse City, Michigan, and have three children: Jack (20), Abby (18), and Ella (15). “The more alumni that make the pledge, the more alumni that get back involved with the chapter. The pledge donation is just the beginning; in the coming years, we can vastly improve alumni involvement and fellowship at Michigan Gamma.” You can connect with Dennis at email@example.com.
Christopher J. Mundy Featured in Chicago Agent Magazine
Christopher Mundy has proven that he’s a survivor when it comes to keeping his business strong through the 2008-2012 real estate recession. When the recession hit in the fall of 2008, he had only been in the business for three short years. Chris sustained business success through the market correction, demonstrating that his dedication to the well-being of each client would lead to future success.
“The downturn eliminated a lot of brokers from the business, but showing my clients and peers that I could survive proved critical,” he says. “I never missed the chance to seize the moment, so when the market finally turned in 2013, it led to a record year with more than $25 million in sales.”
That is not to say he hasn’t had successful years in the past. Since 2005, the Chicago Association of Realtors has recognized Mundy as a top producer. He was also awarded@properties’ “Hardest Working Agent” award in 2010, has been the recipient of the Five Star Award since 2011 (which fewer than seven percent of Chicago agents receive) and was a “Road to the Rolex” recipient in 2013.
“My family values are at the core of my success: honesty, integrity and treating others how you would like to be treated – then treating them even better,” says the @properties top 50 agent. “I also have to credit my mentor, Brent Stack (former Koenig & Strey top broker). Brent shared all of his practical experience, trusted contacts and knowledge of the market, and leveraged my enthusiasm and willingness to learn. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with him, and would not be where I am today without his guidance.”
Today, Chris is assisting buyers, sellers and investors in both Chicago and the suburbs. His expertise includes knowledge of the luxury market, new construction, property valuation and negotiation. His success has led to speaking opportunities at Chicago’s Money Smart Week and feature stories in CS magazine.
“I love being able to educate others on real estate trends and the Chicago market; having each client’s trust in making such a sizable life decision is paramount,” he says. “Real estate is my profession, but helping people is my passion.”
Now It’s Our Turn
Steve Hickman ’64 on Giving Back to ΣΑΕ
When Stephen Hickman ’64 came to Michigan State, he knew that he wanted to be a part of the Greek system because fraternities could provide opportunities and experiences that he would not receive anywhere else. “ΣΑΕ was the chapter that impressed me most and I was fortunate to receive a bid,” he shares.
Steve’s fraternity experiences afforded him important skills and lessons that prepared him for the world after college. “ΣΑΕ gave me confidence in myself, friendships that have lasted throughout my life, and valuable instruction in behavior and responsibility.” His memories and friendships from his undergraduate years remain with him today. He shares that the pledge classes of 1963-65 planned their first reunion together in 1994 and have continued that tradition in years since. “I strongly encourage other pledge classes to follow our lead and organize their own reunions.”
It is these memories and lessons that motivated Steve to give to A New Chapter in Michigan Gamma’s Legacy. “I gave so that others may enjoy the same opportunities I had.” He knows that in order to achieve success, though, it is important for as many alumni as possible to support the campaign. “Someone before us sacrificed so that we could enjoy the benefits of ΣΑΕ. Now it’s our turn. Giving back to the chapter fulfills a responsibility that we have to Michigan Gamma.”
Steve owns Brazeway Inc., a company that produces tubing, evaporators, and condensers for the air-conditioning and refrigeration industries worldwide. He has enjoyed the opportunity to build his company and provide opportunities for others. His time with ΣΑΕ helped him figure out what he loved and how he could make that into a career. He encourages undergraduates to take advantage of the same opportunities
He and his wife, Sally, live in Adrian, Michigan, and have two daughters, Tracy and Stephanie. Steve communicates regularly with a dozen of his ΣΑΕ brothers and they get together every couple of years. This year, they met in Carmel, California, in September. You can connect with Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keeping the Momentum Going
Why Mike Kamish ’86 Gave to Michigan Gamma
In recent years, Sigma Alpha Epsilon has been a top chapter on Michigan State’s campus. They have been gaining a positive momentum that seems as though it has no bounds. This is one of the many reasons that Mike Kamish ’86 is supporting A New Chapter in Michigan Gamma’s Legacy.
Mike has remained involved with Michigan Gamma Chapter since graduating nearly 20 years ago. He has served on the house corporation board, the alumni advisory board, and now serves on the campaign board. Mike’s motivation to give back to comes from his desire to keep the future of Michigan Gamma strong. “I want to ensure that future young men have the same opportunities and experiences that I had through ΣΑΕ and give back for what the fraternity gave me. Our involvement with the chapter shouldn’t end after graduation.”
Mike is enthusiastic about the campaign and what it means for the future of the chapter. “The renovations to the house are long overdue. I think a campaign like this to strengthen the physical aspects of the house will support the ongoing membership itself, as well as benefit the individuals and the university community as well.”
Knowing that the campaign success depends on the alumni as a whole, he encourages other alumni to support the campaign for Michigan Gamma. “It’s an easy contribution to make in that there are many avenues of support and every little bit helps.” The campaign offers different levels of investment, various payment options, and will make an impact on the future of Michigan Gamma.
Mike keeps in close contact with many of his ΣΑΕ brothers today. “Ironically, seeing everyone now, outside of college days, keeping in touch with everyone, and seeing people at football games are my favorite memories.” He also remains involved because he values the Greek system. “I think that the fraternity experience is important. It played a positive role in my education and I think the Greek system is something that should be supported in general.”
He and his wife, Kris, live in Beverly Hills, Michigan, where Mike is a strategic account executive. They have a son, Kieran, who is 11 years old. You can connect with Mike at email@example.com.
Michigan Gamma Redefines T.R. Hollis ’13
T.R. Hollis ’13 had no interest in joining a fraternity when he came to Michigan State. “I was very hesitant because from the preconceived ideas I had about fraternities, it was not something I thought would be beneficial to me.” It wasn’t until after he received his bid that he bought into fraternity life. “The bonds and friendships I have created since joining are simply priceless and the leadership experience I have gained is unmeasurable.”
Right away T.R. became active in Michigan Gamma, running for social chairman after being initiated. He enjoyed the new perspectives and challenges that came with being the voice and social coordinator for SAE. Learning about the history and rituals and meeting countless inspiring alumni and brothers has strengthened T.R’s pride in being a member of Michigan Gamma.
After graduation T.R knows that he will stay connected with Michigan Gamma. “Why would you want to lose contact with such a strong network of guys and some of the best years of your life? Since our re-chartering, Michigan Gamma has been achieving amazing feats on all levels and we want each and every alumnus to be a part of our success and growth.” T.R. plans to partake in all alumni events for years to come.
“I am so thankful for the amazing memories I was able to be a part of because of SAE,” including the unforgettable summer of 2013 he spent working on Lake Charlevoix with four SAE brothers.
T.R. enjoys traveling, boating, mediocre golf, and an occasional cigar. Get in touch with T.R. via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gordon Johnson ’60 Thankful for SAE Opening His Horizons
A: As a student athlete enrolled in engineering, I felt my college experience needed to be more than a closed cycle of class, study, wrestling practice, and working the odd jobs necessary to cover personal expenses. Joining the SAE chapter was all about the guys in the house. I rushed quite a few fraternities and I felt the SAEs had the most balanced and well-blended membership with good students, athletes, and men active in campus activities.
Q: Tell me a bit about your career.
A: I earned a BS in civil engineering at Michigan State and went on to get my MBA at the University of Chicago. Upon receiving my MBA, I worked in sales for Union Carbide Corporation and then at IBM. In 1973 I started a business providing pre-press production services to the major college textbook publishers in the U.S. We sold the business in 2005 to a British textbook publisher. At that time we had approximately 450 employees with offices in California, Utah, and New Delhi, India.
Q: What advice do you have for today’s undergraduates?
A: Try to live a balanced life. Take care of your body and your mind; you only get one of each so take care of them. Don’t overdo it in any area where it creates an imbalance to your life. It is not an easy task, but not all that difficult either.
Q: How did SAE impact who you are today?
A: Having grown up in the inner city of Chicago, I had a limited view of the world. My experiences with my fraternity brothers opened my horizons and were every bit as important as what I learned academically. Seeing the lives they had at home and what their parents had accomplished helped me set goals for myself that I would not have dreamed of had I not had the experience.
Q: Have you kept in touch with your Michigan Gamma brothers?
A: I have kept in touch with my old roommates and closest friends from the SAE house and when we get together or talk on the phone, it’s like time has stood still. When I retired I took the opportunity to reach out and to reconnect, which has been gratifying.
Q: What is life like for you today?
A: I have been married to Diane for almost 50 years. We have two children, Scott and Michaelyn, and two grandchildren, Reese (10) and Aiden (7), with one more on the way in October.
I play a lot of golf and am working hard to keep a high single digit handicap. I play senior softball (slow pitch) in tournaments, and enjoy tennis and cycling.
Reach out to Gordon via e-mail at email@example.com.
SAE Impacts the Life of Fred Kleisner ’66
The motto “what we are to be we are now becoming” hung over the fireplace in the chapter house during the ’60s. It was this saying that attracted Fred Kleisner ’66 to Michigan Gamma and has become a driving force behind all he does. “SAE seemed the best place to achieve a level of balance. The brothers knew the importance of balancing education and social achievement. I was in my formative years, so this seemed to be a good place to be.”
Throughout his successful career in the hospitality business, the balance between having fun and getting work done has been vital. “My first rule as CEO has always been ‘have fun.’” His four-decade hotelier/corporate CEO/COO career includes leading management teams in nearly every hospitality sector, including the Waldorf Astoria and the Hilton Hawaii Village. Today he focuses on sitting on five public company boards of directors and serving as independent director of Caesar’s Entertainment.
Fred is still thankful for SAE’s role in his career. Perhaps most importantly, SAE helped Fred develop a sense of “we.” “These days, too many executives think the most important word is ‘I’. SAE brought me to a point where I knew how to develop and motivate highly diverse teams of individuals to a common goal. The spirit of ‘we’ at the chapter house brought out my need to be a motivator.”
While he enjoyed chapter house events like ski weekends at This Old House, the indoor hayride, casino, beach-themed parties, and getting engaged on a double bowling date, today Fred enjoys different activities for fun. He is involved in wilderness skills and ethics through the National Outdoor Leadership School which has taken him from Patagonia to the Arctic Circle to Prince William Sound, and is an avid cyclist and triathlete.
Fred has been a proud member of Michigan Gamma ever since his first days walking around Michigan State feeling happy to be a part of an organization that was considered the best on campus. “We have a marvelous group of young brothers at Mich Gamma. For those who have found they are successful in life, there are many ways to give back. Much of my success comes from being accepted into SAE, and I have greatly enjoyed giving back to them.”
Fred and his wife of 48 years, Johnna, live on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and have two sons, two daughters, six grandsons, and one granddaughter. Contact Fred via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alumnus Wins Coaching Awards
Michael Jolly ’66 Values Confidence and Leadership Learned from his SAE Brothers
As a third-term sophomore, Mike Jolly ’66 may have joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon later in his college career than most of his brothers, but he certainly made the most of his time in the chapter house. From helping win the Inter-Fraternity All Sports Championship to participating in Greek Week’s “Jr. 500,” and serving as the chapter president, he is grateful for his time at Michigan Gamma and continues to pass the legacy along.
Since graduating from Michigan State University in 1966 Mike has had a successful coaching career in football, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse. He started his coaching career as an assistant frosh football coach and has since coached lacrosse and football at two universities and four high schools, been included in five halls of fame, received the U.S. Lacrosse National Man of the Year Award, the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s National Assistant Coach of the Year Award, and the U.S. Lacrosse Gerald Carroll Exemplary Coach Award. Mike credits much of his coaching success to his foundation at Michigan Gamma. “SAE polished my social skills, provided great leadership training, and practical, daily, leadership opportunities. Michigan Gamma also enhanced my self-confidence and greatly enlarged my support group of solid, genuine friends,” he said. “Athletics was a big part of our cohesiveness as a fraternity. I did not start out with coaching on my career path, but college changed that.”
Mike has continued to use his SAE foundation in every aspect of his life. “The True Gentleman remains a great credo by which to live and the words are still framed on my wall and etched in my memory.” He encourages both alumni and undergraduate members to use the creed to continue to rebuild the chapter. “Pledge good people and set high standards. If you live by the True Gentlemen creed you can’t go wrong. You can use it in any and all aspects of your life. The kids I coach see it on the wall of my office whenever they enter,” he said. “Those who later become SAEs share something with me much greater than an organization or a handshake.”
Mike has two points of advice for undergraduate members: choose a career path in a field that you love and associate with high performance people and learn from them. “If you love what you do you never have to go to ‘work’ and you will be good enough to make a living at it,” he said. “I was incredibly fortunate, even in high school, to be surrounded by good people. If you associate yourself with great people, they will help you and support you.”
Mike and his wife, Mary Gay, live in Clinton Township, Michigan; they have been married for 40 years and have raised seven sons together. In his free time, Mike enjoys shooting, hunting, reading and, of course, family. Contact him at email@example.com.
Alumnus Inspires Today’s Leaders
Jim Kouzes ’67 Shares The Leadership Challenge with Michigan Gamma
Jim Kouzes ’67 became interested in leadership at a young age. His family lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and he saw the effect strong leaders could make on a daily basis. After graduating from Michigan State University in 1967 he joined the Peace Corps, where he discovered his passion for teaching. That passion led to a career in leadership education at three different universities and two consulting firms. It was at one of his university posts, Santa Clara University, that he met his co-author, Barry Posner. Their first research collaboration led to the finding that personal values drive commitment. The two have since sold more than two million copies of their award-winning book, The Leadership Challenge, and have co-authored more than 30 other successful publications.
Jim’s work is evidence-based leadership. It is based on solid research and dispels many of the myths about leadership, offering examples of real leaders doing real things in real time. While there are many important guiding principles throughout his books, Jim’s two main pieces of advice about successful leadership are to always be clear about what where you are going, and that credibility is the foundation of leadership. “If people don’t believe in the messenger they won’t believe the message. Personal credibility is vitally important to every leader. Whenever we are leading a group we need to do a credit check on ourselves. Do they consider me competent to do my job? Do they consider me trustworthy? Do they see me as being passionate about our cause?” Jim adds that “Behaviorally credibility is defined as: do as you say you will do.”
Jim and Barry suggest that individuals who strive to be successful leaders should make a sign to hang over their desks with the letters “DWYSYWD.” It serves as a constant reminder to Do What You Say You Will Do. “When constituents observe leaders, they look at their behavior and see if they follow through. Remember that it’s your personal credibility upon which people are basing their willingness to follow you.”
Jim’s and Barry’s research extends beyond the qualities people look for in their leaders. For the last 30 years they’ve been examining what people actually do to lead at their best. Their model involves these Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership:
- Model the way. Clarify your values and set an example.
- Inspire a shared vision. Envision the future and enlist others in a common vision.
- Challenge the process. Search for opportunities to grow and improve and experiment and take risks, learning from mistakes.
- Enable others to act. Foster collaboration, teamwork, and trust and also strengthen others by building their capacity to do their work.
- Encourage the heart. Recognize individuals for their contributions and celebrate as a team.
Because of their university teaching and daily involvement with students their work on The Leadership Challenge evolved into The Student Leadership Challenge. They find that the message is equally relevant to emerging leaders. Jim recently made a donation of these books to the Michigan Gamma undergraduate members. “I would encourage new brothers to reflect on what their role is on campus. If SAE wants to live on, it needs to ask itself what it can do for others. If we want to grow leaders for the future we need to begin now.”
Jim ends every speech he gives with the same message—the secret to success in life which he learned from Major General John Stanford. “The secret to success is stay in love. If you stay in love with the people you lead, the organization, the clients and customers, the community…you can get extraordinary things done on a daily basis. Leadership is not an affair of the head; it is an affair of the heart.”
Jim lives in Orinda, California, with his wife, Tae Kyung. Their son, Nicholas, is a screenwriter in the Los Angeles area. He is an avid golfer and a dedicated tennis fan. He still works full time, devoting half his energies to writing and half to speaking around the country. Contact Jim by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.leadershipchallenge.com.