Monday, May 12, 2008

Dream Big

In my traditional Monday morning reading, I checked out Peter King's blog on SI.com as I always do. You could say his blog is a bit of the inspiration behind my feeble attempts at this site. Nonetheless, he has a pretty good scoop on the NFL, and his column is priceless come fantasy football season.

Erin and I are headed up to see Erin's sister Meghan graduate at PSU this weekend. PSU holds a special place in our hearts since this is where we met in B-school. At the time, we both wanted to go to better business schools, but we both didn't want to take on the additional debt of $100K. (There's something about spending money to make the equivalent or less that goes against the laws we've studied as finance professionals.) When I look back at some of the truly best moments in our life together, we realize how that decision was the most important one in our lives, for all the reasons we certainly didn't know at the time.

Getting back to Peter King's column, in today's addition, he cites Mike Tomlin, and the speech he recently gave to graduates at Virginia Military Institute and William and Mary, his Alma mater. Mike Tomlin is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He replaced the legendary Bill Cowher, and follows in a long line of coaching greats there in Pittsburgh like Chuck Knoll.

However, what I find inspirational about Mike is not that he's one of the few African-American head coaches in a predominately white club, but that he comes from such a humble background. Tomlin is a guy who's toiled and paid his dues, and never worried about how much he was going to make but that he believed in his dream and the sacrifices he made to get there. All of that hard work has landed him in one of the most lucrative positions in football. His commencement speeches, given without notes Peter King points out, should be mandatory reading for all, graduates and the like. Life is hard, and takes a lot of work to be successful as so often is measured by those around you. Lots bitch about the money they don't have, or give up and live off their parents, but the truly successful and happy people take all that energy and make something out of their lives. There was a great line in the Sopranos. Tony Soprano, in a weak moment, asks his poor Russian immigrant cleaning lady why he's so miserable and why she's always so happy. And she replies matter-of-factly, "it's because you Americans wake up expecting to be rich."

I had never heard of Mike Tomlin before his appointment as head coach last year. He's an inspiration that hard work, dreaming and patience are the forces behind realized dreams. I put him up there with one of my true inspirations, my mom, who basically raised four of us by herself. Mike is almost as tough as she is.

Peter King's Column on Tomlin is here.

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