The Northwood Idea helps me find the right path
NOTE: A version of this essay was published in the March 2021 edition of When Free To Choose.
Growing up, I never wanted to go into “the family business.”
From a young age, my passion was always to help others. I believe that instinct came to me from my father and my grandfather, who also instilled in me a value system based on honor, respect, and hard work. Those principles served as the foundation as they built a successful business. I respected what they did, what they had accomplished, but I had a different path in mind.
I wanted to be a teacher. I hoped to be an asset to my community by helping generations of young people become educated, productive citizens. It is inspiring, if you think about it, the way that one person can impact so many lives. I wanted to have a positive impact.
I was also motivated by the help that I received growing up. I had to overcome dyslexia, and it was a very real struggle at times. I couldn’t have been successful without some wonderful teachers. I also couldn’t have done it without the support of my family.
I did work in the family business during high school, and I learned a lot. Because it was an auto dealership, I got to know a lot about cars and trucks. But I also discovered a great deal about business. I saw how much a successful business can impact the community. Satisfied customers. Productive employees. The self-respect that comes from a job well done.
Perhaps teaching wasn’t the only way for me to help people.
Right about that time is when I first learned about Northwood University. A client told me about Northwood, then convinced me to attend the annual Northwood University International Auto Show. For those of you who have been to The Show, as it’s called, you know how impressive it is. Even someone working in the car business like I was couldn’t help but be blown away by all the vehicles on display, and all the insight into different aspects of the industry. Even better, I got to meet lots of Northwood students, and hear their stories.
I was hooked. I decided right there to attend Northwood.
Like many new college students, I was hesitant to get involved when I first arrived on campus. Advisors always tell students to look for ways to connect with others, and to find engaging activities. It sounds good, but it isn’t always easy. In time, though, I developed a close circle of friends. And as my academic career progressed, I became active with a rich variety of groups and experiences, including Business Professionals of America, Kappa Sigma fraternity and its Executive Council, signature event teams, serving as a student ambassador, Auto Teacher Aid, and many more.
Combined with the hands-on learning approach that makes Northwood’s academic style so unique, these experiences helped me to master the basic business principles I need to succeed and to grow with my family’s company. Along the way, it has also allowed me to connect with Northwood’s vast network of alumni, which is a great benefit when seeking opportunities such as internships.
And I found something else that I could connect with: The Northwood Idea.
At its core, The Northwood Idea is built around some basic beliefs:
- The advantages of an entrepreneurial, free-enterprise society
- Individual freedom and individual responsibility
- Functioning from a foundation of ethics and integrity
- Promoting and leveraging the global, diverse, and multi-cultural nature of enterprise
As I learned about these core beliefs and explored their full meaning with faculty and fellow students, I began to see them in the context of my real-world experiences. I put them into practice in my everyday life. I applied them to the operations of general business.
The more I experienced all these things, the more I fully understood the power of The Northwood Idea.
Inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of The Northwood Idea, I now have a five-year plan for my life. I intend to immerse myself in the educational and personal growth opportunities at Northwood as I complete my bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2023. From there, I hope to take a prominent role in the family business, expanding the number of stores we operate and their positive impact on the community. I now see that purposeful capitalism is a viable way for me to achieve the goals I had from my early years: to help people and to make the world a better place.