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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

100 Days of Gratitude, Day 7: It's Not Who You Know, It's Who Believes In You

Paul Helford, NAU November 1994
When I hear someone say, "I'm a selfmade man/woman," or... "No one gave me a thing," I know they are either lying or oblivious. Because no one succeeds alone. Everyone is helped in their journey by people who care about and believe in them enough to help them find opportunities. My life is filled with these people, much like yours is.

For me, one of these people is Paul Helford, who I called to thank for believing in me for all these years. Paul teaches many courses at Northern Arizona University including "The Art of Cinema," "Audio/Visual Storytelling," and "Screenwriting." This seems apropos considering Paul helped me set the stage for success and scripted a few pages of my future.

I invited Paul to dinner where I'll thank him for all he has done.  For now, I'll share just 3 ways he has demonstrated his belief in me.

He trusted that I was capable. When I was working my way through college, Paul always had "a new project" to discuss with me. They were diverse, exciting, challenging and sometimes a little scary. Paul would offer me these opportunities because he felt that I had the skills and motivation to be successful. (...and he was compassionate) I often arrived at his office to discuss a potential project with my 6 year old daughter in tow. Paul was always happy to see Whitney. He'd open his "snack drawer" filled with granola bars and let her pick something to enjoy. She'd watch cartoons as Paul and I discussed his ideas, projects and opportunities.


Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society Induction Nov 1994
He encouraged my leadership development. Paul has always seemed confident that if I was willing and eager to try something new, I would learn how to succeed. Paul helped me turn my "abundant confidence and foolish optimism" into meaningful leadership roles through his mentoring and friendship. Whether it was for small teams or larger clubs and organizations Paul provided opportunities for and supported my personal growth.

He enabled my "Big Switch" Career Change. Years later, after a successful career in corporate sales for national media research companies, I grew disillusioned and was faced with a choice regarding how I would write the next chapter of my life. It had to be fulfilling and significant. I needed to make a difference. Paul believed in me enough to help me earn a spot as an instructor at NAU where I taught communications, research, marketing, promotion and sales to hundreds of students each semester. This was an amazing experience and supported the instruction and education work I do now.

But the most significant impact Paul has had on my life, was that he gave my phone number to a friend of his who gave it to Alice Ferris, who hired me and later invited me to partner in her consulting firm, which we rebranded as GoalBusters Consulting. But "that" is a blog for another day.

Thank you for everything Paul! Not just for what you've meant to my family but for everything you've done for the thousands of students whose lives you've touched and for those you'll meet next semester.

PS: (Ok, I know I said 3, but I have one more way Paul helped me.)

Whitney, Jim & Justin - November 1994
He helped put food on my table.
In college, my ex-wife and I were "tag-team" parents, each working multiple part-time jobs while carrying heavy course loads and taking turns caring for our two children. It was always hard to make ends meet. Paul didn't know that I regularly visited a local food bank when he either hired me or helped me find employment projects. The "extra work" he helped me find, improved our quality of life and increased the happiness in our home with each time sheet I turned in. For this, I am also eternally grateful.


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