What about an Intellectual Opportunity

by Brent M. Jones

Getting good grades had never been a problem for me before I went to college. I normally just remembered everything read or discussed and often could visualize something I had read word for word. The first two years of collage were a little more challenging because I didn’t attend a lot of the classes. I was busy wanting to get married, working several jobs at a time, and spending time with Kathy my future wife. 

Education was something I had taken for granted. I really didn’t understand what the difference would be in a more advanced educational environment. I had done a fair amount of reading growing up but was certainly not obsessed with book. About the same time that I got married I found two men that I knew through church who were in lot of my classes both having just been married. They were a few year older than I was and both had been in the National Guard with some military time and both had gone on missions for our church. Both men valued their grades, really studied hard and I was influenced for the good. We studied together and socialized as married couples together. My grades changed dramatically.

My marketing professor seemed to favor me with discussions and projects, and he invited me to a luncheon late in my Junior year. The luncheon was a way for him to get to know me better and to suggest some graduate work.  He had been impressed with a project I had put together to study a local food business and encouraged me to go onto graduate school.

I had several jobs at a time during my early collage years. I had worked at a local food distribution center since High School. I was impressed enough with what my marketing teacher presented to me that I went to the owners of the distribution company where I managed the night shift and told them I was going to quit because I wanted to be sure and finish my last two years with straight A’s. The promptly told me that if I would stay that they would make a desk available in the front office and all I had to do was to show up for the night shift and sit at the desk and study and then answer questions if any of the crew had them on routing the trucks or what product to send. They also gave me a raise, so I took the deal.

That decision could very well qualify as a mistake. When I graduated, they offered me a management position in a small company they had bought, and I didn’t even consider graduate school. As I have looked at my own life story all these years it has been clear how my choice to focus on business and sales took me from a more intellectual environment that I also loved. I have always felt the whisper of a small voice that keeps telling me “that what you do is who you are.” It helps when I add to that sentence that how you do what you do also tells who you are”.

The job I took when I graduated from collage moved me quickly into being a Branch Manager at a very young age in the foodservice industry which was just emerging as a growth industry.  I found myself able to understand the business better than many of the older people who were trying to come into the business. It was exciting to be considered an up and coming executive, but the reality was some of what business is leaves you wondering if your using your mind. I had always seen myself as outside the mainstream in intellectual opportunities.  I wondered what an advanced degree would do for me. I had two Uncles who had PHD’s that I admired.

I had to make up for this mistake so I began reading as many books as I could.  Some were sales and business books but more and more over the years my reading included the classics and the great authors. The desire to read has increased each year over my life. Looking back at my life story the choice to have not gone on to graduate school has bothered me. I know it has pushed me to read and learn as much as I can on my own.