Here’s to a great many successes, with a few brilliant failures, along the way (Convocation speech) Reply

Excerpts from one of my speeches to Mohawk’s graduating class of 2015 have been reprinted in today’s Hamilton Spectator. Here’s why failure is very much an option if you want to make your mark.

“To the graduating class of 2015, I wish you many successes and a few failures along the way.

Yes, your college president is telling you to fail.

This may seem like bad advice.  After all, you’re graduating today because you didn’t fail.  You spent semesters working hard to pass, if not ace, your tests, exams, assignments, projects and presentations.

But now the rules change.

Failure is now very much an option. A willingness to take smart risks and make a few mistakes is essential if you want to do great things as a future ready Mohawk graduate.

It’s been said that mistakes are the tuition we pay for success.

If you never fail then you’re likely not trying hard enough. You’ve set your sights too low. We need you to aim higher. Don’t dial back your dreams.

Know that the odds will not always be in your favour. In fact, the biggest rewards often carry the biggest risks.

Life is far too short to always play it safe. Yet lots of people will. I encourage you not to follow the crowd.

From time to time when you step up to the plate, swing for the fences and don’t worry if you strike out.

If you’re a baseball fan, then you know that Reggie Jackson will forever be known as Mr. October.  Reggie led the Oakland As and New York Yankees to four World Series titles. Reggie hit 563 home runs, was named to the all-star team 14 times and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

And who holds the record for most strikeouts in the 146-year history of Major League Baseball? None other than Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.

Over his career, Reggie struck out nearly 2,600 times.  He had four times as many strike outs as home runs.

Yet Reggie is remembered for his postseason heroics, World Series titles and home runs.

If Reggie had been afraid to strike out, he would have had a forgettable and brief big league career.

We want you to be unforgettable.

You’ll never know how great you are if you don’t go for it. We’ve seen your potential. Don’t waste it waiting for a sure bet that may never come along.

My hope is that you’ll work for an employer that rewards, or at the very least won’t punish you, for missing the mark and making mistakes.

Smart employers know that failure fuels innovation. Beat a path to the door of these organizations. These will be great places to work and they’ll make the most of your gifts.

Many of you came to Mohawk to earn an education that will lead to rewarding careers. Some of you came to Mohawk to create your own job and be your own boss.

So telling you to take risks and not shy away from making mistakes isn’t coming out of left field. You know that many successful inventors and entrepreneurs fail early and often. They just get up faster than the rest of us and try again. They are remarkably resilient.

Their failures become the foundation for building a great business and a remarkable life.

The remarkable Thomas Edison and his team made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before they invented the incandescent light bulb. A reporter once asked Edison how it felt to fail that many times. “I didn’t fail 1,000 times,” said Edison. “The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

While Edison was an inventor, my father was a serial entrepreneur.  There were hits and misses. Some of his ventures were more successful than others and none were without setbacks. Yet in the end, my dad built and grew successful businesses that employed many people, supported his family and inspired his seven children.

My wish is that you will lead a life of boldness and leave a similar legacy.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. Your mistakes will be forgotten and you’ll be remembered for your successes.

Failure is very much an option from here on out. So aim high. Be bold. Be brilliant. Be brave.  Be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.

When others shy away from anything less than a sure bet, step up and take your shot.

And should failure come your way, learn from it. Bounce back and keep going. Missteps will make you stronger and serve you well as a resilient, risk-taking and future-ready Mohawk College graduate.

Congratulations once again to you and the distinguished class of 2015.

Here’s to a great many successes, with a few brilliant failures, along the way.”

Kudos: Mohawk College crew delivers outstanding Convocation ceremonies for our graduating students Reply

Our Spring 2015 Convocation Ceremonies opened with incredibly powerful performances by the Spirit Vision Drummers and Dancers.

All of our Spring 2015 Convocation Ceremonies opened with incredibly powerful performances by the Spirit Vision Drummers and Dancers.

A very sincere thank you to the Mohawk Convocation crew who transformed what could’ve been a staid and sombre affair into an outstanding celebration for our graduating students. You also did a tremendous job in welcoming proud family and friends. We held nine ceremonies over four days in our McIntyre Performing Arts Centre at the Fennell Campus. I had the privilege of personally congratulating and shaking every student’s hand.

As I told the graduating class of 2015, working at Mohawk has three outstanding perks. We get to welcome students on their first day at Mohawk. We get to congratulate students on their last day. And in between, we get to watch our students realize their potential and achieve their dreams.

All nine Convocation ceremonies streamed live online and are posted here.

Special thanks to everyone who played a part in our Spring Convocation ceremonies, including:

  • Mary Male
  • Sheila Charkot
  • Catherine Byron
  • Sabrina Fordham
  • Michelle Steinmar
  • Alexia Neziol
  • Lesley Hardsand
  • Cheryl Olario
  • Dusty Noble
  • Jaime Bennett
  • Felcia Caggiano
  • Ron McLester
  • Bill Pooler
  • Randy Garbett
  • Anthony Cascella
  • Jeff Fodor
  • Steve Mikalauskas
  • Richard Hampshire
  • Sean Coffey
  • Donna James
  • Kim Greenholm
  • Jill Lobodici
  • Shirley Kuta
  • Steven Lobodici
  • Maria Segato
  • Deb Mancini
  • Ruth Leszko
  • Casandra Saiciuc
  • Mirela Vujcic
  • Ivana Letko
  • Haley Taylor
  • Michelle Senior
  • Dolores Morrallee
  • Deanna Lintott
  • Louise Nowak
  • Tara Holdsworth
  • Emily Fazekas
  • Maggie Tsafaridas
  • Anthony Frisina
  • Donna Drywood
  • Theresa Bain
  • Lucy Lobodici
  • Katie Burrows
  • Amanda Collina
  • Barb Russell
  • Danielle Young
  • Pam Smith
  • Jason Kovacs
  • Jamshed Turel
  • Dan Pavic
  • Carmine Deluca
  • Dr. Wayne Poirier
  • Dr. Christine Bradaric-Baus
  • Frederick Nickner
  • Marilyn Micucci
  • Bonnie Pataran, and
  • Vesna Simpson

Kudos: Mohawk’s Partnership Dinner with the Hamilton Community Foundation raises $53,000 for students Reply

Hamilton Mayor and Mohawk College graduate Fred Eisenberger

Hamilton Mayor and Mohawk College graduate Fred Eisenberger

A very big thank you to everyone who made Mohawk’s partnership dinner such a great success straight out of the gate.

More than $53,000 was raised for student bursaries and outreach programs at last week’s dinner co-hosted with the Hamilton Community Foundation. Proceeds from our first partnership dinner are being shared equally between our college and the foundation.

We reformatted our president’s dinner into an annual event where Mohawk can share the stage with our business, industry and community partners. Partnerships are essential to our work in transforming students into future ready graduates.

It was an honour to co-host this year’s dinner with Terry Cooke and the Hamilton Community Foundation. The foundation and our college share the same commitment to building an even stronger community by helping young people realize their potential and achieve their dreams.

Metroland Media Group VP Dana Robbins

Metroland Media Group VP Dana Robbins

Over 400 friends of the foundation and our college attended the sold-out dinner which featured:

  • a welcome from Hamilton Mayor and Mohawk alumnus Fred Eisenberger
  • an incredibly powerful and personal keynote by Metroland Media Group VP and former Hamilton Spectator publisher Dana Robbins
  • a conversation with three community partners of both the foundation and our college – Frederick Dryden with Liberty for Youth, Paddy Bowen with Mission Services and Glenn Harkness with the Kiwanis Boys and Girls and Club of Hamilton – who spoke with great passion about their work with young people, and
  • closing remarks by Blair McKeil, Chairman and CEO of McKeil Marine

Thanks also to Mohawk staff and students:

  • Sue Prestedge for serving as master of ceremonies.
  • Bonnie Pataran and Vesna Simpson for the floral arrangements
  • Olivia Brown for leading us in the singing of our national anthem
  • Shantel Maloney for leading us in grace
  • Alexander D’Alves, Jason Skidmore and Jillian McKenna for performing during the reception and dinner
  • And our student award recipients who sat at tables with our guests: Dana Pittman, Jacqueline Stillman, Tammy Cox, Maria Decastro and Talin Noranian-Boer

I was also want to thank our generous sponsors Bell, Dell, McKeil Marine, Cogeco, Walters Group, L3 Wescam and The Hamilton Spectator. The support of our sponsors allowed us to raise $53,000 to fund bursaries at Mohawk and student outreach initiatives at the Hamilton Community Foundation.

Hamilton Community Foundation President and CEO Terry Cooke

Hamilton Community Foundation President and CEO Terry Cooke

We look forward to co-hosting next year’s partnership dinner with the crew from McKeil Marine – a great community builder and college champion who will also be celebrating their 60th anniversary in 2016.

Mohawk student and graduate walking 10 days to raise money and awareness around mental health Reply

Mohawk Alumni of Distinction recipient and CHCH TV host Annette Hamm talks with student Amanda McManus and grad Jeff Beilby about their fundraising walk for mental health

Mohawk Alumni of Distinction recipient and CHCH TV host Annette Hamm talks with student Amanda McManus and grad Jeff Beilby about their fundraising walk for mental health

Mohawk Health, Wellness and Fitness student Amanda McManus and Business Insurance graduate Jeff Bielby will begin walking from the CN Tower to Parliament Hill starting next Sunday at 6 a.m.. Their 10-day backpacking walk between our provincial and national capitals aims to raise both awareness about mental illness and money for the Canadian Mental Health Association. Amanda,who’s currently on a one-year co-op work term at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, says their hike promotes physical activity as a therapeutic intervention. To find out more and support Amanda and Jeff’s walk, check out their blog at Hiking for Happiness.

Here’s Annette’s interview with Amanda and Jeff on CHCH Morning Live.

Kudos: Peter St. Denis appointed new commanding officer for The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Reply

Congratulations to Peter St. Denis on his appointment as the new commanding officer for The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Peter, who teaches in our Justice and Wellness program, is a former regular forces soldier and Peel Regional Police officer. Peter joined the regular military in 1985, served on peacekeeping missions in Cyprus, spent time with the Canadian Forces in Germany and became a reservist while working for the Peel police force. Peter has most recently held the post of commanding officer of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada in Toronto.

The Regimental Foundation of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s) is a Primary Reserve Highland Infantry Regiment of the Canadian Forces based at the John W. Foote VC Armory in downtown Hamilton. Reservists serve on a part-time basis and can volunteer for full time employment in the Canadian Forces. Reservists have made substantial contributions to Canada’s international efforts and domestic relief operations. More than half of reservists work either full or part-time in civilian employment and about 28 per cent are students.

You can read more about Peter’s appointment in the Hamilton Spectator.