I always get a little (or maybe a lot) SELF REFLECTIVE at the end of each academic quarter of my Northwestern Kellogg classes. The ten weeks of my Values-Based Leadership and Leading a Global Company classes always seem to fly by.

Last week, one of my students asked if I would compile some “words of wisdom” for the last class. I wasn’t sure if I had any “wisdom”, but I did compile some thoughts and some of my favorite quotes and stories. I hope you enjoy them!

Congratulations to all of the graduates, and have a great summer!

Warm regards,



  1. Take the time for self reflection (this is where your values are established and your leadership starts)
  2. Never forget or postpone LIFE BALANCE (this is not “work/life balance” but “life balance”…This is the key to a life worth living)
  3. Make sure you get from the ROOTS to the TREES to the FOREST…..put everything in perspective….think globally and holistically)
  4. Build (and constantly revise) your Leadership Action Plan (we can improve every day we are given on this earth)
  5. Read, read, read…..as many different topics and perspectives as possible (never stop learning)
  6. Build and develop an amazing network…..be a GIVER, not a TAKER
  7. Always “pay it forward”
  8. Read the poem “The Dash” by Linda Ellis (a great way to start the self reflection process)
  9. Read the speech “The Man in the Arena” by Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the U.S. Here’s my favorite part of the speech that he presented at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910:
    The Man in the Arena
    Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910:
    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
  10. Read the poem “IF” by Rudyard Kipling. Here it is:
    by Rudyard Kipling
    If you can keep your head when all about you
        Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
        But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
        Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
        And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
        If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
        And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
        Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
        And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
        And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
        And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
        To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
        Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
        Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
        If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
        With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
        And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
    Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)
  11. Read the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote:
    To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Philosopher, Poet, Author, Essayist
  12. Read the story “Rocks, Pebbles, Sand” (anonymous)

    “Rocks, Pebbles, Sand”

    A philosophy professor stood before his class and picked up a large, empty mayonnaise jar which he proceeded to fill with rocks. He asked his students if the jar was full.


    They agreed that it was, so the professor picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.

    He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into open areas between the rocks. He asked again if the jar was full.


    They agreed it was. The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it in and the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.


    The students responded with a unanimous yes.


    “Now,” said the professor, “This jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children–things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

    The pebbles are the other things that matter…like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the really small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks.

    The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important.

    Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

    AND A FINAL THOUGHT…the professor produced two cans of beer and poured them into the jar, filling the empty space between the sand. The Professor then said, “No matter how full your life is, there is always room for a few beers.” 😉