Our lives are characterized by challenges, choices and outcomes. I firmly believe that the challenges or adversities that we face can be used to propel us forward in ways we could not have imagined.
In 2012, I suffered a spinal cord injury that left me paralyzed from the shoulders down. From that point on, I have been on a relentless pursuit of professional development and self-improvement. In pursuing my MBA, I have found that this behavior is a necessity for businesses and organizations as well.
How can we prepare for unexpected challenges and use them for our benefit? The answer is not a one-size-fits-all, nor a steps 1-2-3-type approach. Rather, we must look deep inside ourselves to determine the strengths and values that define who we are as individuals and as organizations. Only then can we strategize our way forward.
In early 2015, I became clear on this vision and my journey, and met Mike Matuz ’07. Mike is a graduate of the Argyros School of Business and Economics and I believe he is best described as a serial entrepreneur. We were matched up as student and mentor through Chapman50.
From the beginning, we connected and found a common love of business strategy and looking at organizations for what they could be, not just what products they sold. Mike shared real-word accounts of success, failure, hard knocks and happy times from 10 years in the entrepreneurial trenches. He challenged me to think about success in life differently. As he put it, "Everyone thinks success is work harder or work smarter. It's not! It's about working right."
Furthermore, it's about economy of energy and conserving your best effort for the pursuits that mean the most to you. Mike taught me to focus on the vital few in business, health, family, and my mission, and to not get distracted by the trivial many.
Mike saw me for who I am and what I could be, and reminds me every time we meet.
"Marty, you should be selling out stadiums like Tony Robbins with all the passion you have to give!” he tells me.
My beliefs as a leader now are to capitalize on my strong desire to compete, focus on solving problems and develop businesses strategically. I value the organizations I engage with over personal achievement, and believe in the transformative power of philanthropy and social enterprise.
I would like to thank Mike and Chapman 50 for this amazing opportunity. It has truly set my experience at Chapman to a whole new level. The alumni mentoring has made me feel part of a community that truly understands what I have ahead and has given me a roadmap to follow.
-written by Marty O'Connor
Chapman University MBA candidate