Courtesy: gawker.com
Courtesy: gawker.com

By Kelly Swanson

Anyone as old as I am may remember references to the constant lights-out or Blackout initiative from July 1939 to April 30, 1945. You may have read about it but you also may have heard your grandparents talk about it, or even your great grandparents. This was when the government decided to protect the U.S. from bombing raids that were perceived to happen if Hitler and Japan where to start bombing raids on American soil. They started this before America even entered the war, based on what they were seeing with the London bombing raids and turmoil in Europe. American businesses were caught off guard because the government was mandating that people do things some didn’t want to do. Businesses were forced to install dual barrier doors, which prevented light from shinning out, outdoor street lights were switched off, and people all over the country, during the depression, were told to buy heavy drapes or paint to cover their windows. People couldn’t feed themselves literally, and the government was telling them to do this our pay a fine or be arrested. Historically, our government does step in and mandate that people respond or else from time to time. It was a patriotic duty! For the good of the country! The recent changes that are occurring with mandated health care coverage is another historic chapter in our country. What are you going to do to turn this into a business opportunity? Are you looking at it that way?

As a newly minted Thunderbird alumni, current or new student, you will undoubtedly see and hear the most amazing things in your life, now and in the future because of Thunderbird. What and how you do things in business are going to set you apart. You can sit back, watch as the parade of talent changes the world, or you can jump in marching to the beat of a different drum. You can create new enterprise from the missed opportunities of others; build a bridge for those who can’t create one, join a company then work your way to happiness, and many other chances. You can become an entrepreneur and fill a need, taking a chance that you may be a Rockefeller, Buffet, or Hearst. Wherever the world takes us, we all have a chance, a chance to do great things. I have said this many times here, but the chance you take will always be your own. You can’t blame anyone else if you don’t act. We see things all around us that we like and don’t like. When were the last time you decided to change something you didn’t like? People find it easy to enjoy the things we like, but fail to change what we don’t like more often than not. People tend to go along with everyone else, also called the “social norm.” It’s easy to do this. You have all heard the saying “don’t rock the boat” “let sleeping dogs lie,” and “better safe than sorry.” These catchall phrases are something we are taught early on in life. I work with people that have never left California, and some have never left their towns or nearby cities. That sort of contentment is strange to me, and I always have to ask “why?”

Fill a Need

As a Thunderbird, we are taught to think out of the box. Listening to some students in my cohort I am fascinated at the ideas. I am not worried about T-birds, but others I am not so sure. Taking the opportunity that has been granted to us and embracing it is power beyond words. When someone’s does something or you hear a person say, “I hate it when…” that may be an opportunity knocking. Are you going to walk away? When the government stated that people have to by medical insurance I saw dollar signs. I felt like this is now, for the next decade or more the new stock market. Medical devices, insurance plans, and other medical-related needs’ that need to be filled. Am I just going to watch as others move? No. I am not going to wait for someone to turn off my lights. My light bulb has been replaced by a solar flare. It may sound corny, but that’s just what it is. All around you T-birds are needs that are empty. Fill them with your ideas. If I learned anything at Thunderbird it is that needs’ are meant to be filled, and someone someday is going to fill them. Is it going to be you or me?

Recently, I decided to fill a need. I created a company, filed a trademark, applied for a copyright, and paid for a business license. I was tired of waiting for someone else to do it so I decided to do it myself. It feels good to know you about to embark on something surprisingly only a few people ever do. I’m scared though. I am about to cut the string I have held onto for almost 17 years. It’s that free-fall feeling and you really hope you land on soft feathers, but you feel it will end up being solid concrete. Now the hard part is convincing people that you have a valid idea and it’s worth investing in. That is not so easy. Some people have told me, “well we survived without one this long.” As I stood, jaw wide opened in astonishment of what was just proclaimed. Is this wisdom or is this complacency in action. I sarcastically thought to myself, “Well… this is going to be fun!”

Go forth T-Birds and fill a need. Find something that allows you to stand out. Don’t fear the eagles flying overhead are going to swoop down on you. You fly right up because your better than an eagle, you’re a Thunderbird! See you next week! TBITW!

Michael Reardon

Michael Reardon

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