How has WFS impacted you since graduation?
I believe that a person is fortunate if, over their Lifetime, they end up having a few good friends, one or two key mentors, and an institution that served as the crucible for their learning and growing. Friends was the latter for me. It provided the initial foundation in my formal education, but perhaps more importantly helped shape my identity, core beliefs and values. Those are attributes that I carry with me every day, so you could say Friends’ impact has been immeasurable. I am perhaps most appreciative of being given the chance to fail (a lot!) while at Friends. Unfortunately, in today’s protective world, the gift of failure is often held back from us, especially our youth. I count my failures among my most valuable lessons, and whether it was struggling through Mr. Harvey’s algebra class (got to take that one twice!), or sitting at the end of the bench during basketball games, I learned that it’s all about The Striving, Not The Arriving. My parents always said it was character-building for me to attend Friends, and they were right!
What are your favorite WFS memories?
I have so many, but they all stem from the intimacy and offering of the place. Where else could I have had the chance to play (sometimes!) three sports, sing in multiple musicals, act in a play, take college-level courses from Master teachers, co-lead a student/faculty/administration-wide business meeting, spend my formative years with all the same peers, have a best friend that always came to my defense and a really great girlfriend, to boot?! To me, Friends was a smorgasbord, and a safe place to put it all out there. As a result, I have always thrived in small, intimate work/play environments and found myself most self-actualized with passionate, authentic people.
What advice do you have for our students?
One thing that is hard to appreciate about WFS until you proceed further down life’s path is the opportunity this institution provides to learn from real domain experts. I believe that this is one of the distinct benefits of the school. I didn’t appreciate this until much later in life, but I was given the chance to learn the value of advance preparation, persevering physical hardship, and disciplined teamwork from Bob Tattersall, one of the winningest high school football coaches in the country. I began my study of pattern recognition through the eyes of a learned historian, Harry Hammond, who artfully helped me tie the past to the present. I developed confidence in presenting on stage from one of the most compelling musical/theatre directors, Violet Richman. I developed empathy and a passion for social justice from one of the most kindhearted lovers of all people, Rick Reynolds. And I learned the power of expression through the written word from one of Friends’ most authentic teachers, Kerry Brown. And there were many others. I know most of these folks have been succeeded by other equally talented domain experts. So, my advice to today’s students is to fully recognize that you have the “A Team” of subject matter experts right at your fingertips, so do not waste a nanosecond! Engage; Learn From Them; Soak It All In. Friends is your personalized incubator for starting to identify your character traits and develop your unique ability. And discovering what those are will help you get in the right “swim lane” for finding meaning and purpose in your life.
One other piece of advice, which may be especially apropos in current times, is for students to worry less. I have found that those who are outwardly focused, optimistic, bring positive attitude and energy, and can roll with life’s uncertainties tend to experience the most joy and success. I’ve had my own personal “moments of truth” during my life, and it’s been both remarkable and comforting to find that the sun really does come up the next day and life does go on. So, just be your best/authentic self and let the chips fall where they may.
What are your current interests and passions?
I have just closed a major chapter in my life—a 35+ year career building a boutique merger & acquisition advisory firm. I’m one of those rare birds (dodo? or perhaps just a dinosaur?) that stayed with one firm his entire career. But my full career isn’t over, and despite being 59 years old and challenged by those who ask me how my “retirement” is going (which I quickly correct is my “repurposement”), I am now blessed to be in a position to freely share my “3 T’s” (time/talent/treasure) in servant leadership alongside certain compelling entrepreneurs and leaders of employment social enterprises. I have always loved to work, so whether that’s helping a start-up obtain capital to get off the ground, helping an established not-for-profit scale a job training program for the underserved in our country, or splitting wood on our island property out in the Puget Sound, I’m happiest when I’m perspiring. After 33 years of marriage, I’m blessed to have a great wife who also is my best friend and co-conspirator on improving our properties, traveling anywhere/everywhere, sharing a good bottle of Pacific Northwest red, and now raising two twin King Charles pups. I’m an avid reader, especially of the Stoic philosophers. And both my adult son and daughter have decided to pursue their careers and lives in the Seattle area, so Family is a continuing focus of ours. Just trying to learn and grow ‘til they pull the plug!