What does being one of Pepperdine's 40 under 40 honorees mean to you?
I am honored to have been selected from a group of outstanding alumni, and the recognition reflects my belief that with hard work and taking care of the people around myself, I can make a difference in my community.
Describe your success:
My father always said that my name means something so to always put my best self forward every day and people will notice. I take that to heart and strive to give everything I have in every aspect of my life, whether it's at work, in my reserve unit, in my community, and—most importantly—at home as a father. As a rule of thumb, I set the bar higher for myself than anyone else can set for me, so if I don't deliver on my commitments, I have to answer to myself before anyone else. That said, no one can succeed alone, so I also surround myself with positive people who want to make the most out of every day.
How does Pepperdine play into your success?
Pepperdine gave me a wonderful gift in my education and supported me through the Yellow Ribbon Program and the GI Bill. Without the University's commitment to veterans, I would not be where I am today. From the faculty and staff within the Graziadio School of Business and Management all the way to President Benton, I was welcomed and embraced by the Pepperdine community. As an Iraq War veteran, transitioning into the civilian world and returning to school was a challenging task, and I was afraid that I would not be welcome among my peers and the faculty, but within the Pepperdine community the exact opposite was true, and I am very grateful for my experience.
Who inspires you and why?
My friend, Ademola Fabayo, a Marine officer who is currently in Iraq, and who has never met his beautiful three-month-old daughter, Athena. Major Fabayo is a true war hero, having been awarded the Navy Cross in Afghanistan, but more importantly he is a humble man of morals and principles who demands the absolute best from everyone around him. As a Nigerian immigrant he came to the United States, enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve while going to Penn State, earned his BS in civil engineering, became a U.S. citizen and a marine officer, and then went off to fight for his adopted country. He defies every stereotype and embodies everything we value of Americans, shies from the spotlight, and commits all of himself to his Marines and his family. I am honored and humbled to be his friend, and his commitment to being a good man drives me to do the same every day.
What's next for you? What's your five year outlook? What's your ten year plan?
Being a father has really opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunity to grow as a person, and I can't wait to teach my almost two-year-old daughter and watch her grow. Hopefully within the next five years there will be another little one around, and I am so excited for the journey. Professionally, I plan to continue to grow as a leader within my industry, joining more professional committees and roles of increased responsibility. I intend to maintain a close relationship with the Pepperdine community as well as my local community through volunteer efforts such as joining a nonprofit board. Finally, within my Marine Corps Reserve career, I intend to continue to grow and develop the next generation of young warriors who can learn from my experiences and mistakes overseas to better keep us safe at home, and keep them safe overseas.
What's your secret sauce?
Holding myself to a higher standard than anyone else around me does and always reaching for the stars. The way I see it, even if I miss the stars, not many people have made it to the moon, so even failure at a lofty goal is quite the achievement.
How do you prepare for a busy day?
I plan ahead and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. In order to be most effective, I ensure everything I need to do has been thought out and contingencies have been identified. Sometimes I am accused of being OCD, but if I can eliminate variables that can distract me, then I can focus on what I really need to commit my energy toward.
What is one of your hobbies?
I play softball every Tuesday night on a team in my town. It's such a great release from everything to get out on the field and compete with a group of guys who don't take themselves too seriously but still want to win every week.
What is your favorite quote?
You are not responsible for all the things that may happen to you in your life, but you are responsible for how you react to those things.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Teaching. Does Pepperdine have any faculty positions open??? :)