Stedman Graham's Learning Story


It is up to each of us to define ourselves, and that is a life’s work. Like so many others, I grew up unaware that there could be a process for becoming successful. Without any guidelines for designing a plan for myself, I was for a long time left without any real sense of direction. Then I met Bob Brown, and my world changed. Bob was a successful businessman and management consultant in North Carolina, where I also lived. I was a thirty-year-old employee of the prison system and unsure of where I was headed. We were both black men, but whereas I saw a world of limited possibilities, Bob’s worldview was limitless. I knew this the moment I met him at a friend’s house. He walked differently, talked differently’everything about him was larger, more confident, and more impressive. And it made me want to learn everything I could from him. I got my chance shortly after our first meeting. ‘Do you play golf?’ Bob asked me, knowing I was an active athlete. ‘Yes,’ I said’although I had grown up not knowing fully the challenges of golf and had only caddied as a young person. ‘Great,’ Bob replied. ‘Would you like to come with a group of us to the Ivory Coast?’ In the months and years that followed, Bob taught me about the rules of business. He taught me it was possible to dream big and to interact in different cultures and environments while remaining grounded to your essential sense of self. And, most important, he taught me that I too could achieve what I hoped for in my life. We are all blessed in some way. In a very real sense, all of us have a certain magic’a gift, a talent, or an ability that if developed and put to its highest use can help us overcome setbacks, defeats, and difficulties. But we all need people like Bob to help us unearth those talents, develop the right set of skills, and start trying to make our way in the world. Fortunately, we all come fully equipped with essential tools to help us as we endeavor to make our way successfully in this world. Each of us has a conscience, a will, and the power of imagination. Most people want to stay within their comfort zones, where they feel safe and secure. But we all must risk losing control in order to push ourselves to the outer limits of our own unique abilities and talents. Thanks, Bob, for showing me the way.