Memories of Awe Episode 31

Liz was fascinated by the connection of talent and moral beauty. She hadn’t thought of how talent evolves. Professor McKown had shared with her a couple of talent discovery memories. That’s what she decided to focus on with her next interview.

LJ: I must admit that I never thought that students needed help in finding their talent. Is that something you help a lot of students with or just a few?

KMcK:  I’ve found that most students need help discovering their talent. Many pick a major for the wrong reasons, and they never fully develop the talent they have. Others have too many talents and can’t pick one as their core talent. Then there are those who are just what I call floaters. They just don’t have any interests other than having a good time.

LJ: I’m intrigued by those who have too many talents. Could you share one of those memories?

KMcK:  Sure, let me tell you about Barry. He had no idea what he wanted to do when he came to college. When he came to my office, he always had a new idea. I could tell early on that an entrepreneurial career would be where he could best use his talent.

LJ: How do you help students once you discover where their talent might be best used?

KMcK:  I don’t like to tell them. I prefer to help them discover for themselves the talent they have.

LJ: How did you help Barry make that discovery?

KMcK:  He was well on his way. He became the campus representative for Sports Illustrated. That required a lot of entrepreneurial talent. The summer after his sophomore year, I helped him get a job with one of alumni who had taken a family business to the fifth largest of its type in America.

LJ: When he returned for his junior year, had he decided on his talent?

KMcK:  He had. He added a minor in entrepreneurship. But Barry was still lacking self-confidence.

LJ: So, what did you do?

KMcK:  The summer after his junior year, he got an internship with one of the top consulting firms. The other interns were mostly from the Ivy League. What he discovered was that he was just as smart as they were, but he could actually do things. The other interns could just talk.

LJ: So by the time he was ready to graduate, did he start his career by developing a business?

KMcK:  That was the next step in his nurturing. I was able to connect him with one of our alumni who was a successful entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. Barry moved to California and got a masters in Entrepreneurship at Berkeley. He has since formed three successful businesses.

But, even more importantly, he has become a mentor for other students who have entrepreneurial talent. He is the embodiment of a phrase that I use in class: Learn. Earn. Return.

LJ: Thank you so much. I just wish I could have a mentor to help me with nurturing my talent.

KMcK:  You do.

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“Use what talent you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” – Henry Van Dyke (author, educator)

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