Thursday, May 15, 2014

College Graduation Speech

Your Graduation Inspires Me

When I participate in graduation ceremonies, I often imagine delivering my own speech to the graduates, as if I were the commencement speaker:

Good morning chancellor, president, deans, faculty members, staff, students, friends, and family members.  And to the graduates:

Every one of you is special.
Every one of you is a productive member of society.
Every one of you is what inspires ME - because…
Every one of you has a story to tell.
I just wish I had the time to hear every one of them, and to be there as your career paths unfold.

You have already accomplished a huge milestone on that journey.  The biggest step though was just showing up.  That’s it.  The secret most people don’t get until it’s too late.  Just showing up as young freshmen was a threshold event.  Trying something which may be hard for the first time.  Experiencing new things, even if it’s unknown whether the objective is attainable.

To me, the greatest barriers to success, however you define that, are a fear of the unknown, a fear of change, and a fear of failure.  But you need a game plan, and hopefully you can lean a little on what you learned in school to figure out that route.  No matter what you do in life, you always will have your education.

I hope you made some lifelong friends here.  Frankly, I learned more about life from my peers than from my professors.  And I hope you got more than knowledge from your profs because you can get that from a book.  I’m hoping you gained insight on whatever subject, and then stamped your own original perspective on how to resolve issues and solve problems.

Many times the things you do won’t work.  And you will fail at some things you try.  That’s just a fact of life.  Abraham Lincoln once said:  “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” 

And you will make mistakes.  A lot of them!  Both in your careers and your lives.  That’s just another fact of life.  But that’s okay.  The trick is figuring out how to deal with setbacks.  Your family and friends will always be there for you.  And your education will continually serve as a foundation to get you back on track.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “We are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of our own minds.”  Graduates, each of you must unlock your mind and blaze a path built on reason and purpose.  Life is too short to spend it bouncing around like a random and aimless ball in a game of Pong.®  And whether you are 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, or 80 years young, it is never too late to test the boundaries of your dreams. 

Finally, I want all of you gathered in front of me to please lose the title of “former” student, because you will be my students for many years to come.  And I expect in return that I can become your student, as I learn about your professional successes, trials, and tribulations.

Every one of you is special.
Every one of you is a productive member of society.
Every one of you is what inspires me – because...
Every one of you has a story to tell.

What will your next journey be?

c 2009-2013 Perry Binder, LLC

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Best High School Graduation Gift Books

What's the lamest high school graduation gift you've seen? How about a good book instead, for college prep or just for pure fun. Hey, I had to sneak my book onto this list.

The Best High School Graduation Gift Books
via Amazon Lists

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Never crush anyone’s career dreams

Dr. J at the James L. Knight Center in Miami, before an exhibition game to attract an NBA team

Don’t let anyone crush your dreams.  However, the riskier your dream, the better your backup plan must be.

Never crush anyone’s dreams.
When I was a little kid, I dreamed about playing professional basketball.  In third grade, we had to write an essay on what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I wrote that I wanted to be 6’10” and play in Madison Square Garden.  When the teacher handed back my paper, she laughed out loud and said: “You can’t do that!”
That was the first time someone had crushed my professional dream.  The teacher may have been right about the 6’10” part, but this molder of young minds lacked the understanding of what negative reinforcement can do to little kids.  She also lacked the understanding that height isn’t everything for a basketball player.  Teachers, especially in the impressionable K-12 years, are my personal heroes.  Yet they need to be dream builders, not dream destroyers.  It’s healthy to discuss rational backup career plans, but why spoil youthful exuberance which could flower into the unexpected?
            Postscript:  When I was 25 years old, I met the great Dr. J and got to play one-on-one with 7’4” center Mark Eaton of the Utah Jazz, that year’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year.  I’ll leave the game results to your active imagination.
This story is the basis for Motivator #4

Monday, March 31, 2014

NEW: Pinterest & 99 Motivators

Everyone - Please take a moment and visit my Pinterest board, forward to others, and pin an item (if you use Pinterest). 


Perry Binder, J.D.
Author: 99 Motivators for College Success

Saturday, February 15, 2014

From the Dorm to Lake Placid to Sochi

This article appears in The Huffington Post:

I like your hat, Bill offered mischievously to the middle-aged Russian man.
The man kept walking with a deliberate gait.
Trade you my Vikings football cap, Bill tries, with the tact of a paparazzo in the Olympic Village.
The Russian gentleman stopped and looked at Bill. Then at me, wrapped in a parka the size of the Hindenburg.
Nyet, the man delivered stoic faced, as he disappeared amidst the snow flurries.
This was the beginning of my trip to Lake Placid. It was a safe bet that Bill and I were not destined to be good will ambassadors for these Games.
We left for Lake Placid from our Binghamton University dormitory at 2:00 a.m., to a mock chorus of God Bless America from the less than enlightened frat boys. About forty pioneers boarded a charter bus for the one day, 14-hour roundtrip journey from Vestal, New York. As we pulled away from campus, my thoughts wandered back to Franz Klammer's downhill run in 1976 at Innsbruck, and to the ice-cold keg of beer in the back of bus -- courtesy of those more than enlightened frat boys.
Headline - Monday, February 18, 1980 - Bus waits may last throughout Games
For the sixth day in a row, spectators were forced to wait for more than an hour-and-a-half at some venues sites.
Headline - Many treated for frostbite
(UPI) A bitter wind from the Northwest ... plunged the 'chill factor' to minus 40 (F and C).
When the bus arrived at 9:00a.m., the first thing I wanted to do was see the Olympic torch and get in touch with all the good that it represents. The silver cauldron was perched about 100 feet above the snowdrifts. The base of the structure was a very unassuming platform from which the torch was first lit. After the lighting, the cauldron traveled up to its resting place along a track supported by two thin white beams, one on each side of the track. Access to the torch was permitted, as Bill took a picture of me on the platform. I posed with both arms raised in victory celebration form.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Integrating Social Networks into Out-of-Class Activities

Abstract accepted for The Future of Education conference, June 2014:
Integrating Social Networks into Out-of-Class Activities for
Traditional and Hybrid College Courses
It is the framework which changes with each new technology and not just the picture within the frame. 
Marshall McLuhan, 1955
This paper supports the proposition that student use of social networking tools outside of class increases student-to-student and student-to-professor interaction, while enhancing critical thinking skills in the classroom.  Given the trend to move some classes into a hybrid format, the increased use of social networks on the students’ preferred “technology turf” is a key component in facilitating learning in such activities.  Further, the paper will offer insight from the perspective of a professor and a graduate teaching assistant (GTA), as they discuss the pros and cons of integrating social networks into out-of-class activities.  For example, the paper demonstrates how students and a professor formed an online Twitter community in an Internet Law business course, where students shared and commented on the latest international law news affecting the internet and social networks.  The class then assessed the legal context of social network behavior when they re-grouped in class.  As another example, a professor created a Facebook project, and (with a bit of trepidation) asked students to “friend” him.  In the project, students were instructed to find inappropriate comments posted anywhere on Facebook, re-post them on the professor’s “wall,” and comment on the implications of such postings if an employer actually read them.  Hand-in-hand with the pedagogical benefits of social networks, there is an overarching need to ensure student privacy in learning environments.  A major challenge faced by educators is how to teach students to navigate and leverage social networks in the business world, while maintaining their comfort level of privacy on the internet.  This paper addresses the importance of guiding students on how to be responsible digital citizens, as they analyze and assess the ethical use of social networks in the global workplace.  Thus, in a professor-GTA discussion over whether students in a study abroad class should maintain a public blog or a closed Facebook group for communication, the closed group option was chosen for privacy reasons.  Finally, the paper will introduce how out-of-class social network activities, when augmented with “gamification” (applying game-design thinking to non-game applications in an attempt to make the latter more fun), can elevate student engagement and learning in traditional and hybrid courses.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Inspiring Teacher Series: Interviews with Master Teachers from K-12 to College

My favorite blog posts over the years involved interviews with great teachers who've inspired students year after year.  This blog post brings all of those interviews together.

The Inspiring Teacher Series: Interviews with Master Teachers from K-12 to College


Questions included:
What inspired you to teach?
What teaching methods are most helpful in guiding students towards their goals?
What would you like to improve about your teaching?
What is the one thing you wish you'd known when you started your teaching career?

Bridget Robbins

Middle School
Travis Tingle

High School
Paul Cohen
Brendan Halpin
Barry Hantman

Jody Blanke
Greg Henley
Mara Mooney

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Top Takeaways: Success in College Life, Career Direction & the Classroom


-  Every college has many social and career-focused organizations.  Figure out which groups to participate in for fun and for your future.

-  Learn what your strengths are and how to use them in stressful situations.  You already know what your weaknesses are – now figure out how to compensate for them.

-  Live life with no regrets but understand the consequences of your decisions, whether they relate to classes, your future, or personal matters.


-  The media shapes our impressions of what different careers are like.  Research the benefits and challenges of your major and career path by interviewing people who work in that industry, and by securing an internship in that field.

-  Keep an open mind when choosing a major or career path.  Base these decisions on your likes, dislikes, personality, and work style, rather than on the expectations placed on you by family and peers.

-  Don’t let anyone crush your dreams.  However, the riskier your dream, the better your backup plan must be.


-  Seek out a friend in every class you take, so you can share lecture notes and maybe even study together.

-  Develop and stick to a firm studying schedule.  Procrastinators often claim to be self-motivators and need to consider working like structure people.

-  Your professors are rooting for you to succeed.  Ask them how they would study for their own exams.  Request practice quizzes, with the answers explained in class.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Teacher who dropped out recalls experience to inspire at-risk students

Excellent and inspiring article for students of all ages, for this holiday season:

Tears well up in Deborah LaPlante’s eyes as she sits at the back of the Orleans Arena, watching intently as her students file one by one across the stage to receive their high school diplomas.
As with most graduations, it’s a joyful occasion. Parents are smiling, teachers are beaming and students are radiating pride and hope for the future.
LaPlante, a 51-year-old teacher at Chaparral High School, never experienced the triumph of a high school graduation. In 1976, she dropped out of Orange Glen High School in Escondido, Calif., just a few weeks into her junior year. She was 16.

Continue reading: Teacher who dropped out recalls experience to inspire at-risk students

Sunday, September 29, 2013

10 Tips for Picking a Career Path in College

In the sage words of Yogi Berra, "if you don't know where you're going, you'll be lost when you get there." Picking a career path boils down to a cost benefit analysis and a gut check. It is a game of reality versus passion, and you can start blazing a meaningful path in college.
But hopefully you can appreciate that every career has an arc, and you are at the beginning of the curve. Don't be surprised if your career direction changes significantly a few times before and after you reach the peak.
With that message in mind, here are my 10 tips for picking a career path in college:
1. Don't let anyone crush your dreams.  However, the riskier your dream, the better your backup plan must be.

2. There is a huge difference between a childhood dream and a dream job. If you dreamed of being a lawyer since the age of twelve, you better make sure you know exactly what attorneys do on a given twelve hour work day. Did You Know: In a survey of 800 attorneys, only 55 percent reported being satisfied with their career.
3. Make sure your dream job is not an avocation (a hobby). An avocation is a vacation from a vocation, because the pay ranges from little to nothing.
4. No matter what your part-time jobs or summer jobs are, always be thinking about how those experiences will enhance your resume and work skills.
5. The most important thing for deciding on a major or career path is to get out of the classroom and into an internship which exposes you to the day-to-day ups and downs of that profession. "Learning by doing" will give you a better appreciation of the job than learning through textbooks.
6. Do what you love but don't let your career choices jeopardize anyone you love. Including yourself. Translation: Take care of others but don't forget to take care of yourself, sometimes before others. Listen to our airline flight attendants: "Put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others with their masks."
7. Determine whether you are driven to be your own boss or if you crave the stability of a steady paycheck. Assess your personality traits and the risks inherent with both paths. (e.g., the risk of putting up your own money as your own boss versus the risk of losing a job in a company you work for) Did You Know: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists occupations with the largest job growth projected through the year 2018, starting with registered nurse.
8. Rather than casually asking career advice from parents or other relatives, set up a time to interview them, with prepared general and specific questions. This approach will make them think more thoughtfully about their responses, and may reveal their personal career challenges and triumphs.
9. Don't rely on luck or fate in your career. Professional success is about putting yourself in a position to create numerous opportunities.
10. Over the course of your lifetime, there may only be a handful of impactful career opportunities. Assemble an inner circle team of advisors now, so you'll be able to act quickly to objectively assess the pluses and minuses of future opportunities.
And finally, clean up your social media presence online! What's publicly available might not bode well for your future employment. Did You Know: In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission approved the practice of employers conducting social media background checks going back seven years for job applicants.
10 Tips for Picking a Career Path in College
c 2013 Perry Binder, The Huffington Post College section
(Excerpt from 99 Motivators for College Success)