Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's Motivation: Never Crush Anyone's Dreams (Including Your Own)

Dr. J at the James L. Knight Center in Miami, before an exhibition game to attract an NBA franchise (Miami Heat)

(99 Motivators for College Success)
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.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Presenting E.T.H.I.C.S. (Elevating Trust Has Inspired Customer Satisfaction)

An old lesson for a new year...

Presenting E.T.H.I.C.S.
(Elevating Trust Has Inspired Customer Satisfaction)
 © 2003-2017 Perry Binder

This article first appeared in Professional Speaker magazine.
Reprinted:  The Human Resource; ASTD Atlanta Newsletter; Atlanta HR Leadership ForumAtlanta CPCU Newsletter

Do any of these statements ring familiar?
- In the old days, a deal could be done on a handshake.
- A person's word used to be as good as gold.
- The bottom line has become more important than people.

I recently spoke before a group of HR and insurance professionals about customers losing trust in their industry. As the pressure to produce increases, the industry seems to cut corners. Sadly, company communication is breaking down by ignoring the very backbone of the industry, the loyal clients.

Discussing the topic of ethics before a captive audience is a very delicate process. The presenter must strike the appropriate balance between making the audience comfortable by offering objective information in an energized and thoughtful manner, without excessive preaching about the importance of ethical behavior.

I believe that each of us has a strong moral compass which gets tested every day on the job. As a presenter, if I can provide concrete examples to an audience of how unethical behavior will adversely affect a company, I can then initiate a dialogue of ethical dilemmas in any industry. My goal is to give participants a frame of reference, not to instill ethical beliefs. By providing people with relevant analogies, hopefully they will develop the tools needed to prevent any unethical situations arising in a company setting.

I. The Erosion of Client Confidence
The recent explosion of bad faith lawsuits filed by dissatisfied customers is evidence of an erosion in confidence:
- An insurance company's delay and denial of a homeowner's claim for cleaning up toxic mold caused by a water leak led the client to sue the insurance company.

The result:
$6.2 million compensatory damages
$12 million punitive damages
$5 million for mental anguish
$8.9 million in attorney fees!!

- An insurance company's "No settlement stance" led a client to sue his automobile insurance company for bad faith.  The client had been in a car accident which led to the death of one motorist, and disabling injuries to another.  The company refused to settle for the policy limits of $25,000, in spite of overwhelming evidence of the client's fault in the accident.  This led to a jury verdict in excess of $25,000, thus exposing the client to personal liability.  The client then turned around and sued the insurance company for bad faith.

The result:  $2.6 million in compensatory damages and $145 million in punitive damages (The judge lowered the jury;s award to "only" $1 million in compensatory damages, and $25 million in punitive damages)

If the initial, knee-jerk reaction of a company is to turn its back on a client, all of the trust built over the years with that client is instantly lost.  Immediately, an adversarial relationship is created.  It is the very nature of confrontational environments which may plant the seeds of unethical behavior.

II. Building Trust is the Key to Avoiding Ethical Dilemmas
 As a lighthearted analogy, I use an Aesop's Fable, where two buddies (insurance salesperson and client) are traveling together in the woods, when a bear rushes out in front of them.  On instinct, the salesperson grabs a tree branch and climbs a tree, stranding the client.  Ever resourceful, the client feigns death, knowing the bear won't eat dead meat.  After the bear sniffs close to the client's ear, it eventually leaves the area.  As the salesperson climbs down the tree, he laughingly asks the client:  "What did that big bad bear whisper?"  The client glares, then offers:  "He said, never trust a friend who deserts you in a pinch."

This issue of trust permeates any discussion of company ethics. It is a message which must start at the top, and is a number one priority in all company-customer relationships. 

III. Tips on Ethics Presentations for Every Industry
1. An observation: The role of the presenter is not to change peoples' minds about ethics - rather it is to give the audience a frame of reference with examples of unethical behavior.
2. Start the session off in a light manner, using a humorous story to make a larger point.
3. Never put audience members on the spot.  The topic of ethics is so sensitive, that the facilitator must put no one on the defensive.
4. Remind the audience about the good news:  That most people in the industry have very strong morals, and usually do the ethical thing.
5. Find specific cases of extreme ethical violations in a particular industry.  These examples will generate discussion on how solid communication and trust might have prevented an escalation of unethical behavior.
6. Give hope to audience members. Remind them that special attention to the customer will slowly build back any lost trust.
7. Consider a presentation where audience members construct a brief, uniform Ethics Mission Statement.
8.  Emphasize that employers must continually educate employees on company ethics. There are no quick-fixes to such an important topic.
9.  Have fun in any presentation! (the most important lesson of all)
10. Remember E.T.H.I.C.S. - Elevating Trust Has Inspired Customer Satisfaction

Perry Binder, J.D.  is a legal studies professor in Georgia State University's Robinson College of Business in Atlanta, Georgia.  Professor Binder conducts seminars for large and small companies on a range of topics, including social media ethics, litigation prevention, and sexual harassment/discrimination.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

College Graduation Speech to My Students

To My Students - If I am your commencement speaker, here's what I will say...

Good morning Chancellor, President, Deans, Faculty Members, Staff, Students, Friends, and Family Members.  Welcome.
Before we can shower accolades on the superstars before me, I’d love to recognize the super heroes that got them here.  So if you’re a mom or dad of a graduate, please stand up for some applause.  Keep standing!  If you are a grandma/pa of a graduate, please stand up as well for applause.  Keeeeeeeeeeeep standing grandma!  If you are a graduate, and YOU are a mom or dad as well, please rise for applause.  Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in recognizing these miracle workers, for without their encouragement and sacrifice, we would not be here today honoring the bright future of our graduates.

(Now moving away from the podium, standing at the edge of the stage and speaking to the grads):
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 for the first time which may be hard.  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 lack of curiosity, 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 college peers than from my professors.  And hopefully 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.

(Jumping off stage and standing among the graduates):
Raise your hand if you’ve done dumb things in life. 
Come on; raise your hands!
Your mama already knows anyway!
I see a lot of hands up.
Hey, I’ve made some big mistakes too.

I feel very lucky to be here today.
Physically, I mean.
You see, at an early age, I was left for dead in a ravine off some highway in upstate New York.  I was the same age as most of you around me. 

Let me read you my obituary:
Perry Binder of Queens, New York, was found dead off Interstate 90 near Buffalo.   A trucker discovered his body, dripping with blood and draped with a state trooper’s ticket for reckless driving.  The apparent cause of death was stupidity.  Perry just completed his first year of law school, after graduating with a B.A. in Political Science.  He enjoyed watching baseball games with his grandfather, and dreamed of becoming a sports lawyer.  He is survived by his mother, father, brother, grandfather, a basketball, and ratty sneakers.  Perry was 21 years of age.

            Now, as a college educated group, I’m guessing you figured out that this obit was a bit premature?  But that’s what should have happened to me during a summer job, after pulling a 16-hour graveyard shift loading and unloading passenger baggage in a downtown bus depot, then jumping in my car and driving the second leg of my 140-mile roundtrip commute. 
Just five minutes from home, I fell asleep at the wheel.
I blasted the car stereo, rolled down the windows, and sucked down a gallon of coffee.  The warning signs were all there, but I just kept going and going.
Eventually, my eyes closed as my hands slipped off the steering wheel.  The car veered to the right, right off the road, smashing into the side of a parked flatbed.  That truck miraculously prevented the car from flying into a grassy ravine.  It was off on the road’s shoulder, so the trucker could catch up on some sleep.  Luckily, he was okay, but I think I woke him up at the same moment I opened my eyes.
In shock, losing blood and coherent thought, I wandered aimlessly down into the ravine.  I wanted more than anything to lay down in a fetal position, close my eyes and pray for some help.  But I knew that I needed to stay conscious.
In the days before cell phones, it was fortunate that the trucker had a CB radio.  He called for paramedics, who arrived quickly, and gave me fluids and oxygen.  I was weak but remained in this world, as the ambulance raced to the hospital.
Two broken hands and an extremely smashed head.  I had no air bag to cushion the blow.
            To this day, I wonder what forces put a flatbed truck in my path.  During recovery, I thought a lot about my brush with certain death.  All I knew was that I was alive and awakened to the fragility of life.
Invited guests - usually my class is a little more upbeat and a lot less harrowing than this anecdote!  But I relay this experience today to my students for many reasons.
1-      It’s a story of turning a negative into a positive.  This near fatal mistake made me appreciate life just a little more.  To be curious and try things, regardless of what others think.  I encourage you graduates to be adventurous!
2-     The experience taught me about limits.  That hand-in-hand with taking risks, I better assess the dangers and consequences associated with the risks.
3-     It allowed me to write another chapter in my personal and professional life.  It clarified and focused my attention on going after things that made me happy.  It was education which afforded me this opportunity to become a college professor.
4-     It allowed me time to meet my wife, witness the birth of a child, and then another.
5-     I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that my day-in and day-out work is with students whose age mirror my own at the time of the car accident.  I do know that I stand here today proud of what you’ve achieved in my class and at this university.  I am excited about your very bright futures!
6-     I wanted to tell you something about me that you didn’t get in class, because no matter how well you think you know people, they have stories within them that can surprise you.

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.
            My life's chapter now reads:   Make your own fate and don't leave it to fate.

What does yours say?

c 2009-2016 Perry Binder

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

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

My favorite blog posts over the years involved interviews with great teachers who've inspired students year after year.  This 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, November 16, 2016

Is Technology Improving or Complicating Our Lives?

Speaking pro bono for a retirement community in Alpharetta, Georgia...

Is Technology Improving or Complicating Our Lives?

Dec. 13, 2016
11:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

An Informal Discussion with

Social Media Law Professor, Georgia State University
Author, 99 Motivators for College Success

Perry Binder is a professor in Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business.  He is also an attorney and author of 99 Motivators for College Success, which inspires Millennials to flourish in college and become leaders in the business world.  In 2016, 99 Motivators was selected for the Book Award Program by Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

10th Annual GSU Corporate IP Institute, Oct. 25-26, 2016

Please join us for our two-day conference for Intellectual Property practitioners:

Established in 2007 through Georgia State Law, Robinson College of Business and the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), one of the world’s top IP organizations, to provide a singular forum for over 150 in-house IP professionals to discuss issues they face, exchange ideas, and network locally and nationally.  Speakers come from corporations large and small, national and international organizations, academia, and the bar.

Click here for schedule/brochure (CLE credits)

Click here to register today 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Life Lessons from 99 Motivators for College Success

Article from the Robinson College of Business web page:
The start of the semester can be a stressful time for students, but Perry Binder, associate professor of risk management and insurance at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, is happy to help. “It’s easy to get overwhelmed with a new semester,” Binder says, however, he’s spent a lot of time working on ways to help students conquer those nerves and excel.
Binder’s book, 99 Motivators for College Success, recently was sent to all incoming freshmen by the Randolph College Admissions Office to motivate them to succeed. He wrote the book to compile his experiences as a student and as a professor into a helpful guide that gives students tips for classes, studying, and life.
Click here to continue reading: 10 Ways to Succeed in College and Life

Friday, July 1, 2016

Rio Olympic Athletes: Our School Kids Need to Hear Your Message of Hope

I wrote this article in the early 90's for the 25th Anniversary Event Program, honoring Bob Beamon for the Greatest Track & Field Feat in Olympic History. (Mexico City, 1968)  Its message still resonates today.

by Bob Beamon with Perry Zane Binder

Sometimes when I get home after a particularly hectic day, I'll put on some jazz and take out my African drums to strike up a beat. As I close my eyes, my body succumbs to the rhythmic vibrations of pounding drums. With the stress of the day draining off, I kick back and try to reflect on where I've been and where I'm going. Sometimes my mind wanders back to Mexico City and 1968; but mostly, I think about today and tomorrow, one day at a time.

I work up a good beat and follow the flow. This morning, I went to an elementary school to talk with a few hundred children about precious opportunities. The kids cheered when I showed a replay of the jump. That got their attention. But then one kid laughed when I confided that I couldn't read a book at his age. He didn't mean anything by it, but it's hard to know sometimes who listens closely to the lessons of the past - who we can reach and who remains lost in America's school corridors and neighborhood back alleys.

As a kid growing up in Jamaica, Queens, I could barely find a positive role model in the neighborhood. The money and fancy clothes flashed around by local drug dealers and pimps were tempting and offered a quick way out. The message of sacrifice offered by parents, guardians and teachers who toil anonymously in the trenches was brushed aside to satisfy the appetite of the moment. When a young man today wonders if he'll live to see his twenty-fifth birthday and our babies are having babies, it's easy to identify such an overwhelming sense of resignation on our nation's street corners.

The statistics are mind blowing. Nationwide, an estimated 270,000 firearms are brought to our kids' schools every day. While a recent United Way survey identified that non-profit groups reach out to an estimated 15,000 "at-risk" youth in Dade County, Florida, another 120,000 needy kids aren't getting proper attention. Let's get one thing straight - in some way, all of our youth are at risk. Before we can isolate what makes children tick, their parents must first discover what makes themselves function effectively. Before parents can instill a sense of pride and dignity in a child, before we can talk about molding model citizens, mothers and fathers must feel good about who they are. A stable home life is the first priority our country must address before we can consider the active role that athletes can play in developing healthy minds and bodies.

Obviously, each kid is not going to cross the finish line first, but as Baron Pierre de Courbertin of France (the inspiration behind holding the modern Olympic Games) stated: "The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part; the important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. "

Ultimately, the lesson for our youth to gather is that it is not imperative to take home the gold medal. Champions are not made on the field or track; champions are made according to your accomplishments and abilities in every day life situations. The same tools that I used to succeed athletically can be applied to succeeding personally. Just as practice in long jumping made me successful, practice in whatever your profession or hobby may be will make you equally as successful. A sound work ethic will offer a framework for a youth's self-worth and the impetus to stand up and scream: "I am a Champion!"

One key to my athletic accomplishments, however, is that someone was eventually there to give me an opportunity. Whether it was Larry Ellis, my high school track and field coach, or Ralph Boston, Mr. Long Jump, a helping hand guided me to focus out distractions and concentrate on honing my skills.

While an Olympic jump gave me notoriety and stature, that success does not define who I am. But sports did give me a backdrop of discipline to apply each day. This stable force helps me to face the realities of keeping up with today's rigors. Our children must be taught such lessons from sports - how to set realistic goals, stick to them, work through them and redefine them to stretch their talents to new heights.

Because as the image of an eternal Olympic torch burns an indelible message of hope and respect in our hearts and minds, the flame is beginning to flicker. The fire in our neighborhood streets is simply suffocating the spirit and dreams of every kid who is taken for granted and not given an opportunity to flourish.

The great news is that high profile athletes are anxious to offer their time to find solutions. From Nate Archibald in Harlem to James Worthy in Compton and everyone in between the two coasts, athletes are coming to the rescue of young people in vast numbers. The simple point is that we have the ability to attract a kid's attention. Let's use our gifts constructively.

The boys and girls growing up in America are the wind beneath my wings. They are my motivation for rising each morning with an inspired outlook. So tonight, my eyes are open as I allow the drum beat to guide my thoughts about yesterday and today. About Mexico City. About some anonymous kids marking time by hanging out on the corner. About tomorrow's journey.

My beat is strong and fluid now, yet it seeks interpretation and clarity. It reaches out for your understanding and support.

The beat goes on. It simply has to.

1994 Bio: Perry Zane Binder is a sports radio talk show host on WSBH in Miami Beach (Love of the Game).
c 1994-2016 Perry Binder

Friday, June 3, 2016

Speaking at GSU Summer Leadership Academy on Career Paths, Majors & Leadership

Looking forward to speaking again with talented and motivated Atlanta high school students on June 23!  

Career Tips for High School Students

99 Motivators for College Success – Excerpts
© 2012-2016 Perry Binder, LLC

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. 

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) 
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.