Monday, April 17, 2017

My College Graduation Speech and Obituary for All Students

To My Students, the "Class of 2017" - 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.

"Class of 2017" - What does yours say?

c 2009-2017 Perry Binder

Friday, March 24, 2017

FREE Goodreads Book Giveaway: 99 Motivators 4 College Success begins MARCH 26

Congrats to Rhonda & Izzy - Winners from 512 contest entries

Goodreads Book Giveaway: 99 Motivators 4 College Success begins MARCH 26
- Two Signed copies available. 
- Selected for the 2016/2017 Book Award Program by Randolph College in Virginia. Each year, the College's Alumni Office selects and sends a special book to hundreds of rising high school seniors nationwide, who are academically strong and possess leadership potential.

Legal Studies professor Perry Binder wrote 99 Motivators for College Success to inspire college freshmen to succeed the moment they enter college. The book contains motivational stories, quotes, and bite-sized tips for Millennials to succeed in the classroom and pick a career path. In 99 Motivators, Professor Binder gives away all of his secrets, including how to write model college essay exam answers, and what skills are needed to succeed in a post-college career.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

College Admissions Counselors: Avoid Summer Melt with 10 Tips for Your Deposited Students

My university (Georgia State) has many First Gen students. I offer these 10 tips to motivate them over the summer. The tips are excerpts from my book, 99 Motivators for College Success, which colleges can mail to their deposited students:

10 Motivators for Professional Success

1. Don't let anyone crush your professional dreams.  However, the riskier your dream, the better your backup plan must be.
            Fly with a net or no net?

2. Live life with no regrets.  Sometimes doing the “wrong thing” may be the right thing for you.  Just be prepared to deal with the consequences.

3. The most important thing during school 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.

4. Do what you love but don't let your career choices jeopardize anyone you love. Including yourself.
Translation 1: 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."
Translation 2: Do you know how to say NO to people you love or work with?

5. 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) 

6. Don't rely on luck or fate in your career.  Professional success is about putting yourself in a position to create numerous opportunities.
            Can networking actually be fun?
7. 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.

8. Do you recognize impactful career opportunities when they present themselves?  If you go for it, do you know what it means to push all of your chips into the middle?

9. Clean up your social media presence online!  What's publicly available might not bode well for your future employment. 

10. Always have fun!
            Well, I could only come up with 9 legit suggestions :)

Excerpt99 Motivators for College Success

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Asheville, Atlanta, Toronto: Presenting "Teaching Justice Issues with Three Law Case Outcomes of Yes, No, and Maybe"

Over the next few months, I'll be hitting the road to present these justice issues, which form the basis of my Teacher's Guide to Justice Cases for the Classroom:


Unlike Hollywood law dramas, which neatly wrap up cases in an hour or two, achieving actual justice through the legal system is often slow, frustrating, and requires patience and persistence.

Below are real cases that I have studied, written about, and in some instances, maintained contact with the legal underdogs involved.  Each case has deeply personal significance to me for different reasons, and thus I write about them in the first person.  My hope is that if teachers and students experience my passion and engagement, they may be inspired to follow a local, national, or international cause and choose to participate as an impactful voice, whether through social media or some other avenue.

Summary of the Three Legal Underdog Cases

(1)  Grandpa v. Coal Mining Company.  A mining company dumped coal waste in a dammed river, with an elementary school directly downstream.  Elevated incidences of cancer were reported for school staff and students, prompting a student’s grandfather to walk 400 miles to get an audience with his U.S. Senator.  Grandpa tried to secure funding to build a new school, away from the coal company.

Perry’s Personal Connection:  For years, I taught a justice course using a book, The Buffalo Creek Disaster.  The author of that book represented plaintiffs in West Virginia, where a dam with coal waste gave way, and devastated coal miners and their families living downstream:  125 dead. 1000 homes destroyed. 4,000 survivors reliving the horror.  That case was from the 1970’s.  When I read about Grandpa’s case, I could not believe that history could potentially repeat itself in the 21st century, this time with students and teachers in harm’s way.  I became a Facebook administrator for Grandpa’s cause, and interviewed people connected to his initiative.

(2)  9/11 Families v. U.S. Government.  Ten days after 9/11, Congress passed the Victim Compensation Fund.  Its purpose was to provide monetary relief to injured individuals on the ground and for family members of those who died.  Ninety six families bypassed the Fund and filed lawsuits, seeking answers from the government on what security breaches occurred on that fateful day.

Perry’s Personal Connection:  The students reading about this case are likely not old enough to remember September 11, 2001.  I am originally from New York City and felt as helpless as anyone that day.  Living in Atlanta, I wanted to be connected to New Yorkers somehow.  Soon thereafter, I set up a website, 9-11 Civil Liability, with case updates and other information, and corresponded with a few family members seeking legal counsel.

(3)  Innocent Man? v. D.A.’s Office.  A father and son were arrested for alleged child molestation acts committed in their basement.  The father, a retired high school teacher who was teaching computer classes in his home, entered into a plea deal.  While maintaining his innocence, he believed that his plea would somehow benefit the son’s case.  However, facing a hostile community and life in prison if convicted, the teenager accepted a plea deal too.  Years later, the son was granted an “Actual Innocence” hearing, to try to clear his name.

Perry’s Personal Connection:  The father was my favorite high school teacher, and I was confused and emotional as the facts of the case unfolded.  I've published three articles on the son’s case (while maintaining an objective stance concerning his innocence), and get periodic updates from his Twitter feed and representative.

Please keep reading here, and then learn just how long it takes to achieve justice -- or not!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Justice Cases for Students

I created a new blog with student reading on the justices case I've followed closely over the years.  For teachers, there is a Teacher Guide with lessons on how to teach justice issues in the classroom.

Introduction to Justice Cases

Unlike Hollywood law dramas, which neatly wrap up cases in an hour or two, achieving actual justice through the legal system is often slow, frustrating, and requires patience and persistence.

Below are real cases that I have studied, written about, and in some instances, maintained contact with the legal underdogs involved.  Each case has deeply personal significance to me for different reasons, and thus I write about them in the first person.  My hope is that if teachers and students experience my passion and engagement, they may be inspired to follow a local, national, or international cause and choose to participate as an impactful voice, whether through social media or some other avenue.

(1)  Grandpa v. Coal Mining Company.
(2)  9/11 Families v. U.S. Government.
(3)  Innocent Man? v. D.A.’s Office.

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.

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