Going Back to College

by Colonel Steve Akley


I started writing in early 2013 and I can't believe what has happened to me in the almost five years I have now been doing this. I've had a bestselling book on Amazon, started a podcast network, had my books featured on TV, written a biography about my Dad, met many of my heroes from the world of bourbon. The list goes on-and-on.

Still, despite all of these very satisfying accomplishments, perhaps the coolest one just occurred. I received an invitation to speak at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, my alma mater.

A fraternity (Delta Chi) invited me to speak to their members, along with anyone else from the university that wanted to listen. The topic was to be about business, careers, success.

I haven't done that sort of speech before, so I just thought about it in my mind for at least a month. What it would sound like. How I would address the students. I also needed a lesson. I was being brought in, not to address a luncheon group that wanted to be entertained, this group wanted to learn.

Over 40 people showed up which I thought was a great number of attendees. I ended up speaking for over an hour. I went through my entire career. I managed to hit on some points that were important learning points for individuals just getting ready to start their career journeys. I emphasized managing finances, learn from failure, know your plans can evolve and take the curve balls life throws at you in stride.

The evening ended with a standing ovation. I couldn't have been more proud to be back at my school, some 25+ years after I graduated to address students there. Afterwards, many of the students came up to shake my hand and ask me questions. A few asked for some career advice. The staff contact who oversees the fraternity asked me if I would consider becoming an honorary member. I would be joining such famous individuals as Robert Todd Lincoln and William Jennings Bryant who had done the same thing. 

Of course, I graciously accepted their invitation. I will be heading back to school again in the near future to become an honorary member of Delta Chi.  

It was simply a very good day.