The Big “H”

Howard “H” White is a man who wears many hats (usually a fedora to work). He is a father, philanthropist, motivational speaker, author, and businessman. He’s never been one to let his job title to define, so if you’re curious you should look him up.

ImageRegardless of all his achievements he is humble and says hello to everyone he passes, after learning the lesson from his mother Lillian White, “Even a dog can wag its tail when it passes you on the street.” H has given speeches all over the world but he especially likes talking to children. I’ve seen him speak twice to high school students and both times I was in awe of his presence on stage. Other speakers shared their stories before him. Both we charismatic, confident, and had entertaining stories; but to see H speak was a completely different experience. He is the greatest communicator I’ve ever witnessed. A professor in college told him she had only seen two students ever command the attention of the entire room; one was H and the other was Bill Cosby.

From hearing him speak I was compelled to dive into reading his book Believe to Achieve: See the Invisible, Do the Impossible. When I finished his amazing assistant, Cheryl, set up a time for me to go into his office and discuss my thoughts on the book with him, and I thought I would obtain some insights about how to be successful in business. Our meeting was only scheduled for 30 minutes but it ended up being a two-hour discussion about his story, life, movies, and pretty everything under the sun. I still asked my business questions but the answers were not what I expected to hear.

ImageKD: “What do you think makes a good employee?”

HW: “I don’t really look at the résumés as much as I look at the little things. I look at who that person is and how they handle themselves.”

When it came time for Mr. White to choose a new assistant he received many résumés and recommendations from very qualified and talented people, but that didn’t matter. He chose a receptionist named Cheryl. Cheryl has a passion for the company, a bubbly personality, but most importantly she greeted everyone who entered the building with courtesy and respect regardless of their position.

KD: “Why do you feel you have been so successful?”

Besides making his bed everyday (which he explains in his book), H could not answer this question because he feels success is subjective. However he does have advice for how to make oneself successful.

My talk with Howard White was nothing short of enlightening, and I look forward to any future talks I may have with him. I could rattle off many more lessons he taught me but unfortunately this is a blog post and not a novel.

Kelsey Doherty

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9 Responses to The Big “H”

  1. Wow! That’s awesome, Kelsey! It’s always a great feeling when you go in to meet with someone, questions ready and all, and it ends up being an organic, free-flowing and interesting conversation AND your questions still get answered. I applaud you for taking the initiative to not only dive head first into his book, but make an appointment to go have a one-on-one with him. Sounds like his book is a must-read! Great post, Kelsey!

  2. jamesynwa says:

    It definitely says something about the guy that he was wiling to have such an intimate and honest conversation with you. I’m sure you learned so much more than you had expected! Sounds like you did all the right things along the way and were duly rewarded for your effort too, which is always nice. Friendliness and charisma can go a long way!

  3. What an incredible opportunity to talk to an incredible person! I’m so glad you shared some of his insight with the rest of us on the blog. It’s affirming to hear someone say that success is a subjective thing. Sometimes I get the impression that if you don’t end up going getting your Ph.D. and working for an important institution or making a lot of money, you’re not socially considered “successful.” I think it’s becoming more important than ever to identify your OWN goals for your life, and not try to align yourself with someone else’s definition. I think you’re more likely to end up happy if you stay true to yourself.

  4. Very cool post! That’s great that you were able to get that chance to pick the brain of such a Nike big wig. He’s seems like a really interesting guy. It’s great to hear that he was so willing to take time out of his, I’m assuming very busy, day. It’s clear from your post that he’s eager to advise young professionals and I’m sure from you left your two-hour meeting with more information than you entered thinking you were going to get. Hopefully you’ll get another chance to check in with him before your internship ends!

  5. I thought this was really cool too! I can’t imagine how stoked you must’ve been when you scheduled the appointment to talk with him. Was he the same in person as he was on stage? It sounds like he had a lot of good things to say. I’ll be checking out more of those videos!

  6. shannonsloan says:

    I think it’s great that you had a chance to sit down and talk to him, let alone for two hours. I am not familiar with him but this post has definitely peaked my interest and I plan on doing some research soon. I really enjoyed the part about his receptionist, it’s not all about the resume, personality matters too. I think one thing that we are all learning through this process is the importance of being personable and friendly, at least I have. I have a lot of respect for someone who doesn’t let success go to their head and I think those are excellent people to be getting advice from. I hope you can have more opportunities like this in the next few weeks!

  7. McKenzie Ingram says:

    You are a rockstar. I don’t know many people who would show this kind of initiative, just to hear what someone has to say. You are clearly going to be successful in whatever type of work you dive into.

    Whether you know it or not, you are opening so many doors for yourself. Connecting, networking and showing a general interest in other people’s work will carry you so far. Props! And thanks for the inspiration!

  8. zolfaghari says:

    How exciting! You definitely got to talk to someone in a position that that I feel like many of us wish we could have the opportunity to speak with. What a awesome experience for you that must of been. What other questions did you ask him? And how did you manage to break the ice when you first walked in to his office? Or was he the type of personality where his presence alone is an ice breaker? Great stuff, Kelsey.

  9. Allyson Will says:

    That was an awesome post! I wish I was able to hear your entire conversation with him. You must have felt so motivated after leaving his office. There is nothing I love more than getting great advice from someone who has achieved individual success. I agree with what H said that success is subjective. It really is hard to measure success because everyones starting point is completely different.

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