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pioneerblog-brucehutton1I have spent most of the past two weeks at home studying accounting and statistics.  Today, I parted company with my textbooks for a few hours to have lunch with the accomplished Dr. Bruce Hutton, Dean Emeritus of the Daniels College of Business. After Dr. Hutton and I bonded over our mutual love of Cobb salad, horses, and our elderly relatives, he was kind enough to give me some excellent advice about life, Daniels, and how to get the most out of my upcoming graduate program.  Here are some of the things I learned from speaking with Dr. Hutton.

  • Just do it. Dr. Hutton was the first member of his immediate family to attend college. Because his uncle was a banker, Dr. Hutton decided to follow in his footsteps, earning an undergraduate degree in finance. Although Dr. Hutton realized that banking was not his passion, his undergraduate degree empowered him to pursue his education all the way to the doctoral level.
  • Work hard, and be humble. At one point during our conversation, Dr. Hutton said that he had been “lucky” in life. I could not help but laugh—after reading his 32-page resume, I knew that his success was not the result of luck but of hard work and persistence. Dr. Hutton’s humility also extended to his resume; on the last page, he writes, “Accomplishments, such as the ones listed above, are never the result of one person’s hard work and dedication. Rather, they are the result of the combined efforts of people who have the same vision.”
  • If you fail (or even if you pass), try again. While in college, Dr. Hutton took a challenging class and received a (passing) grade that he did not like. Rather than accepting the grade, he retook the class, studied even harder, and earned an “A.”
  • Balance is important. While in school, Dr. Hutton played many sports, from horseback riding to football. Later in life, he got married and raised a close-knit family. Somehow, he still found time to become the dean of our esteemed business school, to completely reshape the Daniels curriculum, to create NetImpact, and to win countless awards (to name just a few of his many accomplishments). In our conversation, he dedicated equal amounts of time to speaking about his family and speaking about his career. Evidently, both hold great value in his life. Balance matters.
  • Be generous. Dr. Hutton has donated his time, knowledge, and energy to countless nonprofit organizations over the years. His generosity also extends to his everyday life. He was doing me a favor by meeting with me, but he insisted on paying for our lunch.  I was awestruck by his kindness.
  • Develop an ethical framework from which to view the world. Dr. Hutton discussed his sister’s business, which provides materials (hats, banners, etc.) for university events across the country. I joked that if his sister’s company worked with Daniels, Dr. Hutton should get a “brother discount.” Dr. Hutton laughed graciously, but pointed out that there might be ethical issues surrounding a “brother discount.” His gentle clarification demonstrated his commitment to ethics, even in lighthearted, hypothetical situations.
  • Make an effort to escape your comfort zone. In life, our tendency is to fall into patterns. We sit, work, study, and play with the same group of people every day. Breaking out of our habits to seek diversity and new perspectives takes effort, but holds tremendous value.
  • Join student organizations at Daniels. Student organizations are a helpful way to connect with people outside of your cohort, program, and/or concentration. Each organization has its own “personality,” so attend a few meetings to find a group that sparks your interest. If you’re a continuing student, give the organizations you did not join last year another try, remembering that when the leadership and membership of a group changes, so do the dynamics of that group.

Dr. Hutton’s charisma was contagious and I left our lunch feeling enlightened and inspired. I was sad to part ways with Dr. Hutton, but happily for me he agreed to meet again for lunch in a few weeks. I can hardly wait to learn more from this kind, thoughtful, and legendary man.