Fall commencement address, photos online
“ATTITUDE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE”
Former Campus Student George Adda Stresses
Faith, Confidence and Respect
"Your attitude will always control your actions, and your attitude will also always determine your altitude (or success) in your career and in your life. You must realize that you, and only you, control your attitude by the thoughts that you hold."
-- George Adda, Commencement Address, 22 December 2012,
Penn State New Kensington.
The fall commencement address, “Attitude Makes the Difference,” delivered Dec. 22 by George Adda to the fall class of 2012 at Penn State New Kensington, is posted on the campus website. Mixing humor with sage advice, Adda, a former New Kensington student, prepared the new Penn Staters for life after college. Adda, vice president for corporate marketing for the Elliott Group, earned his bachelor's and degree at Penn State University Park. He stressed to the new alumni that attitude will always control their actions, and their success can only be maximized when they have faith, confidence, and mutual respect for others.
Fifty graduates earned their baccalaureate and associate degrees. Kevin Snider, chancellor, and Andrea Adolph, director of academic affairs, conferred the four- and two-year degrees. The new graduates were inducted into the Penn State Alumni Association by Kerry Kelly, president of the Alle-Kiski Society, the local chapter of the PSAA. For photos of the ceremony, visit http://psnk.smugmug.com/
"Your productivity, and ultimately your success, can only and will only be maximized when you have faith, confidence, and mutual respect for each other. And you will be no greater than that respect. Underlying that respect must be faith that each of you was designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness!"
-- George Adda, Commencement Address, 22 December 2012, Penn State New Kensington.
“Attitude Makes the Difference”
by George Adda
Dr. Snider, faculty, staff, advisory board members, and, most importantly, students and their families who are here this morning, congratulations, and thank you for the opportunity to share in this moment. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be here and to be associated with such an outstanding University. I'm very proud of Penn State, and grateful that Penn State has a local campus in New Kensington that provides students with an opportunity, not a guarantee, but an opportunity to get a world class education at an affordable price.
It's hard to believe that over 38 years have passed since I attended my own commencement at
University Park in Beaver Stadium on Saturday, June 1, 1974. I had one day off before beginning a new journey in life. A career that began with Lufkin Industries on Monday morning, June 3, 1974, with great anticipation and excitement, spanning over 38 years until my retirement this past June. Well, it didn't take long to fail my very first test in retirement, as I didn't heed the advice of Lufkin’s board chairman who said, "George, for the first year of retirement, when the phone rings, just pick it up, say no, and hang up.” It was an unexpected and very humbling experience when I received five unsolicited job inquiries during the first nine days of retirement. So, I began a new journey and launched a second career with Elliott Group in Jeannette at the end of September. I have it on very good authority that this career will not last another 38 years.
This morning, I want to talk to you about the journey you are about to begin, while briefly touching on the subjects of accountability, responsibility, productivity, and respect for each other.
There are really only two distinct and very different paths that you may choose to travel. You can journey down the path to happiness and success in your career and in your life, or you can journey down the path to mediocrity and failure. Each of you will be individually accountable and responsible for your actions and performance, and ultimately for the path that you choose to travel.
Let’s examine the different groups of people and the characteristics that lead to traveling one path or the other. I believe there are three basic groups of people in the world today, whether it’s in relation to their employment situation or in relation to their situation in life in general.
Group 1 – People who Make things happen!
Group 2 – People who Watch things happen!
Group 3 – People who Wonder, “What happened?”
Let’s begin by briefly considering the traits of those in Group 3, the people who wonder what happened. These people are experts in the area of making decisions. That may surprise some of you, but they frequently make no decision, and no decision is, in fact, a decision! It’s a decision to do nothing! And, that’s basically what they do. These people just don’t care. They don’t kid themselves, and they certainly don’t fool their management. They never give or seek assistance, and they always take the glory, but never share the credit. These people are always more concerned with how they appear to look to their management than they are concerned with doing a good job.
Next, let’s consider the traits of those in Group 2, the people who watch things happen. These people usually do more wishing than they do working. They go through the motions or mechanics of the job all right, but that’s about where they believe their responsibility ends.
Down deep, they realize that there are many stones left unturned, but they never admit it. They only kid themselves and believe that they are fooling their management. They usually do what’s easy, rather than digging in and facing new challenges head on. They resist change, which reminds me of a story of the guy whose wife sent him to the store to buy a ham. When he came home, his wife asked if he remembered to get the end of the ham cut off. He said, “No.” She said, “I thought you knew that I always get the end of the ham cut off.” He said “Why?” She said “I get the end of the ham cut off because my mama gets the end of the ham cut off.” He said, “Well, your mama’s in the kitchen, so let’s go ask her.” They went into the kitchen and said, “Mama, why do you get the end of the ham cut off?” And she said, “I get the end of the ham cut off because my mama gets the end of the ham cut off.” He said, “Well, let’s just call Grandma and solve this three generation mystery.” So, he called Grandma and asked, “Grandma, why do you get the end of the ham cut off?” Grandma said, “I get the end of the ham cut off because my roaster’s too short!” Let’s remember, in order to make progress and improve ourselves, we must learn to "live in the fringes of fear,” doing things that we haven’t done before.
There’s an old Hindu proverb that says true nobility is not being superior to another man, but rather, true nobility is being superior to one’s previous self! And, so when we ask ourselves as individuals if we are doing something today to make ourselves better than yesterday, then we can’t help but lay the foundation for a better tomorrow – a better tomorrow for each of us as individuals, as families, as universities, and yes, a better tomorrow for this country.
After a period of time, people who watch things happen will often begin to rationalize their own limited success and to consider the more successful people, or the people who make things happen, as “just lucky.” I believe that most of us have an old standby expression we use when we see someone else succeed – we call it luck. And I have also come to believe that this is the expression we use for successful people who we do not like! Think about it – all the people you like are smart and work hard. It’s the ones who you don’t like and envy that are lucky, aren’t they? I believe that people who make things happen, whether they are in sales, engineering, education, or whatever – life in general – are in fact lucky! Yes, they’re lucky that they aren’t lazy! And if that’s the only luck you have, that’s enough! A wise man once said that a lazy man is full of excuses, and an excuse is a thin shell of truth stuffed with a lie.
I once heard a story that sums up excuses about as plainly and clearly as I think you will ever hear. The story goes that a man wanted to borrow his neighbor’s axe. When he asked to borrow the axe, his neighbor said, “I can’t loan you my axe because I am cooking vegetable soup.” So the man asked, “What in the world does that have to do with you not being able to loan me your axe?” And the neighbor said, “Well, it really doesn’t have anything to do with it, but if I don’t want to loan you my axe, one excuse is just as good as another!” Remember, successful people do the things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do, or are unwilling to do; they might not like to do them either, but they just do them anyway.
Now let’s consider Group No. 1, the people who make things happen, keeping in mind that these traits apply to whatever your profession or endeavor in life may be. People in Group 1, the people who make things happen, believe that they can accomplish anything they make up their minds to do. Because they believe it, they develop a burning desire to achieve it. Their actions reflect this burning desire and belief that they can, and will, become “the best at what they do.” Remember, it’s always better to shoot for the moon and land in the mud than it is to shoot for the mud and hit. And, I am certain that those in Group 1 would much rather attempt something great and fail, than attempt nothing and succeed.
People who make things happen never leave a stone unturned. Their comments and criticism are always given with the best interest of progress in mind. They stand for what they believe in, and clearly understand that if you don’t stand for something, then you stand for nothing; people who stand for nothing make few mistakes, are seldom criticized, and never accomplish much in their careers or in their lives. As Winston Churchill said, “People who make things happen never, never, never quit.” They exemplify the attitude that while they might go onto the battlefield and not win, they go out there determined not to lose. Personally, I prefer the way General Patton said it: “You didn’t come here to die for your country; you came here to make them die for their country.”
People in Group 1 know, appreciate, and understand the value of developing warm, lasting relationships built on dependability, honesty, and trust. People who make things happen are team players in every respect, and always give and seek assistance as required. They never take the glory, but always share the credit. They clearly understand that you can never, ever, be one type of leader and another type of person. They exemplify the attitude that “what you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say!” In other words, people watch your feet, not your lips; they watch what you do, not what you say; and they judge you on your performance, not your promises! One of President Reagan’s favorite sayings was a General Omar Bradley quote which he displayed on Harry Truman’s hand-carved wooden desk in the oval office, “You can accomplish anything if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
Now that we have identified the paths that we can travel, let’s consider the basic difference between people in Groups 1, 2, and 3. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the one basic, obvious difference between the people in these three groups is the difference in their attitudes. And, that’s the title of this speech, “Attitude Makes the Difference.” Your attitude will always control your actions, and your attitude will also always determine your altitude (or success) in your career and in your life. You must realize that you, and only you, control your attitude by the thoughts that you hold. Most of the time, when you are not talking to another person, you are talking to yourself; therefore, it is extremely important to be very careful what you talk to yourself about, because your thoughts control your attitude, your attitude controls your actions, and your actions ultimately determine your success.
As you begin your journey in life, and as we pause for a few moments to celebrate your achievement this morning, I urge each and every one of you to remember something. Your productivity, and ultimately your success, can only and will only be maximized when you have faith, confidence, and mutual respect for each other. And you will be no greater than that respect. Underlying that respect must be faith that each of you was designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness! So, let’s lift each other up, encourage each other, and as we celebrate your achievement, let’s also dedicate ourselves to being the best and most productive people that we know how to be!
The traditional recessional of new Penn State alumni.
LIST OF GRADUATES
College of Information Sciences and Technology
Bachelor of Science, Information Sciences and Technology
Michael T. Clark, Christopher W.C. Gurosik, Steven T. Markilinski,
Christopher L. Ross, Brian L. Schroeder, Shawn A. Swartz, Alyssa M. Weidow
College of Liberal Arts
Bachelor of Science, Organizational Leadership
Matthew D. Frantz 00, Darin L. Hepler, Shawn P. Simpson, Stephen R. Turpin, Ronald E. Wolfe 000
School of Nursing
Bachelor of Science, Nursing
Cynthia L. Arnold, Deandra F. Barron, Cari A. Chavira, Brittany M. Coleman,
Christina Danzuso, Allison L. Sakala, Maddison A. Stimmler, Raymone L. Thomas, Amanda L. Vasilopus
Smeal College of Business
Bachelor of Science, Supply Chain and Information Systems
Derek R. Ralph
Bachelor of Science, Administration of Justice
Hunter M. Chechak, Jacob H. Quast
Bachelor of Arts, Applied Psychology
Erin L. Holleran, Alexa N. Kreger , Haley D. Shaffer
Bachelor of Science, Business
Megan L. Emanuel, Michael J. Gromley, Lambra Nemeth, Michael P. Palumbo,
Lisa M. Pattock 000, Vanessa R. Peck, Alexa M. Prosky
Bachelor of Arts, Communications
Amanda D. Blystone, Candis M. Downey, Heidi M. Kolar, Erica L. Seifert, Megan E. Zidek
Bachelor of Science, Information Sciences and Technology
Ryan J. Kalmar, Mark S. Messina, Christopher M. Rae, Lauren E. Richards,
Matthew C. Schrader, Kyle J. Wolski
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
Laura A. Sciamanna-Dinsmo
Bachelor of Science, Psychology
Alisha J. Roudebush
Bachelor of Science, Business
Alexandra C. Ventura
College of Engineering
Mechanical Engineering Technology
Tomas A. Berkemeijer, Matthew L. Summers 00
College of Liberal Arts
Letters, Arts, and Sciences
Jenna E. Herstek
0 Highest Distinction 00 High Distinction 000 Distinction