Giving Thanks

There are a few things that are hard to say. “I am sorry” is one of the sentences I dread every time I have to express it. I remember being a 10 year old boy standing in front of the wife of the baker from whom I had stolen some chewing gum  and awaiting her response after my apology. I felt so badly that I broke the law and disappointed her. I wanted to repay everything. And, she was very gracious. I still remember that feeling – and, I have not stolen chewing gum since. I had to say “I am sorry” many more times since then that were even more embarrassing.

There is another thing that I find equally difficult yet important to say. “Thank you”. I am not talking about the “thanks” you say when somebody is holding open the door, or when the waiter brings the food over. I am talking about thanking your friends that have helped you in difficult situations that have offered their support when a loved one passed away. I find it hard to give thanks because I acknowledge how vulnerable I am without my friends, and how important their help was; I know that every day of my life, but talking about it is hard. I also find it hard because I can never quite guess what happens when I thank someone. I remember losing my voice and tearing up when I thanked a World War II veteran at the opening day of the World War II memorial. He was one of the people who truly provided freedom for me and I was overwhelmed shaking his hand. Without the US and this soldier, Switzerland might have become part of Nazi Germany.

I think it’s absolutely crucial to give thanks. Here we go.

I am extremely grateful to the Center for Entrepreneurship staff:

Susan, who makes the CFE the nice place it is. She is the friendly front-person for all of us, the reason many students and friends come back after the first visit. She is the one that keeps track of the things that totally matter – and we only know they do when they don’t work. Susan, thanks so much.

Aileen and Amy started working at the CFE very recently. It is so much fun to see how they are gaining speed and how they are making ideas become a reality. I am grateful for their excitement they bring to the job and their commitment to success. The day Amy started, I joined a gym because I finally had the time again to spend an hour each day to work out. Thanks for that.

Most people coming into the CFE don’t know Judi. She has two beautiful twins together with her husband, who works down the hall from me. Well, without her, this blog-post, as well as many other things we do at the CFE, would be having typos or it might even sound like a Swiss accent put into writing… Thanks to Judi for all she does!

But, there are so many partners without whom we cannot imagine being successful.

Besides my staff, there is one key group that provides most of the inputs and also most of the excitement to all of us: our students. There are student entrepreneurs we see blossom from almost shy innovators into seasoned entrepreneurs. Many of these students are part of my favorite student organization: MPowered Entrepreneurship. We are struggling to get journalists to tell how important MPowered is for everything we do. I cannot think of many CFE successes I am proud of in which MPowered did not have a significant or even leading role. I am very proud of you guys! Thank you.

Thanks to our friends. Judy who stepped up to do the website – while doing a PhD; Bill for his great advice and feedback – he is great! The entire COE PR group for their work, and especially Mira for coming up with our look; Jeff and Marc for their classes – they rock!

Finally, thanks to the leaders of the College of Engineering, the University of Michigan, and organizations beyond that, who focus on success and seek to find solutions to issues we stumble into. Thanks for their patience and guidance as we learn how to best do our job, and how to collaborate with various organizations.
Well – you get my point! I will do the “I am sorry” list some other time 😉

Comments (4)
  • ken ludwig

    December 4, 2008

    Thanks, I’m sorry I didn’t think of it myself. Since you are not stealing chewing gum anymore what are you stealing? OK end of jokes. Leadership is best demonstrated by example. This is a very good one.

    Please write the “I’m sorry” list in time for Winter break so we all have a couple of weeks to read all of it. To borrow a word, best, ken

  • judyyu

    December 4, 2008

    In the spirit of your post I think it is safe to say we all appreciate your leadership at the helm of CFE. You’ve made it a dynamic and exciting entity and I am proud to have a small association with it.

  • Thomas

    December 4, 2008

    Ken – I already know a few people I missed from the “thank you” post. That would be a good start of the “I am sorry” post…

  • Thomas

    December 8, 2008

    Israel – I noticed that I inadvertently missed your name in my blog-post. I am sorry for that. Your name is related to the center as much as any of ours. You are one of the founders of MPowered and your involvement was crucial for both the idea and also the execution of 1000 pitches. You are also essential for running our seminar – you’re the only guy who understands all technology aspects. You also serve as a mentor and consultant to many students.

    So – thanks to you and your amazing patience with our students, and also with me. Thomas

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