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The Evolution of a Beer Guy

Updated: May 16

What were those times when you experienced a significant life event that moved you into a new realm of uncertainty, possibility, and growth? 

Before you read further, please take a moment to reflect on that time and find gratitude for the lessons learned and how they shaped you into the person you are today. What core values enabled you to transition successfully? What attitudes helped you overcome those big challenges (to rise from the ashes with renewal and purpose)?

As leaders, we often find ourselves at a crossroads, faced with challenges that demand we evolve and transform. These pivotal moments can be daunting but also present opportunities for profound growth and self-discovery. I believe we are in a crucial moment as the marketplace and workplace continue to change dramatically.

From Beer Guy to DEI Guy


I recently had the privilege of visiting my alma mater, Elon University, where I was reminded of one of my earliest evolutionary experiences – going to college.

I can only describe my transition from a "beer guy" to a college student as a divine intervention. After two years of attending community college part-time and working at a beer distributorship, I left the center of Florida with my street smarts for my new home in central North Carolina. I had no plan, no vision, and no money. I just knew slinging beer for the rest of my life wasn't sustainable, so I took a leap of faith, faith that I would figure it out along the way as a new path emerged.

As a first-generation college student responsible for financing my education, the journey was filled with uncertainties and sacrifices. Yet, during those formative years, I cultivated the resilience, curiosity, and independence that shaped my leadership journey. In those years, I expanded my mind and engaged new types of people and new ways of thinking. It is why my passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a major part of my life. Elon created the DEI acorn that now exists as a strong oak! (In Hebrew, "Elon" can mean oak tree or strong tree)

From Fighting Christians to A Rising Phoenix

Elon was charted as a four-year coeducational College in 1889. Moving into the 2000s, Elon catapulted to a new level, becoming a university and changing its mascot identity, the Phoenix. Just as the mythical Phoenix rises from the ashes, Elon overcame numerous setbacks over the years, including devastating fires. The adoption of the Phoenix as its mascot symbolizes the institution's commitment to renewal, transformation, and a broader effort to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all students, regardless of their background or beliefs – values that resonated deeply with my own experiences.

Reflecting on these transformative moments, I'm grateful for the core values and attitudes that enabled my successful transitions. Perseverance, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace change were essential in navigating the unfamiliar territories ahead.

Evolution as a Catalyst for Reaching New Heights

For leaders, these transformative experiences serve as catalysts for personal and professional growth. They challenge us to drop our limiting beliefs, question our assumptions, and embrace new perspectives. In these moments, we have the opportunity to redefine ourselves, our leadership styles, and our approach to creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for those we lead.

As you reflect on your own journey, I encourage you to pause and honor the transformative moments that have shaped your leadership path. Embrace the Phoenix within, rising from the ashes of uncertainty and adversity, reborn with renewed strength, wisdom, and a commitment to continuous growth.

Remember, in these crucial moments, we have the greatest potential to inspire and lead with authenticity, empathy, and a deep understanding of the human experience.

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