Sunday, July 5, 2015

Edgewater 6

Post Graduate

A slow starter in school. At St. Luke they decided I would be best served by repeating Grade 1. High School years focused on commercial art the minimum required study of subjects considered necessary for someone who was presumed to be college bound. An undergraduate college student overachiever albeit misguided. (To me, the study of art. believing it to be a noble and necessary study for a person hoping to one day make a living in some aspect of design, communication and/or advertising. Along the way attracted to creative writing and the allied interest in contemporary literature.)

Blame my parents for the proclivity in favor of the arts. Dad made a fine living owning and operating a business offering art/advertising/photography. In his free time he was always drawing and painting. His body of work was notably cartoon balloon headed people, watercolors and larger format abstract mixed media. Mom was passionate about theater. She was intimately involved in community theater productions as actress and director. These were obsessions that became part of who I was too.

Coming to the commencement of my undergraduate college experience with the sudden realization that I knew next to nothing about running a business, the University of Miami was willing to grant me an excuse to delay becoming a grown up and pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA). 

An intensive Summer session - Program in Management Studies (PMS) would be all I needed to be considered equally qualified to Accounting Major David Goldberg. (I kid of course – Goldberg would forever be more business savvy than me. You can concentrate on the meaning of life or making a living. I still favor the former to the later. I was never pragmatic when it came to educational choices. David Goldberg and his ilk could sail through business school courses on the way to an MBA – for me and my liberal arts sensibilities it was a bit more challenging.

David Drimer was an important touchstone for me in this educational epoch. It was a graduate assistant position that allowed me to continue schooling. Drimer convinced me that forgoing the big bad world in favor of an additional educational credential was a good idea. Like me, Dave is more a student of life than making a living but a very smart dude nevertheless. He was convincing in his argument in favor of pursuing the MBA, especially since we both managed obtain tuition remission and a small stipend as admissions representatives. So over the course of two years I was able to visit 300 high schools in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the U.S. Dave traveled in the metropolitan NY and Mid Atlantic regions. So Dave, Rick, Eric, Tom and I took the UM show on the road part of the year and managed light campus duties upon return. Tuition remission, travel and a marketable graduate degree would put me solidly on the road to whatever.

So that combination of academic opportunity and travel allowed me to see places like Phillips Exeter Academy (NH), Choate (CT), Cheshire Academy (CT), The Cranbrook Schools (MI) and the Martha’s Vineyard High School (MA). So, however privileged I felt I had been growing up on Edgewater Drive was challenged by what I was able to see up close and personal – the pastoral college preparatory landscape that was nothing like my frame of reference. I already knew life was unfair but somehow I was blind to the advantages of the country’s truly elite. Had I had the benefit of this tour of college preps I might have been too intimidated to face college at all let along and MBA.

Back in Coral Gables and on campus at the University of Miami, however, I was at home and taking the classes in stride. Except for Accounting – which still eludes me for its orderliness and discipline, I remained in the part of the class that makes the top half possible. I told myself that exposure to business school thinking was a healthy dose of reality that would serve me well when and if I ever fully engaged in the world of commerce. Mind you, my brother took his Bachelor of Education (B. Ed) to work in Dad’s business. It makes me laugh a little even now. A B-E-D degree for my brother who had plenty of trouble getting out of bed. Greg would later forsake the family business for, of all things, Commercial Real Estate.

So by 1982 I managed to earn an MBA from the U. That credential was a factor that allowed me to land on mid-town Manhattan - Skyscraper National Park. The kid from Edgewater Drive was officially working for a top flight firm in the Advertising Capital of the World – New York City.

Some sidebars – Sir Speedy Printing, Jet Set Typesetting with George and Vivian, Hoboken. 

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