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  • Nido Qubein rises early because he has a lot to get done
    Nido Qubein rises early because he has a lot to get done

The editor talks with you

From immigrant to college president

Nido Qubein and I met years ago as fellow members of the National Speakers Association. That’s where I learned about his fantastic success story,
I am a poor weekly newspaper editor who was blessed to be born into a successful, middle class American family. 
In comparison, Nido came from Jordan to this country in his teens with little English and $50. Today he is a successful entrepreneur and president of High Point University in North Carolina. 
His life story compared with mine makes me feel inadequate. Yet if you talk with Nido, he makes you feel you are the most important person on earth.
That’s a secret of his success: Make everyone feel important. It’s good for their self esteem and they’ll love you for it.
Too many of us feel disrespected and unappreciated at home and work. We quietly do our jobs and rise to whatever challenges present themselves. But rarely is our can-do spirit appreciated or recognized.
Nido has more secrets to learn from.
 Nido is customer focused. That’s not unusual in the world of business where he serves as chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Co. But it may be rare in education.
When he agreed to step in as president of High Point University, his alma mater,  he noticed that students had created short cuts on campus between buildings as they hurried to their next classes. 
That’s like a business owner discovering which products his customers prefer and which they don’t bother to buy,
He had the ground crew pave those paths to make it easier for his customers – his students – to reach class on time.
Nido leads by example. Since 2005 when he became High Point’s president, the university has tripled its faculty and tripled undergraduate enrollment.
This growth came with costs. Nido went to other successful business owners and challenged them to match the $1 million he was prepared to donate himself. It is hard to turn down a man like that.
Nido and I are restless souls. We thrive on 6 or 7 hours sleep. I rise early, often at 5 am. I feel the sand in my hour glass is running out and God has given me a lot more to accomplish.
By the time I rise, Nido has already been up a couple of hours. His home is quite. Everyone else is asleep. He’s found that he can get more done from 3 to 7 am than he can in the rest of a busy day.
Early in the morning, there’s no one to interrupt you or demand your attention.
A final story: Nido constantly looks for opportunities.  He noted that some of his students had to work after class to cover their living costs. Many of them worked in the hospitality industry flipping burgers.
What if the university created a culinary arts school and a fine dining restaurant where students could practice their skills?
That became 1 of 4 new schools Nido has helped create at the university.
Not bad for a teenager who started with far less than most of us and turned it into a huge American success story. I hope Nido’s story inspires you as much as it has me.
Next: A fighter pilot’s story.

Chronicle Editor Emeritus Jerry Bellune's inspirational column appears weekly.

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