Ernie Urquhart, built a career by making choices, not waiting to be chosen. And when he found his path hidden by unplanned and unexpected events, he found a way to continue to tell his personal career path story. Ernie’s a role model for the facing the truth and finding the personal meaning inside the story.
Ernie Urquhart sees life as a series of transitions. Some are expected and planned, like the transitions from childhood to adulthood. Some are expected but unplanned, including where you work, what you do, where you live, and who you find to be part of your personal and professional circles. Then there are the transitions Ernie calls “boulders”- those that drop on your life, unplanned and unexpected and often unwelcome, and cause you to face your life, your values and purpose in order to move forward.
He has held senior Vice President responsibilities for Human Resources at Catholic Healthcare West; Harcourt; and Johnson & Johnson. His current interests involve a new business about facilitating career transitions for executives who want to be intentional about their future changes and transitions, and realizing the dreams of college-bound African-American students through his Urquhart family foundation.
M: Welcome to the Livelihood Show, I’m Marcy Rosenbaum. Every week you’ll find something in our show to inspire you about your career path and help you make your life and livelihood flourish. Today’s guest, Ernie Urquhart built a career by making choices, not waiting to be chosen and when he found his path hidden by unplanned and unexpected events, he found a way to continue to tell his personal career path story. Ernie’s a role model for facing the truth and finding the personal meaning inside the story.
For all these reasons, we’re delighted to have you here to share these experiences with us today.
E: Glad to be here.
M: One of the reasons I think your story is so interesting, Ernie, is you create a very new meaning to the question “What’s next?” When we think of what’s next we almost always think of “What’s next up?” or “What’s next out?” What’s next up is, ‘’What’s my next promotion, what’s my next big challenge?”
E: Yes, what’s my next big title or what’s my next money, all of those things.
M: Exactly. Sometimes people hear what’s next and it’s “Well, my career is ending, so what’s next is nothing.” What’s next is golf, or what’s next is lunch. You’re recreating the concept of what’s next, you did it in your career as you were growing a career; you did it at Harcourt when there was an acquisition that you didn’t look for, you were ready to move, but was imposed upon you. You did it again when you were in your role in San Francisco as a survivor saying, “I’m ready for a change,” and it’s not a simple answer but it’s a more complex and nuanced answer.
E: I really latched on to this model and to this view of transitions during this time; again, going back about five or six years at that point, when I was thinking about what I was going through as transitions, as next and so forth. I mean it just became really clear to me on a go-forward that sure enough life is about a series of transitions. You are born, you transition into “childhood,” you transition into teens. I mean it’s not abrupt steps. But clearly when we talk about in its broadest context, career planning, we’re talking about transition. You’re on the go, you’re moving, you’re moving, you’re moving. In fact that’s a good thing because at the end of the day once you stop moving you die.
E: In this case, I found myself trying to at times explain it, and the most common word people would use will be, “Okay, given your age it must be retirement.” Okay, so fine, let’s call it retirement. But, for me, retirement though I decided to embrace in a more transitional philosophy that learned from – and I forget who to give it credit to. But retirement is the increased capacity to do the work that I want to do.
M: As opposed to the work that…
E: As opposed to the work that others want me to do, as opposed to work that’s defined in a job description, or position responsibilities, or something that enquires you go here or you go there, you speak this way, you look that way; budgets, whatever the case may be. What I’ve really embraced in this is I want to do this work, I want to work with people, I want to engage people at the level of possibilities and potential. For that matter, from an organization standpoint, I want to help organizations in that way. But I want to do it in a less of that term of a corporate cocoon, in a more open way, open for me and for that individual.
So, this transition was moving into a realm of doing and continuing to do my work but doing it in a different environment, doing it in a different context – and by the way, still focused achieving dynamic results.
M: You had the kind of corporate career that was the story of growing from assignment to assignment with different companies increased responsibilities, assignments and a job at a different part of the country and so forth. You’ve recently made another transition from the, if you will, safety and security of the corporate cocoon to going out on your own. Was there a defining moment or a triggering event that caused you to take this kind of leap of faith or risk, or unfolding of a long-held plan? What changed for you?
E: There were a couple of things that occurred in the prior five years to that, one was the defining moment in 2005; I had a couple of personal experiences that sharpened my view of the future. With that said, sharpened my view of the unpredictable and unknown future. The first of that was that in 2005 I turned fifty-five. Ironically with that I received two presents, a couple of presents that year, which I would gladly give back or re-gift. But I had a joyous celebration for turning fifty-five, I celebrated a very strong way in believing that this was a good [after word-of-mouth] [ph 00:08:22]. But it’s also during that year that I lost my youngest brother to a very unfortunate and very untimely death based on a healthcare experience that did not go well. So, that occurred.
The other thing that occurred is during that same time, I was diagnosed with cancer, a cancer that was in late stage but fortunately was early enough in late stage that it was treatable. But the treatment protocol was extremely difficult and pretty much took me out of commission for quite a bit. So I came out of that year on one hand a survivor of my individual and personal health experience, but not having survived the loss of my brother. I believe that the combination of that actuarial mountaintop, if you will, or at least peak, as well as those two put me in a mode of thinking more about “career ending” as opposed to necessarily career ascension.
For the prior thirty years it was about climbing, climbing, climbing and moving ahead. Now, it’s really thinking more along the line of not everything is over. But there is one more transition that I was clear about the work that I was doing and that have focused in on the past twenty-five years in this thing called human resources, this belief that I built very strongly in me, at the end day it was the people who made the difference. It was the people who touched others in the healthcare industry, it was people who packed the boxes in the inventory, in manufacturing it was people who pushed the buttons and did the wizardry if you will of technology.
So I believe that that was true, and therefore what I saw in my future was continuing to do that work of engaging and supporting and helping people to make the difference, but in an environment that was less structured from a corporate standpoint.
M: Let’s talk for a minute about this word “transitions.” It’s one of these words that seem really very simple like change or communication, but it’s really very rich. Do you have a model in mind when you talk about transition?
E: My model is more about progression – that may or may not be progress by the way.
M: So, it’s progression across the lifespan, if you will.
E: That’s right.
M: But it sounds like at different points across that lifespan there are other transitions that people encounter, sometimes on purpose, sometimes on expected but not planned; sometimes unexpected, unplanned, unwanted; sometimes popping out of a creative place or a place of ideas and [passage of] [ph 00:11:57], “Whoa, since when is this important to me?”
E: Right. The notion of the model I work from is the intentionality of your transitions. The fact is that for me once I have gone through childhood and learned from others – everything from how to walk and talk and read – and I’ve reached that cognitive ability to think, to organize, to learn and to grow, particularly into adulthood and into career, I call for being intentional about how you move forward. Your intentionality may be a very tight career plan or even non-career plan. You asked me early on, “When you were younger essentially what did you want to be when you grow up?” So, your intentionality could be, “Well, I want to be a doctor” or a lawyer or whatever the case may be.
However, with that said, as you grow, as you get older, as you’re moving along this path that you believe you have some plan or intentionality for, stuff happens. So, what I think about and what I encourage based on my experience is that your plan, your intentions have room or have a built in what I now call “surprise, surprise” or 9/11. In other words, does your intention include the possibility if not probability that as you go further down the road, as you get older, something and some things are going to happen that in fact you did not plan for and you couldn’t have planned for.
As an example, I can say I learn best to that degree, I offer best from my own experience. Getting cancer was nowhere in my game plan. I mean not only literally did I not plan for it, there was nothing in my family, there no indication that at age fifty-five I’d be doing anything other than continuing to do what I was doing and so forth. It hit me…
M: I can vouch for the fact that you ate well, exercised every day. I mean you really focused on staying healthy and fit.
E: Yes, it was all about doing all the right things so that in my sense as I’m progressing along my life path, knowing that somewhere out there it’s going to end, that I should do good. I should take care of myself, etcetera, etcetera. Bam, you have cancer. Bam, your brother is on life support and he probably won’t make it. It’s funny because that – another thing that was going on, separate but related, was your father as an elderly citizen is starting to slide in terms of health and so forth and so on. Now one could think that that would come, but typically I think most people don’t sit down and prioritize, “Well, when I get to be fifty or sixty my parents are going to get old so I have to factor that in.”
E: So what I’m suggesting in my model that I work with of thinking is this notion of I want to be intentional about as much as I can, what I want to do, how I want to do it, when I want to do it, and in doing that – not just the planning but actually in the execution – I want to be braced, if you will, with the possibility if not the probability that something will occur that I don’t plan for. There’s a beginning for sure, kind of middle when some of the actuarial thing that forty/forty-five is kind of middle age, and I there’s some end. But the way I think of the end is – that’s the whole point, you don’t know when the end is.
E: It could be as early as forty-eight for my brother or as late as eighty-four or eighty-five for what my parents did and so forth. But there’s this notion that you got marriage, life, death, illness, all sorts of things that may happen. Some of the work that I do today with others actually is as much about responding/rebounding through transition boulders, that either they could not plan for because – I mean, how does one know? Part of what they stop back to learn is what am I made of so that I am able to say, “All right, I’ve been knocked to the ground because I got fired…”
M: …or sold by a company, was sold.
E: That’s right. Some crazy diagnosis came, the economy went stupid. The [inaudible 00:17:55] is, that’s life. I mean that’s the reality of your born, you “live,” you die. In that living piece…
M: Things happen.
E: …stuff happen. So the question is, you can’t stop stuff from happening per se, [so did the unexpected] [ph 00:18:15], but the things that you can plan for or manage to do; but most importantly, what do you have to response, to resolve, to get up, to keep moving and making your progress to your next transition?
M: Where did you grow up?
E: I grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a matter of fact. I grew up in a classic intercity section of Philadelphia, a section called Tioga. There were a total of eight of us; I grew up in a preacher’s family, so my father was a minister and we were a very close and tight-knit family, went to public schools and pushed for education and the like.
M: Where were you in the birth order of the eight?
E: Ironically I am the third child, oldest boy.
M: When you were growing up, what did people tell you that you ought to be when you grow up?
E: A preacher of course. Firstborn son, you’re supposed to follow your fathers. Yes, it was comical to me even then, people were real clear that I had to be the one who would grow up to be the preacher.
M: I know you had another brother who took that mantle from you, what did you secretly dream of being?
E: It took a little while because my youngest brother who took the pressure off of me when he decided at a young age, but secretly I think like most kids at that time I secretly dream of being a doctor or a lawyer or something exotic like that that I had no clue what that meant.
M: I’m curious about the kinds of summer jobs you might have had growing up, some of the early ways you found to make some money or make a living.
E: During my childhood I did have odds and ends job I guess you call them. In fact my first one I distinctly remember because it was a funny situation; my dad was working, in addition to being a pastor of his church and all that, that wasn’t paying any money, so he worked in an automotive plant. There was this restaurant that he and his buddies went to across the street for lunch, and my first job my dad got for me which was to be a clean-up boy in this restaurant. So I had that job of going in there after-hours, I’m scrubbing the floors and helping to do dishes and that type of things, so that was the very first job. They paid me a couple of bucks a week I guess that I recall.
I also recall that one of my neighbors who, I don’t know, took an affinity to me and he had this famous saying of, “God, bless the child who has his own.” So I asked my father’s permission, and I was a waiter/busboy at catered events. This neighbor, the way he made his money on the weekends was serving tables at banquets and the likes, so he put me under his wing and would take me and show me how to carry a tray and all that good stuff. Actually it was those kinds of small odd end jobs that I had when I was younger just to get into this notion of working because against that I had the pressure from my dad of saying, “You’ve got to finish school and nothing can get in the way of that.” He was concerned of if I started making money that somehow I would be distracted.
M: What did you study?
E: Ironically by the time I got to Penn State I studied history. History was my major in college, but frankly I can tell a funny story about myself. I backed my way into that because first of all I was lucky enough – lucky meaning going to college was not something that many of me and my childhood friends necessarily aspire to, although somehow I got the bug and wanted to go. My parents agreed to support me even though they had no clue what that meant since neither of them had gone that far.
In fact I was so naïve and unprepared that in my freshman year I distinctly remember another funny story I tell of myself where a counselor said to me, “Well, it’s time for you to pick a major.” I said, “Major what?” That’s just how little I knew. I just know go to college, go to college, go to college. I got the grades and I went. So to make a long story pretty short, once I learned what it was I said, “Well, one topic that I really, really enjoy and I’m very good [inaudible 00:23:40].” So I know just enough to know that if you get a major that you can do very well, and so that’s what I did.
M: Very clever. I know that in the UK they have undergraduate majors like history, geography, art history because they have this notion that if you understand history, geography or art history you understand the context of everything that’s happening now. When I first heard about this, as a typical American I said, “Why wouldn’t you study business?” Then when I actually stopped to think about it, I realized they were right. There are some very powerful [inaudible 00:24:26].
E: Not to take to credit – see, I was smart enough to realize that I inherited that notion from the Brits. But mine was more mundane, I frankly didn’t know what I was doing other than I knew I need to go to college, get good grades and graduate, go off and do something. In fact it’s funny, I remember as I went through then the question became “so what are you going to do with this history.” I said I have no idea.
M: What process did you go through to begin to say, “What do I want to do for a living?”
E: I recall a process when it started, it actually started in my senior year when I realize that sure enough I would finish and then the question becomes what. The unfortunate reality – and I’m saying unfortunate because I was just not guided nor did I have any serious role models for doing something other than maybe what my dad did. Frankly I began to think simply in terms of what could I do that would be “in business” where I could make money and better myself by being better than my dad. Again, I reiterate, there was nothing wrong with my dad, he wasn’t bad or anything; as a matter of fact he did good, and I guess for his time maybe made good money.
But mine was the classic case of I saw how hard he worked and the dirty uniform, coming home and being laid off in strikes. I just got this crazy notion of I should do better. So my process was pretty simple at the beginning which was “get a good job, a good paying job where you on the one had you work hard but didn’t have to work as hard,” as I saw my dad my doing, and somehow rather keep moving.
M: What kind of work did you generally do in corporations?
E: I think the best word, broad word, was being in a [inaudible 00:26:48]. It was office space administrative, and another slash I guess would management. My very first role as a matter of fact was a basic frontline supervisor in a manufacturing facility. It was one that at that time recruiters came on campus and they were looking for people who were willing to come in and be trained, and your first step on the ladder would be to be in their training program for basic management then process from there. So, my very first job was as a production line supervisor at a facility of Johnson & Johnson in North Brunswick, New Jersey.
M: How did your career grow from supervision and manufacturing? What decisions did you make to either pursue opportunities to take advantage of opportunities that were presented?
E: First of all I was clear that I enjoyed this supervisor piece, wasn’t sure why other than having been trained and put on the floor as they called it that I enjoyed. I mean for instance my very first role, I was this production line supervisor, it meant that I had a crew that I worked with through three shifts. In the classic sense we would rotate every week. Then I realize that’s good, this is a good start. But I also wanted to not do the rotation, I wanted to grow. So I went for more training and eventually became a manager.
Frankly I would also freely admit that at that time there’s the issue of money, not so much because I “needed it” in the sense of “My God, I have mouths to feed” or whatever, but somehow rather believing that you should make more and grow. Therefore, my career path was one that took me through several companies because I got this notion early on that I as an individual was responsible for what happens to me, and that the company that I work for as good as they were – and I truly believe they were all good – the process of moving ahead was significantly beyond my control. Therefore, I had to make decisions to be responsible about where I move, when I move and so forth.
Therefore early on in my career I’d say every three or four years I was aware that I was looking for another opportunity. I was looking for another challenge. I was looking for more money. So I moved fairly quickly. With each of those moves, I might add, they also were classically roles of increased responsibility.
M: When you were weighing different alternatives, what kinds of responsibilities that these different jobs offered seemed to be most attractive to you?
E: Two things were most attractive. One was at that time of course the larger your responsibility the better, and the larger meant how many people. It meant what size of budget if it was bigger than before. It also meant I early on found myself hooked on this notion of it didn’t matter what the product or the service of the company was, that somehow rather it mattered in ways that were not as clear as they are today, that there were companies that I could work for and be proud of, tell my family and others this is where I work; and then there were others that I didn’t feel somehow meshed with what I now know were my values. I wasn’t sophisticated back then to know that that’s what it was about.
So Johnson & Johnson, a really, really good company at that time – [harlow co] [ph 00:31:22] as it was called was also in healthcare – was really important, a digital equipment corporation. So as I went through my career I realized that as I talked to search firms or whomever, it mattered to know what does this company do, what do they represent, what services do they provide, what products do they provide, and can I personally feel good and proud of being a part of that company and more specifically the management [thing] [ph 00:32:00].
M: So very interesting. So it wasn’t the job title you were going after.
M: It was the quality of the company and the work that the company was doing…
E: That I was part of.
M: …that you will become part of.
E: Right. For me early on I embraced this notion of I represent the company so I am this company. Therefore if I hear anybody talk about it in any sort of way or if I talk about it, it became – I guess the word would be personal. But personal in the sense of “yes, this is where I work and this is what we do, this is how we make our difference in whatever part of the consumer society that we do.” When I was contacted by the search firm, it was that I was not interested in working for organizations that made weapons. I was not interested in organizations that made tobacco. At that point in time, it was more about companies not to be associated with. As I grew, I learned about “so in the other end what are the kinds of companies that you do want to be associated with.”
That for me carried forth throughout my entire career. As opportunities came up whereas I made choices that I – I mean it was my value screen, my personal screen that an organization had to go through, in addition at looking at financials and everything else that I would say yes. I want to look at some opportunities and [inaudible 00:33:44].
M: Is there something that you hope to accomplish now that you could not or don’t believe you could have accomplished on the inside?
E: I think I can accomplish now a level of authenticity, a level of care, a level of competency that I could not accomplish inside, mostly because – I don’t want to sound too negative on the inside piece, but oftentimes I believe that as a part of that corporate community or operating within that box of something called “your job description” you have limits of how far you can go. I’m reminded that in the safety and security if you will of the corporate world there are things you don’t say, there are things you don’t do, and you typically are encouraged to watch out for feelings; i.e. don’t get touchy-feely or all the don’ts about stay objective and so forth.
Whereas what I’m able to do now in the work that I continue to do is encourage to push and to actually care for people as they go forward in what they can or are capable of doing. Now this becomes important because the work that I do, if I am working with someone, tends to be inclusive of their non-career work. In other words, I want to spend time on the whole person, just enough – I’m not a psychologist, I’m not an analyst – to recognize that we are a whole, and things such as your career and your job and your profession is a part of something else. So oftentimes I find myself in some of my earlier discussions with people that I work with saying, “Fundamentally, tell me about yourself. Who are you?”
What I’m looking for is some understanding in terms of how we work together beyond “I am senior vice president” or “I am chief executive officer.” Well, you are by some title that someone conferred on you, my question is, “But who are you really?” Part of the transition for me is how do you continue to move forward as a whole as opposed to necessarily compartmentalizing: “I’m moving forward in my marriage but I’m not moving forward in my parenting,” “I’m moving forward in my job but I’m not moving forward in my marriage.” The disconnect – if there is any because I’m not saying everybody has it – if there is any, you create a level of stress that inhibits [the effect] [ph 00:37:18] of transitions.
M: One of the phrases I first heard from you is the phrase, “It is what it is.”
M: I must admit, the first time I heard it my response was, “Well, of course it is what it is, but here’s what we have to do.” It took me some time to understand that there are things that you can do and there are some things that you just have to observe. You don’t have to necessarily agree with them – and I like the way you call them boulders. When I hear people say, “We don’t have any problems, all we have are opportunities,” I want to say, “I don’t think you’re paying attention to some of the things that some of us are dealing with.” So I think a boulder is a nice concept.
But it sounds like part of the intentionality when you find yourself facing a boulder, the question is not necessarily about the boulder but the question is about you looking at the boulder.
E: There you go. For me, it represents [along that same line] [ph 00:38:43] – I mean the boulder is there, and there you are looking at it. It is a boulder, it is there. Now, what are you going to do, as opposed to “My God, that boulder how did it get there? When is it going to move? How is it going to move?” For me, as I speak to it for both myself and for others, it’s a way of trying to avoid either being paralyzed or totally indecisive about “you still have to move forward” – or to the side or something, but you got to do something. Just standing there and making the observation, questioning or challenging, “What, is it a boulder? Well, maybe it’s a rock. It was an opportunity. No, it’s a challenge…”
M: No, it’s a boulder.
E: It’s a boulder.
M: It is what it is, right?
E: It is what it is. By the way, whatever you choose to call it that’s what it is. Now, what are you going to do?
M: Sometimes just because you call it a boulder, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bigger than you.
M: The concept of mindfulness and recognizing that we tell ourselves stories about situations, and sometimes we can tell ourselves different stories about that situation, give us more room to maneuver than we might have originally thought possible
E: Right. I can tap into that in terms of my experience. It’s funny, as you say it I’m reminded that when I was I growing up as a child in my family the word lie was considered a heathen, nasty word. You didn’t say you’re telling a lie or I’m telling a lie. We actually use the term “you’re telling a story.” So, as you just said, it’s like you make up stories that may or may not be true. Too often it’s not so much they’re true or not but some level of rationalization, some way of trying to talk your way around it as opposed to really confronting it.
In some of my work now, I was just talking with someone a couple of weeks ago, I met with them for a while, so we had had this conversation. She was in a situation where several things had happened and she was on it for a [inaudible 00:41:35], she had been knocked down a couple of times. We got into – and this is a little bit rambling – about the [inaudible 00:41:41] and a few things I said before, “How do you feel?” “Well, you know, I’m going to move…” “I’m sorry, how do you feel?” My point was simply that at that moment, as we later discovered or she discovered or acknowledged, she was hurt. You’ve been fired, so let’s acknowledge that that hurts. Your husband left, that hurts.
I’m of the belief that this mindfulness of not just who you are but what you feel and it is what it is, is that I believe that you can more successfully go through the transitions if you have this level of mindfulness and truthfulness to say, “It is what it is, and I’m going to deal with that.” So in her case, “I am hurting. I’m going to have trouble doing all this other stuff that I should ought to want to do unless I deal with the fact that I’m in a space of mind right now that I am so hurt. That until I get that resolved in some way or ameliorated, I’m just not going to be very good. Even in the interview, as I was sitting there having not dealt with my hurt and trying to answer a question about are you happy today.”
M: Tell us about your accomplishments.
E: Yes, exactly.
M: In your own experience or philosophically, are there effective strategies that you’ve discovered or identified for successful transitions?
E: Well, there are a couple that I like to speak to, one is fundamentally really knowing or aspiring to know who you are, what your beliefs are, what you stand for as an individual existing on this earth. That may sound soft and fuzzy and all of that, but to me there’s something in there about knowing for yourself or having the assurance of “this is who I am, this is what matters”; and when you’ve cut through all of the other stuff, be it titles or relationships, this is what I am and what I stand for. So I think that that’s a key strategy, the self-awareness is really what it is.
The second I would say, an effective strategy, is responsibility. At the end of the day, it really is you. It really is your life. It really is your career. You are the one piece of your life that you have the most control of. God bless whoever you work for, your spouse and everything else, but it’s about you and your relationship in that context that’s important.
Then the third strategy beyond the self-awareness, this grounding of self-awareness and intentionality, is this notion of intentionality about – allow me to use the term – how you do yourself. You can’t discount how others do, you can’t discount the policies and procedures and the culture and all of that organization. So, I’m not saying to the “exclusion of,” but I am saying in the context of these other factors, this importance of how you do you and your decision and your responsibilities.
You were asking me earlier about my defining moments and so forth and so on, which I appreciate, one of the favorite I guess – it is flattering, it’s intended to be flattering – people ask is, “What do you do?” I say, “Well, by most definitions I’m called retired,” although legally I’m not because you can’t, “But this is what I do.” Then I find myself going a little bit further to say something that I continue to do my work, I just do it in a different environment. I just do it in a different setting, and it focused on how to effectively go through these transitions.
M: All right, so Ernie I know that you’re in town now for a wedding and you will be walking your niece down the aisle, representing both your brother as well as you and the rest of your family. If I were to ask you just very simply what’s next, what would you say?
E: Fulfillment. What’s next is continuing to live and “work” a fulfilled life. For me, that’s about making a difference – pardon the cliché again – making a difference for myself and for others as much and as effectively as I possibly can. In an organized sense that means the work that I do through how I’m consulting is really working with individuals in terms of their own fulfillment, it continues to be working with organization – I know that you’re aware that my wife and I have a foundation.
M: We’re going to have a link to your consultancy on our website, but I’d also like to have a link to your foundation on the website. Can you take a moment to talk about your foundation?
E: Urquhart Memorial Foundation is one that was my wife and I created – coincidence to our being married back in 2002 – the foundation specifically has a twofold mission if you will. One and its largest piece is financial support – and other support but mostly financial – for African-American kids in the City of Philadelphia, my hometown, who are going to Pennsylvania colleges. Annually, we award scholarships to these kids who meet enough of the qualifications, including a letter that we receive from the university that they’re going to attend. We feel very good and very blessed – as a matter of fact, it was a couple of weeks I was in Philadelphia and we gave scholarships out to seventy kids.
E: It’s a very powerful feeling for me and for us as we make our difference in this way of give back. The other smaller piece of our focus is on research for diabetes and cancer. So individuals and organizations we’re able to give some small grants to people are working in those two key areas, which have a big impact. Cancer, you can automatically connect to my experiences with that in wanting to do to help in some way, and diabetes which is a scourge of my family as well as the black community that I’m a part of. So we set up this foundation, it’s now a part of my life in the sense of I spend more time working with it as part of the work that I do.
M: Wonderful. Ernie, as always, it is a pleasure to talking to you.
M: I find myself coming away from conversations with you energized.
E: I’ve enjoyed it. One of the things that I enjoy initially from my days of working with you is that you have a way of actually helping me to get clarity, and more importantly to try to communicate clarity and communicate it in a way that hopefully makes a difference both for you and whatever purpose that may serve as well as for others. So I always enjoy talking with you. I find myself getting excited and more animated even when we get into various conversations. So I look forward to doing some more.
M: All right, with that, congratulations to your family and keep up the good work.
E: All right, talk to you later.
M: Okay, Ernie, thank you so much.
E: You’re welcome. Bye-bye.
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