A message to students embarking on their international business journey, from Ray Brimble, Chairman Emeritus, The Center for Global Business, McCombs School of Business, and The University of Texas at Austin.
It is said about journeys that “the person who returns, is never the same person who left.”
And when I first started my journey, I, too, was no exception to this saying.
The first leg of what would become a life of many wonderful journeys, both mentally and physically, started here. Right where you are now — The University of Texas at Austin.
At first, just getting to Austin and getting into this university seemed to be the goal. However, I soon discovered that many more goals and journeys would be in my future. Here, in this place, the world opened up to me in a way that I couldn’t have envisioned, simply because I was unaware of that great big beautiful world out there.
I grew up in the middle of the middle. I was the son of middle-class parents living in a cookie-cutter suburban home in southwest Houston. It was the kind of neighborhood where all of the houses are basic, the yards all have little stick trees, a tiny backyard defined by a brown wooden fence, and a dog that lives back there because that’s his world, and he likes it.
Looking back now, it all felt somewhat normal, and I felt normal. I wanted to do normal things like the rest of my friends. There was no talk about traveling the world, doing business in foreign lands, and eating food with names you couldn’t pronounce. Only when I came to Austin and discovered that there was more, did my next journey start. Even though my journey had only just begun, I was already changed from the person I was when I left home.
What’s more, my journey didn’t end — I never stopped changing. That journey continues to this day.
I am full of gratitude for the opportunities that’ve started right here in Austin. I continue to do business around the world, have made wonderful friends all around the globe, continue to learn about new things (because the world has an unlimited array of new things to learn!), and have watched my world — our world — change and change again.
That’s where you come in.
We need new, improved, change makers — like you!
You have heard it a hundred times since you arrived here on campus: what starts here, changes the world. It sounds SO good, right? What does this slogan mean to you? Let’s break it down and see if we might find some clues.
The “what” is many things. But here, it is the journey itself — both figuratively and literally. After all, most international business involves a lot of journeys around the world. The “what” is also what you dare to imagine, envision, invent, invite, pursue, and define. What’s more, the “what” is also the “who” — it’s you!
The hardest part of starting is to start! Starting lays the foundation for so much more to come. Your studies here are part of that start. They are building blocks for your future. What you learn here, who you meet, and what tickles your fancy are the ropes that will help lasso your dreams. You’ve done the hard part; You’ve started.
Where exactly is “here?” Is it the collective university? Is it the lore of Longhorn tradition and history? Is it the literal place? Or is it the space — the very same we occupy both physically and mentally, while we associate ourselves with the 40 Acres?
I submit it’s more about the latter. “Here” is where you decide your avocation should be. I like to say, for example, that international business is not only my vocation but my avocation.
“Here” is your foundation; it’s your state of mind — or your proclivities — which will be foundational as you embark to see and change your world.
Changes the world:
To me, this is the most loaded word in the slogan. It’s a big ask to CHANGE the world, isn’t it?
First … THE world — who’s world? Which world? The world of the past, present, or future?
The world is a big, complicated place. And let’s be real, it’s unlikely (although certainly not impossible) that you, yourself, will change the entire world. Unless you are say, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Angela Merkel, or Albert Einstein.
And yeah, it would be great if you were literally those people. But even if you are not — could you still be a world changer?
You could start by being a good steward. A positive force. A knowledgeable practitioner. You could be a cutting-edge influencer, inventor, patron, pupil, listener, doer, connector, or healer.
And you could be any of those things all while remembering that you could also be all at once. You could be a proud Texan, a citizen of the world, an inhabitant of the planet, a force in your community, and a loving member of your family.
If you carry your aspiration to be any of these things (and more), you will no doubt become “the change you want to see in the world.” And perhaps what YOU start here, will indeed change the world.
Welcome to this journey, global Longhorns, and bon voyage!