Small Acts Bring Big Value

When thinking about making a difference, we tend to think in sweeping terms. However, making a difference is often accomplished through little things. In the midst of busy schedules, small acts of kindness, gratitude and generosity take on added value. One person who taught and perfected the power of small things was Mother Teresa, whose work focused on the multiplier effect from small acts of kindness.

​I would like to highlight three instances in recent weeks in ComArtSci that exemplify the power of small things.

​Over spring break, I attended a gathering in Los Angeles that was hosted by Craig Murray, a graduate of ComArtSci, who now owns mOcean, a successful creative agency and production company. Craig is amiable with our students and alumni and a die-hard Spartan fan. If you did not know better, you would never guess how well networked he is in the entertainment business.

​A long-time friend of the college, Craig has made financial contributions over the years. Perhaps his most significant contribution was in the early 1990s, when he hired Greg Harrison, one of our students, as an intern. Greg has now risen to the top and essentially runs mOcean. In the 1990s, Greg led the way for others, such as Dave Singh and Steve Van Wormer, who cut their teeth at mOcean before moving on to successful careers in L.A. Today we have a thriving network of Spartans in Los Angeles and Hollywood, many of them ComArtSci alumni who remain profoundly grateful to Craig for the start they received through the visionary and robust internship program he put in place.

​Later in the week, I met up with a group of our students, led by professors John Besley and Andy Corner, who were visiting advertising and public relations agencies in New York. We met at an alumni reception held at the New York office of Deutsch Inc., an ad agency whose accounts include VW, Taco Bell, Dr. Pepper and Sprint. Remember, the little Darth Vader ad for VW? That was Deutsch's creation.

​Overlooking the Manhattan skyline and a picture-frame view of the Freedom Tower, the event was held at Deutsch's office, thanks to Mike Sheldon, a 1982 graduate of our advertising program, who is now CEO of Deutsch. Mike gave an inspiring speech, encouraging our students to be fearless in the pursuit of their dreams. The most remarkable part was his affable nature and willingness to engage with our students. Much to their delight, he met with each of them offering tips and encouragement. Later, students told me that while they admired and respected his accomplishments, they were also genuinely touched by his willingness to engage with them on their terms. I have no doubt that this encounter will encourage and launch many new Spartan advertising careers in New York.

​We don't have to be in L.A. or New York to practice or experience the power of small things. In East Lansing, Kelly Feinberg, Teresia Hagelberger and Scott Gascon approached me with the idea of a potluck for staff appreciation day. Within a few days, they had organized a breakfast complete with scrambled eggs, fresh pancakes, yogurt bar and other goodies. This spur-of-the-moment idea turned out to be a big success and this is a winning tradition we should preserve to recognize our staff for their various contributions.​

​Speaking of small things, our staff epitomize the power of the cumulative effect of everyday actions. While the accomplishment of our faculty and students are visible to the public eye and promoted on our websites and newsletters, the contributions of our staff are less public and happen behind the scenes. However, the everyday steps of our staff empower the extraordinary hopes and dreams of our faculty and students. They are true heroes who practice small things with great care and precision.