John Baumann’s first book, Twelve Steps to Success, is set to be released the first part of 2011. Here is a preview in interview format:
Today we’re talking to John Baumann. John graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Massachusetts Isenburg School of Management and earned his Juris Doctorate degree from Cornell Law School in 1986. Attorney Baumann, in his 25-year law career, has passed the bar and practiced law in Texas, Louisiana and New Jersey before becoming General Counsel of a NASDAQ listed corporation headquartered in Kentucky. He teaches in the College of Business at the University of Louisville and is a professional inspirational speaker focused upon The Power of a Positive Perspective and Twelve Steps to Success. As The Inspiring Esquire, John has produced two DVDs (Learn Success Today and Learn Negotiation Today) and one CD (Reclaiming Posi-spective).
John is also workshop facilitator specializing in appreciation and respect training for existing and prospective supervisors. In addition, he is a consultant specializing in proactive workplace prevention including harassment elimination, union avoidance and injury reduction. Attorney Baumann also practices family law specializing in domestic violence prevention and is Of Counsel at the law firm of Ferreri & Fogle. John has been on CNN Headline News as a legal expert, has hosted an internet talk show on success and is the Chair of the Kentucky chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
John Baumann, Welcome to Roadmap to Success.
John Baumann (Baumann)
Thank you, I’m very pleased to be here, I’m honored to be included in this publication.
So you have had a great deal of success from a 25-year practice as an attorney to being selected as the most inspiring professor by the student athlete of the year to internet talk show host on success with over 50,000 monthly listeners to an appearance on CNN headline news as a legal expert, so could you tell me and our readers, we would like to know which professional achievements are you the most proud?
This is an interesting question and the answer will likely surprise you. I go back to high school, specifically tenth grade. I lived in a middle class household with little opportunity financially for college. I had mediocre grades and not a lot of extracurricular activities on my resume. I woke up one day and decided that I wanted to go to an Ivy League law school.
Against what seemed like insurmountable odds, I started a process to provide myself the things that I determined were necessary in order to go to an Ivy League law school First, I needed money to pay tuition and living expenses, Second, I needed excellent grades. Third, I needed to learn the material in the classes I was taking. Finally, I needed extracurricular activities to put on my applications.
At the time, I had no money and very little access to funds. My grades, as I said, were average at best. Although I did well on the math portion of the SATs, my English score was a dismal 510. My only extracurricular activity was being a deep reserve on the junior varsity soccer team.
How did I get there? How did I, eight years later, show up at Cornell Law School. I often wonder myself. I’ve been thinking about, and studying, success since that time and there were basically four, of my Twelve Steps to Success principles, that came into play at that time.
The first one was “End-vision.” I didn’t call it that at the time, but it was to actually see yourself in that destination. Feel what it is to be, in this case, a student at an Ivy League law school. Experience it with all your senses. The second part of End-visioning is to identify the specific steps necessary to achieve this End-Vision. For me, s I said, these were (a) improve my grades, (b) develop items for my school applications and (c) find the money to pay for college and law school.
The second Twelve Steps to Success that I want to mention is “effort.” I made a commitment to myself to go to every class, do homework for every class while the class was fresh in my mind, and study as hard as I possibly could. In high school, I became the student body president, I was lead in the senior class play, and I was on the varsity tennis team, while, at the same time, I worked in restaurants close to full time. One unique adventure that I experienced in the “effort” category was in my sophomore year in college. I went down to Houston, Texas, and sold books door–to-door. This involved a tremendous effort because we’d start at 7:30 in the morning and finish at 9:30 at night, six days a week, with sales meetings on Sundays. So a lot of the people were burned out and gave up. As physically, mentally and emotionally draining as it was, I made the commitment to myself to stick it out. I just decided that I was going to put in more effort than anyone else. I was determined to achieve. Not only did this summer job bring financial rewards, but it also bolstered my self-confidence, self-image and self-esteem.
In addition to having an “End-Vision” and putting out my best effort, a third of the Twelve Steps for Success is “Intensity,” which I also call, “Focused Passion.” This puts an emphasis on the competitive nature of school, activities, etc. How to get the “A.” I tried to be as aware as possible to see how I could get the “A” in each class in order to get the best grades possible to get into an Ivy League law school. In essence, see beyond what was apparent. I not only treated school like a job, but a competition. I treated the SAT like a contest. I studied as hard as I possibly could and that intensity eventually paid off.
Having a Positive Attitude is the fourth of the Twelve Steps for Success principle that I wanted to mention. What I call, “positive perspective,” as you mentioned in the introduction. That is, keeping a positive perspective, and setting your goals high. Someone once said to me, “If you don’t have any expectations, you can’t be disappointed.” Well, that’s kind of a pessimistic way to look at things, it may be true, but then you won’t be reaching for the stars, and if you reach for the stars and come just short, you’re still in the heavens.
So what I anticipated was doing the best I could possibly do with the natural ability and talent and intelligence that I had and shoot for the stars, go for the Ivy League law school. To be described as someone who “made the most out of their talent, ability or intelligence,” is one of the greatest compliments that one could bestow on another.
I applied to Harvard and Cornell. I was rejected at Harvard and was waitlisted at Cornell. I was admitted to Boston College law school, a fine institution that I would have been content with. On the Friday before law school started, I received a call from Cornell Law School. At first, I thought it was one of my college friends playing a prank on me. When I was realized that the call was, in fact, from Cornell, I asked what their inquiry was, and they said that they had one spot left in the class of 1986 and would I like to consider it. I said, “Well, where would I live” and they said we have a dorm, but the dorm is full so you’d have to find your own place to live. I didn’t have a car at the time, so I said can I call my father to see if he could drive me up there and they said, “Well, this offer is only open during this phone call; we have to go to the next person on the list.” I said basically, “I’ll take it, it’s my dream, it’s what I have worked toward for years.”
Similarly, I think of the movie, Rudy. Similar to Rudy, who took average sports ability and average intelligence and got on, in the heyday of Notre Dame, the best football team in the land, even for one down or one play, I felt like I had used absolutely the most of my ability and achieved something important. I never felt that I wouldn’t be able to excel at Cornell, I just felt as though the barriers might have been there to getting me in. Once I was in, I felt very comfortable, I was never overwhelmed.
I was in awe every day, the experience was tremendous, one that I’ll never forget: the ivy covered buildings, the tradition, the history. The key was to get in and, somehow, through intensity, diligence, effort, and some luck, I was able to financially pay for it through the work I had done over the years and academically get in to Cornell. That, to me, was my proudest professional accomplishment, getting admitted into an Ivy League law school.