High School Students


Jon understands academic failure. After a relatively unremarkable high school career (punctuated with minor academic success, frequent academic ambivalence, and a mischievous spirit), Jon felt pressured by parents and friends to enroll in college. After three semesters, his failure to attend classes and do homework led to academic dismissal.

After nearly two years of wasted time, an ultimatum, the wisdom of a high school guidance counselor, and a second chance brought Jon back to college. Applying the moral lessons he had taken for granted in high school, he pursued a degree in education-determined to help future students to avoid the pitfalls that he experienced during his own high school career.

Now, as a university instructor and former academic adviser for incoming freshman, Jon continues to engage with high school students as they prepare to make the transition to the college experience. Weaving stories of his own high school and early college experiences with those of some of the hundreds of students he has mentored during his 25 years in the classroom, your high school students will laugh, cry, and ultimately be left to ponder the possibilities for their own future as their high school careers unfold.


Slow Down and Listen: Who Do You Hear? (60-90 minutes)
(This session can be conducted as a breakout session or expanded to a keynote.)
We live in a noisy world. Everyone is clamoring for our attention. According to the EPA, the average American Household owns an average of 23 electronic devices. Whether it’s a cell phone, iPad, laptop, iPod, big screen TV, or even just the urgency in our mind, society wants our attention…and they want it now. In this session, Jon takes a look at how internal and external demands that eat away at our time can be overcome by examining the people of influence in our lives and discerning who truly has our best interests at heart.

The Three P’s for College Success: How to Succeed from Day One (60-90 minutes)
(This session can be conducted as a breakout session or expanded to a keynote. It is primarily geared toward college bound juniors and seniors but would well serve students of all ages.)

The transition from high school to college frequently catches students unprepared. By the time they manage to make necessary adjustments to the academic rigors of college life, it might be too late to salvage their grades. In this session, Jon shares the lessons he learned from his own academic failure as a college freshman and presents three simple principles for success from day one of your college career.

Peer Pressure: Trying to fit into a Square Hole when You’re a Round Peg (60-75 minutes)
(This session can be conducted as a breakout session or expanded to a keynote)

The pressure to fit in among our peers often leads us to make decisions that could have lifelong consequences. In this session, Jon shares his own experience with peer pressure in high school and college and provides encouragement and practical suggestions for how to stand tall in the face of this pressure. Students will also learn that peer pressure does not end when they become adults, and the ability to withstand peer pressure is necessary for lifetime success.

Failure: Your First Key to Success (60-90 minutes)
(This session can be conducted as a breakout session or expanded to a keynote.)

Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, and hundreds of other leaders have reached the pinnacle of success after experiencing the depths of extreme failure, yet the mantra of society is that failure is not acceptable. In this session, Jon examines the failures and subsequent successes of great leaders as motivation and inspiration for students to push through failure to achieve the success that they desire.