FYE 32 | Business Fundamentals


Success in many different aspects of life requires time, effort, and lots of patience. Coming to America with only $50 in his pocket, Dr. Nido Qubein, now known as an educator, President of High Point University, and a business leader, shares his amazing success story and the fundamentals of business that got him to where he is today. He talks with Michelle Seiler Tucker on the importance of following these fundamentals in order to create the structure of life that goes hand-in-hand with his end goal of success, especially when it comes to business. Get inspired and start your journey to success when you learn the fundamentals of business that led Dr. Nido to his incredible achievement. 

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Business Fundamentals For Success With Dr. Nido Qubein 

Im so excited to introduce a very special friend of mine. Our Exit Rich guest is an accomplished University President and a nationally recognized authorspeaker and leaderDr. Nido QubeinHe came to the United States with $50 in his pockets and few words of English in his vocabulary yet, he went on to become one of Americas most soughtafter speakers and consultants. As a University President, the story of his tenure at High Point University is known to manyIn less than a decade, he led the institution to phenomenal growth with over 5,000 students and significant academic advancement, tripling its size and moving it to the number one spot amongst the Best Colleges in the South. 

He is a member of the International Speakers Hall of Fame and has served as a President of the National Speakers Association. As a business leader, he is the Chairman of Great Harvest Bread Company with 220 stores in 43 states. He serves on the boards of several national organizations including Trust, a Fortune 500 company with $430 billion in assets, the La-Z-Boy Corporation and nThrive, which is a leading healthcare company. 

President Qubein is the author of a dozen books and scores of leadership audio and visual recordings translated in many languages. The Biography Channel televised his Emmy-nominated life story titled, A Life of Success and Significance. His foundation has invested millions in scholarships for deserving young people and his family has been among the largest benefactors to High Point University and other organizations. Welcome to the show, Dr. Nido Qubein, my very good friend. Thank you so much for joining me. 

Michelle, it’s my pleasure to being with you. I have known you for a long time. Every time I see you have done new things, you have helped more people, you have been to more placesyou are a testimony to this country and business in general and I know you are helping a lot of people with your writingsspeeches and coachingI salute you and appreciate you. 

Thank you so much and likewiseI miss seeing you. I miss us speaking together on stage and seeing each other at all these events. I remember when I first started speaking, my husband used to say, Michelle, you need to speak like Dr. Qubein. You need to watch him, listen to him, emulate what he does. I remember hearing your story about how you came to this country speaking no English at all, basically teaching yourself English on index cards. If I remember correctly, you came when you were in high school. Finishing high school, going into college without speaking any English, teaching yourself the English language on one index card at a time and becoming one of the world’s best speakers of all time. You have won so many different awards and accolades. How did you do that? 

Ifone has a clear visiona solid strategy and willing to employ practical systemsnot just have an idea but have a plan and execute on it and not give up, if one acknowledges that there are no such thing as unrealistic dreams, only unrealistic timelinesthat the circumstances we find ourselves in do not define where we end upyou only determined where we start. The art of the possible takes overIt permeates our beingour brain but our heart and soul as well. All of a sudden, adversity turns into abundance. Fear turns into focus. Challenges turn into opportunities. This is simply what Im talking about yet, so many of us human beings overlookdeny or ignore that. 

Life is not that difficult. First of all, we all have a gift that we paid nothing for. Itcalled oxygen.  We should thank God every day that we have oxygen that gives us the breath of lifeWe all have friends and family. We all live in a wonderful country. We have no excuse for not doing our best. I get up every single morning and I say, I am a believer. Your beliefs lead to your behaviors, lead to results. Im a believer that there is a way for every program, plan and task. Whether itHigh Point University, whether when I helped start a bank or whether when I owned companies, I have always followed the fundamentals. 

I dont care what sector, business or market piece we are talking about. The reality of it isthere is this common thread thats called fundamentals. Its like buying a company. You look for the fundamentals. Is this good? Is that good? Is the other thing good? Where are the risks? How can I mitigate them? How can I move forward? I think I have an understanding of the fundamentals of businesssuccess and more importantly, sustainability. Whatever it is you want to do to create longevity of the plan and the successI dont deviate from thatMichelleIm always highly focused. Focus is more important than intelligenceas I say. The question is, what are we focused on? 

This is why we need coaches like you. Thats why we need to read books like yours. This is why we have to enlighten our minds because garbage in, garbage stays. Eventually, it becomes garbage dumps if we say bad things to ourselves. Now, wisdom inwisdom stays. As we grow older, we should become wiser. As we become wiser, we should be able to be more first. Being comes ahead of doing. Do more, give more, serve more. 

I love the words of William Barclay, the Scottish theologian, who once said, “Always give without remembering. Always receive without forgetting.” As long as we giveyou have been giving all your life. As long as you give of yourself, your intellect, resources, friendship, guidance, coaching and you dont remember, you plant a good seed in the hearts of others. I cant explain it but it comes back at you in bountiful ways. 

FYE 32 | Business Fundamentals

Business Fundamentals: Life is about creating appreciated value, not merely value.


Lettalk a little bit about the fundamentals of business and what makes a successful business.  You have your fundamentalsI have the 6 Ps that I talk about in my bookExit Rich. 

Number oneone has a very clear vision. If you dont have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, you will not speak with clarity. You will not think clearly and you will make terrible mistakes. What is it I want to do? Who is it I want to do it? Why should they find value in it? Remember this, value alone is not enough. I will give you an example. Take PepsiCola, iis a big company and provides a lot of value. For meit has no value. Why? It’s because I dont like Pepsi. If I were to drink a soda once in a great while, I will drink a Diet Coke. If Pepsi were putting resources trying to appeal to me, persuade me, advertise for me, they are wasting their resources because while the company has a lot of value and provides value, its not appreciated value. In other words, dont need it. I cant use it. It does not fulfill my needs. It does not help me get my goals. It does not help me get my aspirations or overcome my fear. Therefore, its not appreciated value. 

Life is about creating appreciated value, not merely value. Every human being has some degree of value. Every product has some big real value. To create appreciated value is to get people to sit up and notice. Think of it this way. A doctor may have gone to fifteen different medical schools. You dont care. If you were sick, God forbid and you go see a doctor and the doctor says, MichelleI know exactly what the issue is and I know what to do for it so your pain can go away.” That, my friend, is appreciated value. To me, you must have clarity for what you do. 

Secondfundamental is that we have to learn how to manage risks. Life is not about risk avoidance. Life is about risk management. If you take the risk out of life, you take opportunity out of life. The question becomes, “How do you manage your risk? I have a simple formulaYou may have heard me share it. The formula simply goes something like this. Before I invest any money, I would run it through the same mechanism. I ask three questions and then one more and I make my decision. 

The questions are these. What is the best thing that can happen as a result of taking this action? Im thinking about starting a dentistry school. The risk factor, the front end is $60 million. Igoing to do a pro forma. Igoing to look at the numbers. Im going to study the people who are going to help me get it done and all of that. In the end, what Im going to say is, “What is the best thing that can happen as a result of starting school? The next question is, “What is the most likely thing to happen as a result of taking this action? The last question is, “What is the worst thing that can happen? Herehow I make my decision. This is about risk managementI say, “If the most likely things to happen will get me closer to my goals and if Im willing to deal with the worst thing that can happen, I go for it. If the most likely thing to happen does not get me closer to my goal, why am I even bothering with it? If Im not willing to deal with the worst thing that can happen, that means Im not prepared. I dont have a backup plan. I better run and run as fast as I can.” I cannot tell youMichelle, how many deals I have done in my life and how carefully thoughtful I have been following this simple formula. 

Life is about having a clear vision of what you want to do in life, whether its business or whatever. Itlearning about risk management. Life is also about understanding the 5 or 6 capitals. When we talk about capital, we are talking about financial capitalIn other words, you have to have money to invest in something and money to buy something. You go to the bank to borrow capitalto start a businessNumber one is financial capital but not particularly in this order. Number two is educational capital. You have to be educated. School is never out for the pro. Someone has to read Exit Rich if they want to be educated continually about how to succeed in business and life. The third is reputational capital. Michelle, nothing matters if your reputation on merit is terrible. 

We are human beings living on Earth with other human beingsIm not suggesting we have to be paranoid about what people think of us. I cant please all the people all the time and I dontryIm not going to do anything to get my reputation damaged. I will not do ill upon any human being. I dont want to take a penny I have not earned. I dont want to take something from you that I dont give yourself in return for equal or greater valueThats how we build reputation. We help other people. Service is the rent we pay for occupying space on this Earth. 

Another one is physical capital. You have always been very focused on health. I know that being healthy because health gives us energyWithout energy, we can’t do anything. I sleep about five hours a night and I work. I love my work. I work a lot of hours. Here on the East Coast, its about 2:30 in the afternoon. I still have another three hours or so before I call it a day and I have a lot of energy. Im enjoying talking with you. You give me energy. Iteasier to talk with you and give back energy. 

You are all about energy management, not time management. You schedule everything in five-minute units. 

There are 168 hours in a week but your energy does not equal. You have to sleepeatrest and walk. We have a lot less than that. All these people teach you there are 168 hours, look what you can do. Not really, you only have a portion of that with high energy. Your energy drops at certain times of the day. You want to take the time that gives you the greatest energy to do the most important things. Thatall physical stuff. 

Another one is spiritualPeople who believe that they are it. They have all the answers. They can solve every problemI am God and God is me. These people are foolsGod forbid until they have some illness or lose somebody they love and find that they are devoid of true lovecompassion or empathy. You have to have spiritual strength in your life. Finally, as you said, in relational capital, ware as good as the people in our circle of influence. If your circle of influence is not filled with wonderful people who can feed ushelp usbe with us and feed us intellectuallyand in other ways then we dont have a circle of influence. We have a circle of concern. We dont want circles of concern. I dont want to be worried all the time. Relationships are very important. 

I tell our students at High Point University that your income will equal the average income of the five people you spend the most time with. If someone says, I want to be a millionaire but they are hanging around people making $40,000 a year, this is not going to fly. Theres nothing wrong with people making $40,000 a year. They are some of the greatest people in the world. Think of a teacher who knows she or hes going to be overworked and underpaid but they want to teach. Therenothing wrong with that at all. All Im saying isif your goal is to be a millionaire, you better think like a millionaire. How do you think like a millionaire? You hang around some. You read their books. You read the Exit Rich. You figure it out and you feed your soul. Thatwhat I mean by relational capital to be able to build bridges of understanding with other people. 

We always say your network equals your net worth. Talk to us about High Point University because you came in and turned High Point University. You went to school at High Point University. 

FYE 32 | Business Fundamentals

Business Fundamentals: What comes our way doesn’t have to stick with us forever. If it’s something we don’t like, we can find ways to improve it, enhance it, and decrease it.


Yes, I did. Undergrad,I went to High Point University. I was going to be the Chairman of the Board of High Point University back in ’04 or ’05. The president, who was here for a long time, retired. The school was in really bad shapedropping enrollment down to about 1,400. It was landlocked91 acres. You couldnt grow so theres no hope. It had no revenues but $28 million in revenues. Net assets were 56 million in total and the reputation was not great. US News & World Report had us as number seventeenThat’pretty bad on that rating. The grade was 63 out of 100They talked me into becoming President instead of becoming Chairman. 

When I came here several years ago, I was at the Zenith of my success. I had 1,000 people a year who want me to speak at pretty high fees. People were buying my booksCDsDVDs and coaching in large numbers. I was then as I am serving on four Fortune 500 companies, large corporate boardsI owned 2 or 3 companies. I had 30 to 40 sources of revenueI was floating on cloud nine and beyond. Sometimes we are inspired to throw the box outside the window, not to think outside the boxIf you think outside the box, you are still using the box as your standard of comparison. Throw it outside the window and just say, “The heck with it.” Doneven open the windowsThrow it through the glass. In other words, lose yourself in the transformative spirit. Transformation is about achieving our fullest potential. 

I dont want to be creative. Creativity is by doing something different. Innovation is about doing something better. I want to be innovative. To be innovative, you must be transformed. I prayed about itthought about it and realized that I have done pretty well in life and I can afford to do something exceptionally differentI came to become President and the world opened up its double doors for me on a red carpet and said, “Come hither, my boy. There’s going to be a great future here.” What have we done here? We went from 1,400 students to 5,600, from 91 acres to 500. 

How did you go from 91 to 500 when you were landlocked? 

We bought 1,200 houses in the residential area and we made everybody richer. We reclaimed the land and put our buildings on it. We only had about eighteen buildings. We built 112 buildings. Im talking about $50 million to $175 million. 

What timeframe? 

Only in the last 13 to 14 years. Its unbelievable. We did in a dozen years what takes universities 150 yearsWe moved. Im a business guy. Im an entrepreneur. I go, “Letcome up with a plan. Lets assess our risks. Lets mitigate those risks. Lets get the right people with us on the team and lets go onward and forward with gusto.” Thatwhat we did. Our net assets, remember we were $56 millionNow at $1.2 billion and we are number 1 for 9 years in a row among Best Colleges in the South according to US News & World Report. 

I can go on and on about High Point UniversityThe category is called Best Colleges in the South. Theres another one called Best Universities in the South as well as national. In that category, we are number one. We are in the top 386 collegesaccording to the Princeton Review. Remember that more than 5,000 colleges in America. We are riding high and we have attracted people from all over the world. We have 15,000 applications a year. We have Graduate programs and Doctoral programsWe have Doctor of Pharmacy, Doctor of Dentistry, Doctor of Ophthalmology and Doctor of Physical Therapy. You get the idea. 

Fifty thousand applicants a year. How many students do you take? 

The freshman class would take 1,400. 

What is your selection process like for 50,000? 

Ive got 2,000 employees here. This is a well-oiled machine. We look at everything here thoughtfully and carefully. We know what we are doing. We say this is a God, family and country school. We think the word profit is a good word, not a bad word. We think personal initiative is a good thing, not a bad thing. I’m all for the small government, not the large government. Im all for saying, Have an idea, take a risk, commit your resources, give it all you’ve got.” You ought to benefit from thatMichelle, you have done it in your own life. When you benefit and lets say you make money, what do you do with the money? You invest it. You invest it in stocks, which gives capital to companies, which means they hire employees, they buy equipment, which means you create more jobs, which means you pay more taxes. 

Im like youIm a believer in entrepreneurial spirit and in making good things happen. Therea pandemic. We just had a pandemic for a year. I didnt close the school. It stayed open the entire time. In the United States of America, you will not believe this statistic. This past fallcolleges and universities in America collectively had on average a reduction in enrollment of 14.2%. At High Point University, we went up 5.6%. 

Did you go to online classes or was this still in person? 

Noeverythings going on right here in person. Even graduation is in person. 

You also have a business school. You focus on entrepreneurship. You have a whole entrepreneurship program. 

We have a center for entrepreneurshipcenter for sales, big business school. 

I also remember because you are all about the customer experience, the student experience, the parents experience. You have a Director of Wow because you are all about creating Wow experiences. You also, if I remember correctly, have a director of UNWOW. 

Yes. The whole idea of the Wow was to focus on the UNWOW. Im glad you remembered all that because the way to improve a businessan organization or a person is to say, what are the UNWOWs that are irritating our customers? The challenge is if you focus on UNWOWs, you can become a negative person. People could say, “She only sees the glass thats empty. You have to focus on Wowstoo. I tell people the Wowshould be a part of your unconscious competency. Its there. You appreciate it. You see it and you get engaged in it. The UNWOW is your conscience competence. You have to consciously look for them. 

What did we do at High Point University? This applies to any business and anybody reading. Number one, we created valueYou have to have value, whether its appreciated or not. You have great value. Number two, we interpreted the value. Thats where appreciative value comes in. When you interpret the value, its like buying a chair from me. I can say, “Look at this chair. Its beautiful. There are a lot of value. It will look beautiful in your home. I go to interpretation of value. This chair is made of fabric that doesnt burn. This chair is made of fabric that could be wiped if you have little children. You can wipe it up very easily. Its different. This chair is made of the finest wood. It’s made by handcrafted experts who know this. Now, Im interpreting the value. The price of the chair in your mind, the appreciated value just shoots up. 

Third, what we did is we’ve got rid of the irritants. When Im speaking with CEOs, I will say, “Pick piece of paper and a pen and write for me in the next 30 seconds three things that irritate your customers about you. What are they?” Do you know that most CEOs never call their reception desk? They have no idea or even that recording now that you have, what that sounds like. They have a direct line to the VP and so on. They were not walking in the shoes of the customerMichelle. How do you improve if you dont do that? The last one is we add Wow to the experience. The Wow was not always in the physical. The Wow was quite often as in the service, as you outlined how people feel, herethe most important question of communicating with people. How much this person feels first? This person will do what you want them to do. The moment you accomplished thatyou are home-free. 

I remember all the stories that you used to tell on stage. I like the shower was leaking, the director of Wow will show up with a basket of their favorite food. One of the intakes that you do when you bring students in, not you but one of your staff is asking, “Whatyour favorite food? Whats your favorite soft drink?” and then deliver a basket to create that Wow experience and then Wow occur. I remember the washing machine incidenttoo. Remember what was left of the washing machine? The boys were coming in and taking the girls clothes. Some things never change for boys. What did you do? You enter it like a GPS on the washer and dryer that would ring to the students phone. The student will know when loads were done. Its simple as that. 

FYE 32 | Business Fundamentals

Business Fundamentals: As we grow older, we should become wiser. As we become wiser, we should be able to be more first. Being comes ahead of doing.


That’s for energy management so you can find it on your computer and see which machine is available. Go downput this stuff, and then it shoots you an email two minutes before it finishes so you can go pick it up. 

I have been to High Point University. I think the steakhouse is incredible. 

Michelle, you’ve got to come backWe built $170 million hotel conference center and arena. You are a woman of great style. It would knock your socks off. You will be able to see the beauty through your lenses differently than other people perhaps might see them. Some people dont appreciate the finer things in life. You will be able to spot those very quickly. We have a Hospitality major and an Events Planning major. We wanted to create a laboratory for them. The next time you come here, its a small boutique hotel but everything is right there. Its gorgeous. It has a new restaurant called Alo, similar to the steakhouse that you remember. Itpretty cool. 

We tell students, “Doncome to High Point University unless you want to succeed in life. That’s why we are the premier life skills university. We make sure that you learn what you must learn inside the classroom to master your discipline but thats not enough. Youve got to be prepared for life. Its called life skills. Its not soft skills. Every employer will tell you that those life skills are of great importance. New college graduates failed because they were not coachable. They fail because they dont know how to think. They failed because they are not ready for the world as it is going to benot as it wasnot as it is. You and I are focused on the future, not on the past and the world is moving so fast. 

You have to have me come back and speak. Lettalk about the habits of super successful people. Maybe share some of your habits. I love the fiveminute units but share some of your daily routines and your daily habits?  

I have a very focused and disciplined life. Italso a lot of fun and relaxation in my lifeI have plenty of time for everything I do. Im engaged in my community in my region, in the country, several organizations, I chair boardsI volunteer in many different ways and so on. I believe that to whom much is givenmuch is indeed requiredWe have to demonstrate it in everything that we do. That doesnjust have to do with money. It has a lot to do with servicecomplimenting others and encouraging, being an encourager to others, not putting people down but lifting people up. We all want to be lifted up. We dont need to help people out. We need to help them up so that they can have a life filled with success and framed with significance. 

I go to sleep every night at 9:00. I watch about fifteen minutes of television unless its a ball game, in which case I might watch longer. I read two books a week. I wake up about 3:00 every single morningI woke up at 1:00. I went to bed at 9:00, woke up at 1:00. I had enough sleep and I worked from 1:00 until 6:00 by my fireplace in my home. Whether Im in High Point, North Carolina or on a private island where I have a home right smack dab on the oceanI like my fireplace. It could be summertime. It doesnt matterThe fireplace is not about the heat. Its about inspiration. I work from 3:00 to 6:00. At 6:00, I walk with one of my buddies for one hour in the neighborhood. Fast walk for about 3.5 miles then I come back and get ready to come to work. 

At workI do the most important things first. These typically have to do with me talking to my levers. Even though I have 2,000 employees, I have about ten levers. Think of a seesaw that has a lever. What individual has the leverage to make your business grow or make your business go backward? First thing in the morning, Im meeting with my folks. I dont bring them to my office. I walk to their office. That way I can stand up and leave when Im ready to leave. They have all learned how to deal with me. They make the stack of the stuff that they want to show me or a list, 1, 2, 3, 4 and we go bam. 

I have clarity of thought. Therefore, I can make decisions very quickly and usually done with intentional congruence that my decisions are congruent with our goals, mission, vision and values. I have some meetings and so on throughout the days like that. Itmeetings. Itdecision-making. Itdoing my emails. I do all my personal emails. I get about 300 a day. I answer them all myself. I dont have a neutral email that goes to a secretary or an admin. I answer quickly with 5 words or 2 lines. I tell people, “When you write me, write me six lines or less. Donsend methese long essays. This is not a doctoral dissertation. If you do that, I will print it out, put it in my stack, read it the next morning between 3:00 and 6:00.” 

I go home roughly 6:00 unless there is a game or something I need to go support studentsI go homeI sit down with my wife. We have one glass of wine or sometimes two and we insist on good wine. I dont drink cheap wine. Cheap wine gives you a headache. I drink good wine and I always like to have it with some peanuts or some green olives or something like that. We chitchat about the day. At about 8:15I will go upstairs and get myself ready for the next day. 

Heresa crazy thing about me. When I go upstairs, I take my clothes off and I put out my clothes for the next morning, right down to the stain in the shirt and cufflink in the cuff of my shirt and my socks. I will tell you something about me nobody knows. The tie I wear, I never take it off like undo it. When I pick the stuffI loosen it up, pull it over my head and hang it up. Thats from years and years of traveling every single day to speak, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. When I get to the hotel, you are tired. You go to sleep. Get up the next morning. Youve got a thousand people waiting for you. I dont want to stand there and try to do the tire and it doesnt work so now Im upset. The day hasnt even started yet. I have learned to take all these irritants out of the system. I dont want to get up the next morning and say, “What shirt? What tie? What suit?” I look at the weather and I prepare it. I take my vitamins and stuff. I go to sleep. Thatthe routine of my day. 

On SaturdaysI typically will read a book. I have read several good books lately. I read a book called 2030 being predictive about the next decade. I read a book called Think Again, which is a good book by Adam Grant. Ita book about always doublecheck your premises. Dont assume something is because it was. Always dig deeper. I say it this way“Donbe a horizontal thinker. Be a vertical and diagonal thinker.” You can see the interrelationships with all your thoughts. I like to study a lot and I read good books. I dont read Mickey Mouse stuff. I read solid stuff. Sunday is usually my day off. If Im at the beach, Im walking every day on the beach. I’m on a private beach and a few other homes there and hardly ever anybody walking on the beach. Itlike privacyI ride my bike a lot. I dont play golf. Therefore, I have a lot of time. 

Probably because it wastes too much time. I live on a golf course. I dont play golf. I tried. Its a big-time waster. Did you read one book every Saturday? 

I read a book a weeksometimes two. If Im at the beach, I read at least two books a week. I always have a stack of books and people send me a book. I love that. People who know me know that if they are going to give me a gift, they give me a good bottle of wine or a book. These are the two thingsI always have an ample supply of good wine. One of my good friends is the lady who is Chair of the Board of a company called MyEyeDr. They have 800 locations. She sends me all these sunglasses. She sent me three pairs, one of them was a Ferragamo pair of glasses. She sends me nice glasses. I always get compliments on my sunglasses. Therea lesson in thatI jokingly say, Among the friends that you have, make sure some of them are rich.” Itfor your benefit. They give you nice gifts and have nice dinner parties. You enter rich and you exit rich. 

Thats why Im helping more and more people exit rich. What is it like to sit on the Board of La-Z-Boy, nThrive and some of these major Fortune 500 companies? 

sit on the board of the six largest financial institutions in the United States. It$500 billion in assets, about 60,000 employees. Im the longest-serving Director on that board. I have been on the board for many years. It came from me starting a bank with a couple of guys and then selling it and become as a merger. What can I tell you? UsuallyIm the pick and I always make it to the next level. Itan amazing thing because, on the one hand, you must bring forth appreciated value. You must be a contributor. You must understand the business. You must be a leader, a person of value. Second, you learn so much because of these mega boards and they are bringing the finest in the country. You are going to learn about eCommerce. You are going to learn about cybersecurity, marketing and risk managementIm a learnerI love to learn. It’s terrific. 

By the way, these boards pay you a handsome fee as well. For me, it was never enough the fee because when I would go to a board meeting six times a year, I would give up six presentations, real speeches where I would make a lot more moneyI didnt do it for the money. I even didnt do it for the prestige. I did it because I believe that the circle of influence, the zone in which you reside, influences, impacts and affects the person you become. You want to be in a zone that lifts you up, nurtures you, that nourishes you and that keeps moving forwardThese boards, as you know, tend to have some of the great leaders of the country on them. 

What were you like as a little boy? 

I was rambunctious. That’s what I wasI gave my mom a hard time. Im 1 of 5. My father died when I was six years of age and my mother was widowed at age 40 or 42. We didnt have any money and she had to learn to become a seamstress. She made clothes for people and worked day and night to feed us and clothe us. My mom never told me, “We cant afford thatson. I never heard those words. wrote a book with learning from my mom called Uncommon SenseMy mom had an uncommon sense. She had fourthgrade education but she knew her stuffI learned so much from her. She would say to me, “Who you spend time with is who you become.” Great lesson. What you choose is what you get. You are responsible for your own choices. How you change is how you succeed. You dont want to changeForget it. Life is moving fast. You are going to be left behind. I was the youngest of the five. My next brother was thirteen years older than me. Maybe I was like an only childI was very naughty. My mom had a time with me and I didnt appreciate how sacrificial she was until much later in life. You know how we are, we dont acknowledge what our parents do until we become adults. 

It was all boys. No girls? 

It’s 3 boys, 2 girls in the family. I finished high school. I always liked girls so that caused a lot of problems with my mom. I hung around with girls and so on, sometimes girls with different religions. Going back a few yearsthat wasnt a cool thing to do especially in the Middle East. She sent me to America because she wanted me to have a better life. I came to this country at age seventeen and its interesting. 

You came by yourself, right? 

did. Sometimes out of adversity can emerge abundance. My life is about turning points. My dad died. That was a turning point. I didnt have a dad. He was sick and I never experienced a dad. I came to Americaturning pointI became President of High Point University, turning point. The issue about turning points is that enough turning points accumulate slowly and cumulatively. They become your tipping point to think differentlythe tipping point to amass wealththe tipping point to become more successfulthe tipping point to be more helpful to others. 

I had a speech one time about turning points. I taught these turning pointsI would pause and say, “What are the turning points in your life? Remember that time when you failed miserably and you thought your lifes coming to an end? That was a great turning point because if you were smart, you looked at your failures as productive failures. You dissected them. You learn from them. You avoided repeating the same mistake next time. Life is amazing. We screw it up. We make it difficult but that is amazing. The more informed you are, the more you can deal with the difficulty should it come your way. 

Were you the only one that came to the US?  

My mom came afterward and my brothers came. 

You were the first? 


You’ve got into High Point University. 

I wasnt a straightA student. I was having to work all day and what few hours I had left in the week, I told you, my number one interest wasgirls. I was the coolest foreign student in those days. I had a cute accent. I had the initiative and some charisma. Women like that, I dont know who chased whom but I had a lot of friends in my life. Life was wonderful. 

One of the complex questions sometimes that comes up is, how does somebody like you that has been through all this adversity, come to the United States not speaking any English and you have other people who have had much less adversity, dont do anything with their lifeWhat is that common denominatorWhat makes somebody so successful while others are not? 

AwarenessOne of the greatest gifts you can ever have in your life is the gift of awareness. Some people can walk through the most beautiful garden ever invented and not be aware of its beauty. Some people can listen to the most gorgeous piece of classical music and not even hear it. Some people can have the opportunities on a silver platter and totally ignore them and go on whining about what isnt instead of focusing on what is. These people are trying to get to no and they are trying to get to yes. 

Awareness is important. You learn awareness from the people you hang around withwhat you see and what you experience. Once you have awareness, you apply it to all kinds of things. Some people are not awarefor example, that you can succeed or you can improve lot in your life. They go on complaining about the past and the present without any view of a better future. Guess what the future is going to be like? Itgoing to be a duplication of the past. 

To complain is to remain. 

How do we get awareness? We read books. Thats a great place for awareness. We hang around people who have a sense of awareness. We go to seminars. I always tell people, “If you read a book and you pay $30 or $40 for a book and you read it. All you need is one thing out of that book. One idea. If you go to a seminar, ita three-day seminar and you walk away with one idea. Believe me. Its worth it. 

You used to see me in the front taking notes. 

You were always on the front row and by the way, you paid extra for that to be on the front row and thats what people have to understand. People who have success in life, typically pay their dues to get there. You donjust win a lottery ticket. You climb the stairs. You didnt take the elevator up there. 

You have been wonderful as always. Any other golden nuggets for our readers that you would like to leave them with? 

Just to say that hope is eternal and what comes our way does not have to stick with us forever. If its something we dont like, we can find ways to improve, enhance, increase, decrease it and whatever it is that we leave as appropriate. have a simple commitment in life, which is I invest 1/3 of my life in earning, 1/3 of my life in learning and 1/3 of my life in servingI have discovered in my life that the appropriate combination of all these three enrich my life measurably. If I only invested my time in earning, maybe I would have more legal tender but to what purpose, to what endI want to make sure that I am a holistic person. People who are built from the inside out, typically think that way. They are not just trying to get. They are also trying to give and they are joyful people. Other people want to fake it until they make it. It doesnt work. 

Whatgoing on with you now in speakingYou used to speak at so many different events and the speaking role stopped. 

The pandemic stopped all meetingsI now accept engagements very sporadically and carefully. I have traveled so much of my life that Im not that interested. I turned down all international engagementsI turned one down because dont want to do that. I am writing a couple of books. I am running a successful university. I serve on corporate boards. I am a partner in many businesses and I still speak but Im not speaking like I used to speak 140 times a year. Im speaking probably 20 or 25 times a year. I have to be honest. I do miss the kinds of meetings where you and I met and meetings like that. The reason I miss them is that everybody there is a learner. Everybody comes there to learn. They want to suck the knowledge out. That environment is conducive for growth and development. Its motivating. I have to confess I miss that. I will do some of those meetings I do a lot of YPO with successful presidents, organizations and a lot of corporate meetings. 

FYE 32 | Business Fundamentals

Business Fundamentals: If one acknowledges that there are no such things as unrealistic dreams, only unrealistic timelines, that the circumstances we find ourselves in do not define where we end up, you only determine where we start.


In the older days, my favorite used to be network marketing companies. I speak at all these big10,000 people and you come up on stage and they give you ten minutes of ovation. You havent earned it yet. They give you love first. We know you are going to be great so we are loving you already. You get up there and you do your thing. These people stand in line for 2, 3, 4 hours, one-time 5 hours to buy your books, take a picture with you. They weren’t saying, I care so much about you. You made my life. 

What they were saying is, “You are a conduit at this point in my life. You are a connector for me. You said, did and taught me something that has connected me with my soul and now I believe I can or now I believe I can move in this direction, that direction.” I always walked away feeling so good that I could help someone. You know my styleI am one of a statesman style on a stage. I dont push people. I dont try to sell them stuffjust want to help. As a result, a lot of people have appreciated that over the yearsremember me and in many ways, recommend me to be on this boardto speak over here or even send their students to High Point University, all of which is to the good thaIm deeply grateful. 

You have lived an amazing life. Is there anything that you are hoping to achieve? Any one more thing that you havent done that you really want to accomplish? 

There are a lot of things. For example, in my home city, in 2019, I raised $100 million because our city was not doing very well. It was $100 million to build a baseball stadium with the hope that around it, they will have a lot of economic development. Sure enough, now with those going up, apartments going up, I have loved that. We dont have a childrens museum in our city so my family and I have built a $30 million museum in High Point, North Carolina for childrenI wanted to make it available for those who can and cannot afford it. We have accomplished that. My heart, I believe, is in the right placeI have been so blessed in many ways that I want to give, share, help and plant the seeds of greatness in other peoples lives. 

In my home city, I take leadership positions to move our people forwardIm talking to you, my friend. I have a good reputationI celebrate that because at the end of the day, isnt that whats so important to us? You could have $10 billion but if people dont like you or respect you, what are you going to do with the money? You are just going to buy a bigger yacht and a bigger house. At some point, money has a definitive place of influence. 

We value our relationships. I respect every individual, regardless of who they are or where they come from, whether I agree with them or not and then I value every relationship. You value the relationship based on a win-win, whatgood for them. I dont want to win and you lose. Frankly, I dont want to lose and you win. I want a win-win relationship because those are the longerlasting. You and I havent talked for a few years but when you wrote me, I said, I would love to be with you.” You dont have to see someone every day for them to be a good friend. Friendship has a way of spreading its wings. You and I are helping people every day with things we have learned and committed ourselves to. That, in the end, is what I think makes life worth living. 

I feel honored and blessed that you have given me lots of units. Thank you so much for coming to my showAny last words or how people can get in touch with you? I know you are extremely busy. 

Michelle, I have known you for a long time. I have always respected you and admired you for your tenacity, innovation, spirit and desire to learnYou have written a great book and you are doing great things. Be assured that the benefit was all mine for being with you here. I wish you greatness in all you doI hope that we will see each other in person before too long. 

I am looking forward to coming back to High Point University, staying at the boutique hotel and bringing my daughter to the childrenmuseum. 

You are welcome anytime. The red carpet is out for you. 

Thank you so much. My husband adores you so I will make sure I bring him, too. 

Bring them over, Michelle. 

Dr. Nido Qubein, thank you so much for being with us. Thank you to all of my readers. 

Important Links: 

About Dr. Nido Qubein

FYE 32 | Business FundamentalsDr. Nido Qubein came to the United States as a teenager with little knowledge of English and only $50 in his pocket. His journey has been an amazing success story. The Biography Channel and CNBC aired his life story titled “A Life of Success and Significance.”

As an educator, he is president of High Point University, an undergraduate and graduate institution with 4,300 students from 40 countries. He has authored two dozen books and audio programs distributed worldwide.

As a business leader, he is chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Company with 220 stores in 43 states. He serves on the boards of several national organizations including BB&T (a Fortune 500 company with $185 billion in assets), the La-Z-Boy Corporation (one of the largest and most recognized furniture brands worldwide), and Dots Stores (a chain of fashion boutiques with more than 400 locations across the country).

As a professional speaker, Dr. Qubein has received many distinctions including the Golden Gavel Medal, induction into the International Speaker Hall of Fame, and as the founder of the NSA Foundation in Arizona.

He has been the recipient of many honors including The Ellis Island Medal of Honor (along with four U.S. presidents), The Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans (along with Oprah Winfrey and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas), the DAR Americanism Medal, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, Sales and Marketing International’s Ambassador of Free Enterprise, Leadership North Carolina Governor’s Award, and Citizen of the Year and Philanthropist of the Year in his home city of High Point, North Carolina.

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