It was an honor to speak at Dr. Lisa Spiller’s retirement celebration. The number of lives she has influenced and impacted is remarkable.
I’m fortunate to be one of her students who championed what she taught.
Here is a video and the text of my speech.
Leading With A Servant’s Heart – Speech for Dr. Lisa Spiller’s Retirement Celebration.
By Charles George
When I think of Dr. Lisa Spiller, I think of the handful of people who have made the biggest difference in my career, but more importantly, my life.
A few weeks ago, in Dr. Spiller’s office, we started talking about the topic of servant leadership. Ironically, she mentioned that until recently, she had never heard the term. I laughed when she said this and immediately told her, “You may have just heard the term, but you are an exemplary model of servant leadership. You have done this your entire life.” We continued to laugh, and eventually, she agreed.
When I was a student twenty years ago, during my marketing classes, Dr. Spiller would often announce, “This is a lifelong commitment. It doesn’t end when you graduate.”
I’m fortunate to be one of the students who took her up on that offer.
In 2003, I was in the first graduating class where Dr. Spiller was able to implement an entire marketing curriculum based on direct response.
In my first direct marketing class, our job as students was to proof the first edition of Dr. Spiller’s textbook, Contemporary Direct and Interactive Marketing which she coauthored with Martin Baier.
This is my notebook from that class. I still have my copy of the proof textbook, and I still reference my notes from her class. What she teaches is timeless, and it applies to both offline and online today.
You see, Dr. Spiller taught me a lot about marketing. She taught me the differences between customer acquisition and customer retention and how to do both.
Most importantly, she taught me the ultimate goal of direct marketing is to build strong relationships with customers. Like life, marketing is all about “Relationships! Relationships! Relationships!”
To touch on our relationship, here are a few of the accomplishments that we achieved together over the years.
-Together, we won CNU’s First Gold Echo Award from the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation
-Several years after I graduated, she asked me to help her write two chapters in the 3rd edition of her textbook. Helping her with her textbook, which taught me direct marketing, is still one of my highest honors.
-I helped her with some of the research on two of her other books, Branding the Candidate and her latest book Selling & Sales Management: Developing Skills for Success
-When she earned the title of distinguished professor, I was one of her current/former students at her celebration party. I would not miss this.
-For the last twelve years, she has asked me to be a guest speaker in her classes. Of all my speaking opportunities, this has always been my favorite.
-Most recently, her final client case study for her Marketing 470 class was the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charlottesville. This is an organization I’m extremely passionate about because my wife and I stayed there throughout the three years of my son Thomas’ life.
She told me this case study brought her full circle in her career. Her first job after graduating college was as a marketing director for a local McDonalds restaurant. And her last client case study was the Ronald McDonald House in Charlottesville.
As I have mentioned, Dr. Spiller has always been supportive throughout my career and life.
Not too long ago, I reached a new milestone that I was really excited about.
We had been texting about this achievement, and when it finally happened, here is the text Dr. Spiller sent me.
“Chuck, very few things really happen by “luck” — don’t discount your vision and expertise, and your caring and always helpful attitude! 🙂”
My response to her text was.
“And that is why I will always sing your praises. It’s your life long support that you promised, when I was a student, so many years ago. Even today, you continue to deliver on that promise.”
Last Thursday, David Hancock, who owns Morgan James Publishing, spoke in Dr. Spiller’s 8:00 a.m. class. He stayed for her 9:30 class, where Rita Ralston, the Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald of Charlottesville, and I shared feedback with the students on their marketing campaigns.
Dr. Spiller told her class that I was the one who introduced her to both Rita and David.
I followed that by saying, “I can’t help but notice that it’s Dr. Spiller’s last day of teaching, and she has some of my favorite people here today.”
Dr. Spiller always tells me that I give her too much credit when I rave about and thank her profusely for teaching me direct marketing.
I always say that I can never thank her enough because what she taught me changed my life dramatically.
In closing, I want to share my favorite marketing quote by Dr. Spiller.
She said this when I was a student, and she still echoes this today.
Here is the quote:
“Direct marketing is like shark marketing on a minnow’s budget.”
Dr. Spiller, you will always be a shark in my life, and we will always be on the same team.
Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do that has made such a remarkable difference in my life! I can never thank you enough!