NACA BLOG - Tips for This New Educational Landscape of COVID-19 - 10/20/2021
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October 20, 2021
Frederick Shegog
CEO, The Message LLC

The greatest gift of knowledge and success is sharing it.

People always ask me, "Freddy, how have you been able to be so successful during COVID-19 with all that you carry on your plate?" COVID-19 has enhanced not only my speaking business but my personal life as well. In the middle of a global pandemic, I have been able to thrive instead of merely surviving. Currently, I am the operator of a motivational speaking company (www.themessagellc.com), a full-time honor student taking 18 credit hours, a family man, a volunteer, a part-time waiter, a person in long-term recovery that includes a mental health diagnosis, and a mentor. I have been able to uplift my life and business through the methodology of health being wealth. A daily regime that focuses on a healthy foundation of spiritual, physical, and mental well-being is the key to success. The application of those areas has branched out into networking, time management, and high-quality health. Allow this blog to be a tutorial for success this fall and moving forward in the new educational landscape of COVID-19. 

Prioritize health.

Health is wealth! That is the famous quote so often stated but honestly not displayed in behavior considering the statistical decline in American health. COVID-19 has exposed the truth about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. When I enrolled in college, I had a solid foundation in recovery and overall health that brought out my best. I woke up to prayer, a nutritious breakfast, mental health medication, daily mediation, and looking over my assignments for that day. I had a day of health that put me in my best mind frame before dealing with the rigorous work of the college. I realized that intelligence mixed with a confident, healthy lifestyle could take me to greater heights in life. By having different avenues of health at my disposal, I was able to avoid major pitfalls. Each health practice played a pivotal role in all the areas I needed to become a successful high honors graduate. My confidence skyrocketed, and I took the risk of building a speaking company that changed the course of my life. 

Network, network, network.

My brother and recovery advocate Cameron Siler of New Jersey famously states, "Freddy, your network will determine your net worth!" The college experience has taught me the system of networking and how it can genuinely change your life. I began to receive scholarships because of the fruits of my labor in the classroom. These scholarships led to award dinners with donors, other scholarly students, and higher education administrators/professors. Here I learned how to use elevator speeches and the proper etiquette of being a professional – networking at these events opens doors to new books, speaking engagements, and priceless wisdom.

So, you see, the formula for a successful career can be step by step scholarships, award dinners, and networking. Understand that when I add these new network members to my life, they push me to become a better version of myself. I realized that they could only help me if I were helping myself. They are there as guides and, during critical moments, help me tap into my potential. I am blessed to have a high-functioning village that helps to develop my success. How do you become a master? Study and learn from other masters.

Optimize your time.

If I had a dime for every time I heard, "Freddy, there are not enough hours in a day!" I combatted that pessimistic view by writing down my actions of every hour on a given day. Suddenly I noticed how much time I was genuinely wasting. My experience taught me that time was not the issue; instead, what I did with my time was the key. I learned that being a productive adult meant doing what I did not want to do when I must do it.

In the fall semester of 2019, I was blessed to travel to five cities in six weeks. In each of these cities, I was tasked with conferencing, speaking, and networking. At the same time, I maintained my academic duties as a Phi Theta Kappa student and leader on campus. I specifically remember wanting to enjoy ribs and the beautiful nightlife of Kansas City with my colleagues. However, I had a term paper due during an important time in the semester. I realize that I am not guaranteed to return to each city I visit. It has become a personal goal to enjoy every moment of each visit. However, I made the tough decision to forgo that night of entertainment and good food for hotel vending machine food with water.

For a person with such high energy and, at times, uncontrollable happiness, this decision was an enormous milestone in my maturity. For years in my addiction and recovery, I was erratic, along with disastrous episodes of being compulsive. Looking back, I realized I was learning to place needs over wants. Since then, time management has become a way of life that allows me to be productive rather than busy. No matter the accomplishment, money, or material possessions, time is something we never get back. I implore us all to cherish every second that we are given! 

Set audacious goals.

Education has changed forever and will be a test for everyone. As a nation of education, we have the chance to show the next generation how to overcome tumultuous times. Let us show them that COVID-19 will not cripple our education system but rather help us dig deeper into our repertoire of intellect. Being at a new university on a full-paid scholarship while taking 18 credits in the honors program is challenging. Furthermore, I am blessed to be booked with six contracted keynote engagements and one being a national conference. Since COVID-19, my business has tripled, and I believe schools are beginning to recognize the importance of mental health/substance abuse disorder. All of the student affairs and administrators I have dealt with continue to share how their students are struggling with these issues. Being a student in recovery, I can relate to them in ways that go beyond the academics. A student made my company logo after she heard my story during this pandemic. She told me it uplifted her to pursue her dreams regardless of the pandemic and start working on herself from an emotional standpoint. I cried because I realized there is a massive problem on our campuses, but also, I am blessed to help solve the issue. There is no greater feeling than to know administrators see the value of my story and the ability to uplift their student bodies. My goal is to graduate with summa cum laude honors and as valedictorian of my class. In the end, if my goals are not scaring me, they are not big enough! I can only accomplish that by using the tools, as I stated in this piece. 

Frederick Shegog is the Founder/CEO of The Message LLC, a motivational speaking organization, and is a person in recovery. He is a high honors graduate of Delaware County Community College with an Associate of Arts (AA) in Communication and Media Studies. He can be reached for services at www.themessagellc.com.




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