Leadership / Rules / Success

We Are . . . Marshall!

Words of Wisdom

Mark McMillion
6 min readMay 3


Marshall University Athletics, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My daughter graduated from Marshall University this past weekend. It was a glorious weekend of course and Team McMillion showed up in force to celebrate her earning her B.S. in biology in only three years.

John Donahoe, CEO of Nike, was the commencement speaker. I wasn’t familiar with him. His introduction was impressive and I’ve delved a little more deeply into his background. That means I hit Wikipedia, LinkedIn, and the Nike website.

This guy has a history! He’s done extraordinarily well across several companies which always impresses me. Excelling at one company is commendable and awesome. Rising to the top of Bain, eBay, PayPal, ServiceNow, and Nike? That’s amazing. ServiceNow is the only one I wasn’t familiar with but Bain is easily a top three consulting company. eBay is a force, PayPal split out from eBay, and pretty much everyone is familiar with Nike. ServiceNow is a cloud company that does “digital workflows.” I’m sure that’s probably important.

Photo by Jennifer Destito, All Rights Reserved

When you look at that work experience, I see him achieving in markedly different worlds albeit with some overlap. eBay, PayPal, and ServiceNow are all Silicon Valley, digital things. eBay, PayPal, and Nike are all retail or quasi-retail companies. Bain, ServiceNow, and somewhat Nike are companies with commercial companies as customers. Nike clearly has a foot (or shoe) in both retail and B2B. Bain’s work allows them a broad exposure to a variety of companies, business practices, and models. Bottom-line is Donahoe knows how to run a business! Glad I listened to him.

His speaking style was smooth, professional, and he limited himself to three major points, each illustrated with a story. He didn’t use much emotion and the audience was hoping each graduate would get a free pair of Marshall green Nike shoes, but that didn’t happen. They did get some terrific advice though. Here are his three main points, paraphrased:

1. Never stop learning. As students, you learn a great deal from a few people (i.e. professors). After college you need to try to…



Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.