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To the Foundation Organization:

All my life I’ve had baseball, football, basketball, swimming, track, and other coaches give me lessons on how to excel and win in life. In my two years at Southwestern Advantage, Aaron Schafer, Kevin Johnson, The Foundation, and my student manager, Christie Bradley have taught me more about myself; strengths and weaknesses, and how to reach my full potential than any of these coaches.

Most of the students that start their summers with Southwestern Advantage either go in with an open mind or extremely pessimistic and scared. My thought process was, “I don’t have to do this and I don’t really want to, but I’ll just wait till I hear back from a friend of a friend who’s neighbor is a CEO.” Also just coming off a crazy and expensive summer going to Wakarusa music festival and following Phish, Umphreys, and STS9 I wasn’t opposed to just doing that again. So fast forward to January when that promising dream job was non-existent — I weighed my options (none) and decided to sell books.

Before I ever stepped out onto the “bookfield” I would have considered myself as pretty confident, slightly cocky, and maybe a little spoiled. The one person able to help me through all my emotions or doubts throughout the summer was Christie. I admired her honesty more than anything. I knew what to expect, and I knew it would be a huge challenge, but she was the ideal role model and mentor that I needed to succeed. Despite me looking for any excuse to not sell, Christie told me about the arsenal of great management and the rest of The Foundation who strap up their shoes every day, and make the conscious decision to form successful habits that average people avoid. It became fun and competitive instead of just a job.

My first summer went like every other rookie. I had good days and bad days. I’d be unstoppable one minute and the next my car gets stuck on a dirt road. I had people make me dinner, and I heard thousands of “no’s.” Some people loved what I was doing and others didn’t understand how my parents let me drive all the way up to Minnesota to work without a guaranteed hourly-based paycheck. Through the ups and downs the message was clear, “Control the controllables: hours, effort, and attitude; then let the rest take care of itself.”

I was able to hold my head high when I came back to Nashville at the end of my summer. I hit the “I Wanna Win Award” for having my two best weeks in sales during my final two weeks of the summer. I made about $8,000 and won the “Sizzler” trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. My message to the person reading this is that you’ll be okay. You’ll meet tons of new people, form amazing friendships, and you’ll come out possessing an uncommon quality of mental toughness that will separate you from your peers.

Thank you Aaron Schafer, Kevin Johnson, and Christie Bradley for recruiting me. My two summers in Minnesota and Virginia/North Carolina have had a huge impact on my life. Also, shout-out to the the Foundation squadron – Julie Lavender (my other amazing intellectual manager during my second summer), Dan “the helicopter-man” Milus, Dillon Barr, Mo, KP, Lomas, Drew, Diana, Chad, Morgan, Mary Lee, Willie da kid, Billy T, Scoot MaGoot, Josh Falco, Ryan, and a special thanks to all the haters.

Roll tide and Rise up Foundation,

Jack Pendergast
University of Alabama