Published on May 18, 2012 by Sean Flynt 

Retired Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama Senior Vice President of Marketing Bill Dixon delivered the 2012 commencement address for Samford University’s Brock School of Business May 18. The InsideOut, LLC founder also serves the school as a member of its Advisory Board and as adjunct business professor. “His classes are regularly cited by students for their application for real-world business situations and for the outstanding guest speakers he brings to his classes from his many business connections,” said Brock School of Business dean J. Howard Finch.

Dixon said that when his students learned that he would be speaking at their commencement, they offered some practical advice of their own. He should “keep it short,” they said, and present only one of the three drafts he’d already written. Dixon said even dean Finch pointedly mentioned the event’s “tight schedule”. Astute businessman that he is, Dixon got the point and delivered high quality on a limited budget. For his commencement advice, he shared four “truths” that have shaped his life both personally and professionally.

First, Dixon cautioned graduates to keep good company. “As you begin your career, as you begin your family life, as you begin your involvement in church and community, be aware that there’s going to be a lot of peer pressure, and some of it will be poised as that which good for you, but be careful” he said. “If you want to be a disciple of Christ, then allow those who are disciplined in Christ to influence you,” he continued. “If you want to have great families, then allow those who have great families influence you. If you want to be kind and considerate, then let those who are kind and considerate influence you”. Dixon also passed along his mother’s simple but powerful admonition to “remember whose you are”.

Dixon also urged the graduates not to lose sight of the joy in their lives even in times of sadness, and to understand that life contains a mix of both. “Your lives, going forward will not always be days of hope and celebration, excitement and joy,” he said. “I challenge you, in the good times and difficult times, to remember that God is in the mix, and God is just as much in control when it’s hard as when it’s easy, when it’s happy as when it’s sad”.

Relating a true story about a man who died when a small sore became infected, Dixon noted that the smallest, seemingly inconsequential things can get bigger. “Beyond anything else, know yourself,” Dixon said. “Know who you really are, know the very best of who you are and the very worst of you are, and be careful, because the small things can ruin your life”.

Finally, Dixon, who holds a Master of Arts degree in Religion from Samford, told of his experience leading an indebted and declining church as a student at Auburn University in 1970. His own family’s finances suffered in the struggle to save the church, and one year it seemed there would be no money for family Christmas gifts. Then, one December morning, Opelika First National Bank president Frank Morris gave Dixon a check for $150. It was the first of five such annual gifts from Frank and Jane Morris, meant to help Dixon’s struggling family and church. Dixon said he looks for those whom he can support in the same way, and urged graduates to do the same. “Give more than you take,” he advised them. “You cannot out-give those who give to you”.

“If you apply these four principles you will not only live smart, but you will live well,” Dixon concluded.

During the Friday commencement ceremony, Brock School of Business presented 67 Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degrees, 25 Master of Business Administration degrees, 16 Master of Accountancy degrees and four Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Fellows degrees.
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.