Tour Guides and Trailblazers
Most leaders are tour guides covering familiar terrain. Their predictable speeches and their conventional routes teach us in a comfortable way. Without them, each generation would repeat the same mistakes and chaos would be king. Nevertheless, we also need trailblazers; we need leaders that challenge convention and show us new paths. My past experiences and my future plans show that I am a trailblazer.
My mother is an interior designer and I grew up working in her business. So, it was natural for my wife and me to open our own interior design business serving the booming new housing market in Houston. To differentiate ourselves from the extensive competition, I introduced various financing programs. Our “90 days same as cash” program was so successful that all of our competitors copied the program within six months. This and other innovations
helped to contribute to the success of our business.
In 1993, a new game was released called Magic: the Gathering. Although the original premise was to create a fantasy-based card game, it quickly became a sophisticated strategy game like chess or bridge. Hasbro now prints it in seven languages and millions of people worldwide play at over 80,000 official tournaments each year. I started playing in 1994 and won enough tournaments to make a living. Traveling around the country playing in tournaments and improving my strategies lead to my winning the North American Championship. This allowed me to write strategy articles and have a sponsor. I was the first person to play the game professionally partly because I was able to perceive opportunities
and solutions where many other people did not perceive them.
The technology behind the World Wide Web was invented in 1993 and entrepreneurs were using this technology to pioneer new business concepts. I learned this new technology and in 1996, went to work for a healthcare staffing company. The marketing manager at this company was very progressive and had created their initial website himself. He hired me to maintain and expand the website he had created. While the website was functional, it had some drawbacks and it limited our ability to find new healthcare workers on the Web. After only two weeks, I proposed that we completely redesign the website; I prepared a prototype of the new design and explained the advantages of adopting my idea. Over the next year, the website progressed from generating 5% of the new employment applications to 40%. The changes and the positive results that followed were primarily due to my problem-solving skills
A few years later, I felt that I was not a well-rounded person because I spent most of my day working on logical problems. I was satisfied with my rational abilities, but I felt emotionally underdeveloped. I decided to take a job at a quality restaurant to learn more about the epicurean arts and to improve my social skills. My family questioned if I would be able to handle working as a waiter. However, my adaptability
and desire to improve myself
helped me to learn enough about food and people to be successful in this new environment.
A natural extension of my desire to improve myself is the desire to help other people make their own changes. When given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to teach computer certifications at a small vocational school. My students were typically unskilled workers, with poor reading and math skills, and they hoped to find a better job by earning computer certifications. Most of them had to balance 20 hours of class a week, additional reading at home, their family, and a full-time job. Furthermore, approximately 30% of my students spoke English as a second language. When I started at the school, our dropout rate was close to 50%. I had a hard time reconciling the burning desire of our students and the thousands of dollars they were spending with the poor completion rate. I felt that we could do more to help them, so I turned to a member of our staff who was a former schoolteacher. She showed me educational theory and practical teaching skills. With this knowledge, I completely redesigned the curriculum, created hands-on labs, and offered my students self-assessment exams. Learning to create labs and curricula challenged me to use new methods and mediums for communication. Additionally, I worked with each student on a personal basis to help him or her stay focused and optimistic. With the help of others in the school, the dropout rate for my students was 5%. I feel that my communication skills
and my ability to motivate others
helped me to be an effective instructor.
In the months prior to the Iraq war, I was distressed not only by the decision to go to war, but also by the process we used to make that decision. I started writing articles and posting them on my website, www.HunterThinks.com
, as a way to share my views of the situation and the process. I never thought that I would stop the war, but I hoped that I would help temper the war mongering and decrease the likelihood of future wars. I have a strong desire to contribute to others
, and I would like to be able to do this in my work and not just as a hobby.
To be a successful trailblazer one must have the vision
to know where a trail could be and not be limited by where the trail currently is. Over the last few years, I have identified many issues and ideas I would like to research. The following are some of the issues that I could learn more about by studying law.
Many researchers are publishing about the connection between poverty and violence, and world leaders are beginning to notice. For example, the UN recently published the Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
. They cite an interesting study that linked the likelihood of civil war to the gross domestic product per capita of a nation. I would like to study how laws and treaties promote and prevent poverty.
I would like to study the current ways that our government collects taxes and appropriates expenditures. I want to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the current system and explore alternatives. Specifically, I suspect that eliminating the general fund and tying all appropriations to specific taxes will have a profound effect on the way government spends money. There are obvious logistical problems with this idea, but it may focus debates on individual issues instead of having a general debate about deficits and surpluses.
For the last few decades, people have criticized voter apathy in the United States. I feel that a portion of the voter apathy can be linked to our highly centralized government. Local elections are relatively unimportant because virtually all issues in local government are heavily influenced at the state and federal level. For example, voting for a new city council member will probably not have a real impact on the efficiency of your local government. I want to study the advantages and disadvantages of centralized government and examine ways to get more citizens involved in government.
One of the most significant aspects of our legal system is the concept of checks-and-balances. My current understanding is that the system is mostly horizontal - the different branches regulate each other, and somewhat vertical - the federal government regulates the lower governments. I would like to understand how the system could be made significantly more vertical. It seems to me that individual citizens, local governments, and state governments should all have effective ways to check the power of the other levels of government. There are some mechanisms currently in place (e.g. lawsuits), but I would like to explore more extensive and more efficient methods.
I would like to study the connections between education, poverty, and crime. Publicly funded education was a major contributor to America’s economic success yet it remains a lightning rod for controversy. Increasing access to education has often been shown to lower crime rates in communities, but we rarely debate education as an issue of crime prevention. I would like to understand how the education system is currently legislated and explore changes to improve access to education.
Law school is an important and necessary step for me to understand these issues. To quench my thirst for knowledge, I will need to study fields such as education, sociology, economics, and political science. And to fulfill my desire to make positive changes in my community, I will need to propose changes in the law. I would like to learn about the law now, so that I may study all of these issues from the perspective of the legal system.
I am a trailblazing leader. I am innovative, adaptable, perceptive, and a good motivator; I have a strong desire to improve myself and contribute to others; I have strong problem solving and communication skills. Most importantly, I have a clear vision of where I want to go.