More than 500 students gathered in the auditorium inside Eberly College of Business and Information Technology on Tuesday, October 20, to attend the inaugural Stover Speaker Series, an event created to bring speakers of national and international prominence to speak at IUP.
The series was endowed by IUP business graduates Dennis Stover ('76) and Regina Stover ('75). Michael Bergdahl, a world-renowned professional speaker, internationally read author, and former business executive, served as the first speaker of the series.
Bergdahl worked as the director of People for Wal-Mart directly under Sam Walton, the company’s founder. He opened his speech by encouraging his audience to find a mentor to “show them the ropes,” just as Bergdahl found Walton.
“If you want to accelerate your growth, if you want to move faster than you ever have before, find your mentor,” he said. Bergdahl added that he has a list of more than 30 individuals who he considers personal mentors.
Throughout his speech, Bergdahl shared the fundamentals and lessons he learned from Walton.
“Sam Walton was a high achiever,” Bergdahl said. “He wanted to be the best of the best. He wanted to be the standard by which other people would be judged, and he never asked anyone to do anything that he hadn’t yet proven he could do himself.”
Bergdahl reiterated the principles he learned from Walton, while also focusing on his latest book, "H.E.A.T.K.T.E. — High
Expectations Are the Key To Everything." During his presentation, he explored strategies to empower students to bring out the best in themselves as professionals. He encouraged his audience to overcome their fears, become continuous learners, set themselves apart, take
control of their own destiny, choose to make a difference, and continue to always believe in their own ability.
“You can accomplish anything you want to accomplish if you believe it,” Bergdahl said while emphasizing the phrase: “If it is to be, it is up to me to go do it.”
Bergdahl shared stories of his failures, successes, and decisions. He encouraged the audience to pursue their own vision, avoid negative talk, and surround themselves with high achievers.
He shared quotes from his favorite business executives, and concluded his presentation with a personal story of his wife’s stroke and the resulting lifestyle changes. Bergdahl advocated for adapting to inevitable changes and surprises as he shared examples of lessons he learned.
“After my wife’s stroke, I had to go from being a proud hunter-gatherer to being a nurturer,” Bergdahl said. “I became a better father, husband, and provider as a result.”
He encouraged his audience to accept failures, trials, and discouragements and use them to build character rather than destroy it.
Student feedback regarding the event was positive. In the photo below, Eberly honors program students gathered around Dennis Stover (back row, second from left) and Regina Stover (front row, third from left) and the keynote speaker for the
event Michael Bergdahl (back row, third from left).
“It’s that time of the semester when students need a push,” said Lara Weisbach, a senior studying human resource management, operations, and general management. “Bergdahl’s inspirational speech was the perfect message for students as they work to finish out the rest of the term and seek ways to
be successful and to deal with some of the barriers ahead of them.”
Laura Edwards, a junior studying marketing, also appreciated Berdahl’s message.
“I enjoyed the personal stories that Bergdahl told,” Edwards said. “He spoke to us not only as a business executive and professional, but also as a relatable human being.”
Cyndy Strittmatter, assistant dean for Administration for the
Eberly College of Business and Information Technology, served as coordinator for the Stover Speaker Series event.
“I am really happy that we got the Stover Speaker Series off to such a great start,” Strittmatter said. “Both the Stovers and Mr. Bergdahl wanted to offer a program that greatly benefitted the students. I am confident that this goal was achieved.”
Above, from left, Dennis and Regina Stover, the benefactors of the Stover Speaker Series, stand with Michael Bergdahl, the keynote speaker.