Some people look at the world as it could be and say why. But Jim Schellinger looked at the world as it could be and said, why not? Jim has that can-do attitude to just get things done. Butler University taught him to not boast, stay humble, and get the job done. That is why he is the Ambassador of global relations in the Office of the President for Butler University. Jim wakes up every morning with a smile on his face knowing that he will improve everyone’s lives. Join Glenn Bill as he talks to Jim about his “why not” attitude that got him through life in government. Jim was actually hand-picked to be our secretary of commerce for the state of Indiana. He was also the Chairman of CSO Architects. Learn how Jim helped start the first ever Indiana Global Economic Summit. Discover why it’s important to surround yourself with a good team. Find out why political sides don’t really matter. And, know how to go through adversity with a positive attitude. Learn all this and more in today’s episode of the Get Attitude Podcast.
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Getting The Job Done With A Can-Do Attitude With Jim Schellinger Of Butler University
We have somebody that carries the light. Many have considered him to be a torchbearer. This gentleman that you’re going to meet that you’re going to learn from that I hope you tap into has an attitude of overcoming. He has an attitude of taking on things that are bigger than himself and his attitude booster number ten talks about you got to be a part of something bigger than you.
This gentleman is the Ambassador of Global Relations at Butler University. He was also our former Secretary of Commerce. The thing that’s so cool about this is he ran for Governor as a Democrat and our Republican Governor hand-picked him and said, “I want you to be our Secretary of Commerce for the State of Indiana.”
What you’ll soon find out and I’m pretty sure that this is true. That collaboration, that foresight and that light created probably the most successful and profitable relationship Indiana has ever seen in that department. Before running for governor, he was also an extremely successful entrepreneur and business owner. He was the Owner of CSO Architects here locally. The one thing I know about him is he gave away a lot of his services. He designed and created architectural plans and master plans for many nonprofits. When I think about carrying the light, I think about the one and only Jim Schellinger. Jim, welcome to the Get Attitude show.
Thanks, Glenn. It’s always good to see you.
It’s great. Welcome, and I hope you enjoy this. I interviewed you on TV. Have you ever done like this show before?
I did one time. I had the privilege of going on Gerry Dick a while back.
I think I maybe saw. Let’s get right into it. I always love our guests to talk about their definition of attitude, what attitude means to them and who was your first attitude teacher?
It’s interesting when you think about attitude. The first word that comes to mind for me is choice because you get to choose what your attitude is. As you asked that question, I’m thinking in my mind that everybody has one. You have one 24/7, whether you choose to or not, because it might not be a good attitude. It might be a bad attitude. We like to associate it as being a good attitude, but I live my life in a very positive way.
I am blessed beyond blessed. I told my wife not long ago, “If I could go back and do everything again, I wouldn’t change one single saying with the possible exception.” When I was at Notre Dame and in the five-year Architecture school program, I worked full-time at a tool shop as a steel grinder. I said, “I wish I could have gone to college without distraction and not have that.” Everything was a deadline. Every day, I have to wake up with a positive attitude. I thank God for all the blessings he’s given me. I thank God for my family. I don’t know how anybody that is blessed and couldn’t have a positive attitude.
When you think about who instilled that in you or who your attitude coach was, your first attitude coach, where do you think that came from? What was the lesson you learned?
I was talking about this. My mother was a very influential person in my life. She was the master. She was the mother of eight children and a loyal wife of Boyd. She makes eight kids in a tiny little house. As a realtor, you know the sizes of homes. This was a 995-square-foot house. There were two people sleeping in the area. It was like 450 square feet and we wanted it for nothing. If I could go back tomorrow and spend a day at that house and ride my bike, my stingray with my ball net around it to Keller Park, I’d give anything to do that.
My mom was very influential. She didn’t go to college. She skipped seventh grade because she was pretty sharp, pretty smart and she had a big influence on me. She had more common sense blending her pinky than most people have in their whole body. She was the one that is filled probably in me more than anybody that if you’re not living a life in service to others, you’re not living at all. As little as we had in terms of material wealth back in those days, every gap was filled with love and companionship of our brothers and sisters and our friends. It couldn’t have been better.
What’s her name? We got to honor her.
Patricia Schellinger.When you think about attitude, the first word that comes to mind is choice. You get to choose what kind of attitude you have. Click To Tweet
Patricia, this show is for you. God loves you. I have to go back to that tool and grinder shop. What was your attitude in that shop? What was the attitude of the people you worked with? Even though you wish you could have gone to school uninterrupted, what did that shop atmosphere and those people teach you about attitude?
When I stepped down as Secretary, I had to put together a resumé. I haven’t got a resumé since 1984. Laura says, “You can’t go longer than two pages.” I said, “I’m not 22 years old and just graduated college. I’m 61 years old. I’ve got more claim to list here.” At the tail end of it, she took exception with the fact that I wrote down three positions I held and I said were in my education and career background.
I started my career at thirteen as a dishwasher at the Moose Lodge down the street, where my uncle was a bartender at, much like the Knights of Columbus on the Northside. I graduated up to Moral Seminary at Notre Dame, where the priests are trained and where they live. I was a janitor there after school throughout my high school years. I washed and mopped the floors and taking out trash then I graduated to that grind shop. What was amazing about that, as a steel grinder, it’s the lowest job on the totem pole.
Nobody wants minimum wage, but it was a big deal to me at the time to have that income while I was going to school. No one wanted my job. As a result, I was everybody’s favorite. Everybody that wanted to gossip or talk talked to me because I was communication central. I loved it. When I look back on it, it was grueling work because steel grinding is sanding the edges of steel that is much like wood.
The difference is instead of wood, it’s steel splines and they’re harder to find. It was a time of my life that, when I look back on it, I was taught so many things. You can imagine, you’ve got a lot of tradespeople, which is a great, honest career. You got a lot of people there and here’s this kid that’s going to Notre Dame. It was a big deal for them. I took a lot of pride in that.
As such, I felt like I owed them an attitude, so to speak, as we’re talking about here, that showed that they were as important as I was. They admired that I was going to college and to Notre Dame because it’s a big deal locally, as you know, and going to be an architect. They’re mystified by that. Those gentlemen back then taught me more than I could ever put into words.
Do you have a story or was there a motto, lesson or something that somebody used to say that always comes back in your head when you think about those folks? Anything specific is what I’m getting at.
Two things I remember. One is sometimes they send me to do something and they say, “This is government work. This is G work.” I had no clue at that meant. I figured, “We’re doing some work for the United States government.” That was not the case because, basically, that meant I was doing something for somebody personal in the plant, usually, the two owners. I was doing something that was for them personally, so they call it G work, government work. That was always followed by, “It all pays the same.”
I’ve never heard that. You always learn something. I felt like there was going to be a lesson or something that we could all take from that. Thanks for doing that. Now you’re the Ambassador of Global Relations at Butler University. We talked a little and we’re going to work backward on all your accomplishments and how you’ve carried the light in different organizations. Pretty big title. When you think about Torchbearers, that title gives it.
What I’m more interested in is this Indiana Global Economic Summit. It’s the first one ever. I’d love to hear the story about how that worked and what’s the attitude lesson of starting something like that in year one. Overall, what are you doing in your position as the global relations liaison at Butler that has to do with attitude? Maybe there’s a whole bunch of stuff for you to talk about.
I’m so grateful to President Danko for giving me the opportunity to serve a Butler. Butler University, as we all know locally, is one of those things that it mirrors the State of Indiana, in my opinion. As I traveled around the world and represented Indiana from an economic standpoint worldwide, outside of Indiana, the 49, as well as countries all around the world, sometimes, we are known as being very modest people.
We don’t boast about ourselves. We don’t go around talking about ourselves. We put our nose down and we get it done. I think, in many respects, that’s Butler University. It is a very unique university. It’s a very special place. I look at it as the preeminent university in the capital city of our State of Indiana. There’s deep meaning in saying that. In terms of the first-ever inaugural Indiana Global Economic Summit, my hats off to Governor Holcomb and Secretary Brad Chambers. They did a phenomenal job with this.
This was conceived on a treadmill in Germany in 2017. Believe it or not, Glenn, I had to get up in the morning. I do a little exercise at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning and get ready for the day. I was watching TV on a treadmill and saw President Trump and former Vice President Pence giving me my first opportunity at Economic Development. I saw him at the Davos World Economic Summit. It was a lot of gems. I texted the governor. I learned to do that on a treadmill to be efficient. I said, “What do you think about a mini dial in the Midwest?”
He wrote back a couple of hours later. He said, “It sounds good. What is it?” I said, “We’ve got 37 to 38, now, I guess, 40-41 countries that have invested in Indiana in a big way.” You look at the Japanese automobiles, for instance. We have three plants, Toyota, Subaru and Honda. There’s not another state that can boast the level of involvement we have in the automobile industry beyond anybody when it comes to Japan. I said, “We’ve got 37 now, 41 countries invested in Indiana. We have got worldwide global companies that are headquartered throughout Indiana. We’ve got some of the best universities and colleges that are anywhere in the world. Why not?”
It’s one of those questions, again, I think back to attitude. I never get the quote quite right, but I always loved Bobby Kennedy when Rose Kennedy said, “Some people look at the world and say why?” Bobby said, “I look at the world as it could be and say, why not?” It was a Kennedy moment for me because I wrote back to the governor. I said, “Why not? We can do this.” There were a lot of naysayers, frankly. They thought it was a little aggressive. It was maybe too much. Nobody would come. It’s the job of the governor and Secretary of Chambers. We planned this to be on April 22nd of 2020. We all know what happened then.
While we started a forum playbook for it and I talked to people from 27 different countries about it, which were all present. I would tell you as well, but we had to cancel it. Secretary of Chambers and team picked it up. I got to attend one of the days here in town. Thirty-seven countries invested. Twenty-seven of them are here from all and these were ambassadors and council generals, business leaders and educational leaders all coming to Indianapolis. They rallied here over 1,000 people to discuss things that we’re all affected within the business. As you know, apropos to this conversation, it all starts with attitude. You have got to have a positive can-do attitude. I don’t know why you get out of bed in the morning if you didn’t have that.
When did that occur?
Over race weekend, which was a great thing because back in 2017, the governor and our team decided that we should go all out in making the Indianapolis 500 our national, international event. Sometimes it’s one of those things. It’s like when I was a kid growing up in South bend and I’d see people at the gates and our name taking pictures and I said, “What are they doing? Why are they here?” We took it for granted and there it is. People traveled to see this.
I think sometimes in Indianapolis, we take it for granted that we have IMS here. If you drive by there any time of the day or night, there are people at that gate taking pictures. I thought, “What an attraction to have all these people come in for the race.” We were hosting well over 35 countries at every single race beginning in 2017. I know it happened again in 2022 with the global summit.
In the first five years, Glenn, the five winners of the Indianapolis 500 were from five different continents, which is phenomenal. What Roger Penske and Mark Miles and Doug Boles are doing out there is inspirational. Every time I see or think about it and everywhere you go in the world, they know about the Indianapolis 500.
Penske certainly knows how to carry the light. When you said, “I think we need to do this,” and you said there were naysayers. Jim, there are people that have big visions. They have big goals. Some people think some people think big. Ladies and gentlemen, Jim Schellinger, thinks big. You may be a person reading this episode that says, “I am thinking big. I know I can do more with my life. I know that I have some ideas that are million-dollar ideas that could be earth-changing.”
Jim, I know you had those same ideas. What’s your advice to them? What are the questions you ask them? Do you have a plan? Do you have a strategy? You take on the big stuff and when people naysay like, what’s your attitude when somebody starts naysaying? For anybody out there reading that has a big goal that they haven’t hit. What’s your advice to them? What’s your process? How do you go about manufacturing? What goes on in that head of yours that’s huge?Butler University really mirrors the state of Indiana. They're modest, they don't boast, and they just get things done. Click To Tweet
I think energizer bunny. The thing is, you cannot when you have an idea and a vision for something. I’m humble because I don’t think it ever starts out that way as a vision, so to speak. In fact, some people said, “What do you think about this global summit in your vision?” I’m taken aback a little bit because on day to day, moment to moment, I’m thinking it in that way, but it is and you’re right about that. I talk about my humble background and am very proud of that. I talk about it not to say, “Poor me,” but I credit that for everything I have.
If I hadn’t had those roots, Glen, as you know, back when we were kids, all we had were is a young male person who sports. We’re taught so many values and so much about attitude when we play athletics. Now it’s so great with Title IX. It’s everybody now. It’s not limited to gender. It’s very inspirational. I would tell people when you think of something like the UNI and a global summit and people start throwing things up, “Cost or this puts a spotlight on Indiana. It’s going to show that we’re not as good as we shouldn’t be educational-wise or we eat too much and smoked too much or we’ve got this and that.”
I look at somebody say, “We don’t have an exclusive on that.” Typically, these big issues that we deal with in society, they’re not solved by a person. They’re solved by a team of people, a whole group of people that goes out and unites toward a common cost. I look at it as this may be good. It may not be. I try to do my homework upfront and put some steps out there and I take off. When I hit that proverbial wall from back in the days when we watched Animal House when the band went into the alley, when you hit that brick wall, you have a good attitude about it and say, “We’re better for giving it a shot.” You go in another direction.
I’ve had a blessing that most of the things I’ve thought of in those moments, the big ideas have come to fruition, mostly because of the people that I surround myself with and who had the good fortune of having around me. We hear from great leaders all the time, “Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.” That’s never been difficult for me. That is a long line of people. It’s never been hard to do that, but as you know, a team is the deal. It’s the magic word that gets things done. As I said, Secretary of Chambers and the team, he’d be the first. He led the charge, carried the torch, but the team did an outstanding job.
That is not an answer you get from many people that have done what you’ve done, but I think what Jim’s saying is let’s become more aware of who you’re hanging around. Let’s be more intentional about who you want to hang around. It’s not you that’s going to get your big idea to the finish line. It’s going to be you with a whole bunch of great people. That’s such great advice. I love it.
Let’s talk a little bit about being the Secretary of Commerce. You broke records flat out. You folks crushed it when you were tapped on the shoulder by Governor Holcomb. A quick question, what was the most intriguing world leader or ambassador? I’d love to know somebody that blew you away when it came to their attitude. What country? Who was it? What dinner? What was said? I’d also like to know and I’ll follow up. Maybe you don’t want to say it, but who are you disappointed in or what went wrong? Your best experience as Secretary of Commerce and maybe your worst experience as Secretary of Commerce.
There are so many as you can imagine and what an inspirational job. I said to somebody, and you think about this in your old athletic days or in your coaching days. Think about in football practice when you were so thirsty, you would have given anything for a drink of water. Even sometimes, when you got the drink of water, you still were thirsty. I had never done this before.
I’d been in the private sector my whole life but, “When you have a chance to step up and serve and can have a positive impact on people’s livelihoods in everything they do every day, it’s a thirst you can never quench. It becomes something that you just live for.” That’s what I experienced. The leaders I met all around the world and some of the best and brightest and most inspirational were right here in our humble United States, all around the country. One of the leaders that I was impressed with was Prime Minister Modi in India.
The governor and I met with him and his Chief of Staff very privately. I was stunned how much he knew about Indiana with no notes whatsoever. He took us back to Pan-Am days. He took us through the development of the Colts and the Pacers and you name it. He had everything down and talked about how he campaigned, which I thought was inspirational and a credit to our leaders in America and Indiana. He said, “I campaign on three things, increase the GDP in India and health. The way I’m going to emphasize health is through athletics.”
He said, “I have the money. I need to arenas. I need coaches. I need players. I need trainers.” If you think that was right about the time we were over there that the Indiana Pacers played in Mumbai, which was very inspirational when they played the Sacramento Kings. It was very inspirational. The young kids that were there, it was amazing. Meeting Viktor Orbán in Hungary, who can be very controversial at times in some of the stances he takes as a political leader.
It’s not fascinating. I met Justin Trudeau in Canada. He might be one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met in my life that walks in a room. Talk about lighting it up. It goes back to the attitude. He walks in with an attitude. You can see it on his face and it’s contagious. I love that. One of the things I also love is when I find somebody that’s not got such a good attitude, whether they’re having a bad day or that’s the way they are. I love to bring them out of that shell. I love to get with them and start talking and tease a little bit here and there and find what their button is and get them to smile. I learned this one time back in Graceville. It takes less muscles to smile and it does to frown.
When you go back to your days as the commerce secretary, pretty unusual that a Republican would tap a Democrat for such an important job. What was the attitude around that decision? Did you hear, “Are you sure you’re going to go over?” I’m sure everybody liked you. It probably wasn’t as big of a deal but was there a sense that, “What the hell is going on? This is the craziest thing in the world.” How did it happen? Did you expect it? Was it thought of positively or negatively?
I had served on the board of the Indiana Economic Global Corporation, which we all know is the genius of President Mitch Daniels. Forming that, it to place Department of Commerce and make it a public, private partnership. It was an amazing, brilliant move on his part. Whether it’s Pat Miller or Mickey Mowler or Nate Feltman or Don Hauser, Mitch Robe or Victor Smith, everybody that’s served has done just an amazing job in that service.
When I was first asked to do it, the first thought that went through my head was, “I’ve never served public service,” and I probably should get back. May I remind you, I think you knew this, I committed eighteen months. I gave it to five and a half years, but I committed eighteen months for the remainder of then Governor Pence’s term and then of course, Governor Holcomb. You can’t say no to that guy. He is one of the greatest leaders of all time. I hope he has aspirations beyond being Governor of State of Indiana because he has some talent and heart to bring to the world. It could benefit us all in many years to come.
It was at call service, the number one. Secondly, I have a small influence, a sphere of influence. It’s tiny compared to say someone like yourself or even Governor Pence. I thought this sends a message even to that small sphere of people that it’s not about politics, Democrats and Republicans. I’m not very technologically capable. Being on this now about as good as it gets for me.
That was probably a benefit back then because Laura, my wife, was telling me, “There was some not so nice stuff said on the blocks.” I was a traitor, a Benedict Arnold and I was called a lot of things. That was okay. I was okay with that because the long and short of it is when somebody would ask me, I said, “We did set records 119,626 jobs under Governor Holcomb in his first term.”
I think about that and Glenn, all those jobs that we went after that we’re successful at getting, whether it be retaining a Lanco and putting them on the GM site, whether it be emphasis and bringing over a company from India, that’s the largest technology company in the world of 240,000 employees. Maybe it was Greenlee foods or Dao, keeping them here, all these things that happened, I never once saw a job that was labeled as a Democrat or Republican job. They were jobs.
Very similar to your experience as coach, you have your rivals. You may play at Chartres Cathedral, but at the end of the day, school colors, but you kneel down and you say a little prayer together for all your safety and health because you all are after the same thing. At the end of the day, that’s it. Sometimes, in the politics part of it gets too exaggerated. There are amazing people who affiliate themselves with the Democratic party and amazing people who affiliate themselves with the Republican party. I think about that a lot now post being secretary. To think, “Democrat, Republican, what am I? I’m a patriot.” It’s not about party. It’s about people.
With that said, before that job, you did something that most people don’t do. When you think about the population of America and how many people say, “I’ll step forward to run for the governor or for the governor of Indiana.” Talk about an attitude. I want to know what the attitude was when you agreed to do it or if you were forced into doing it because sometimes that happens. Whatever. I’d love to hear the story when you said, “God, dang it. I’m doing it.”
What’s the attitude of running for governor? What all does that entail? What lessons did you learn that people can relate to? Only because you ran for governor doesn’t mean that there are not a lot of strategies and answers for other people’s lives. Your whole experience with that and some of the great lessons you’ve learned.
Thank you for asking that. My general response when somebody brings up that time, I say, “That was back when I was off my medications, but I’m back on and I’ve got control of at all.” I had some people come to me. Some noted people in the state in leadership positions. I was a total novice. This is back in 2006 and I was a total novice to all of that. My head was down. My knowledge was drawing buildings and things, which I was very content with, by the way. I had some people come to me to say they didn’t think anybody was willing to step up.
Little did I know, what I know now, I didn’t know who Mitch Daniels was. I knew he was our governor. I knew he succeeded Joe Kern and who was a dear friend of mine. We had the same routes going to Holy Cross grade school, St. Joe High School in Norte Dame. I knew that, but I didn’t know all the ins and outs and what a great governor he was. His legacy has proven that. I was asked to do this, to basically carry the banner for the party.Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Your team is the deal. It's the magic word that gets things done. Click To Tweet
I agreed to do it after a lot of thoughtful prayers and things and talking to Laura and the boys. I went up and met with my extended family, my siblings, and again, it was all back to those two very simple things I pointed out why I agreed to be secretary. It’s a public service and I’ve never done that before. One of the regrets of my life, I say, “I go back, I wouldn’t do anything different and I wouldn’t.” One of the things I wish I had done is I wish I had served in the military. I wish I had worn the uniform and served our country.
My son is doing that now, as you know, my son that you coached, Captain Zach Schellinger, who’s out in California, Camp Pendelton. My father and his brothers served but we were in a time when we didn’t have recruiters come to school at our high school and the Vietnam War. I left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. Nobody was running the sign-up, but the people that put that on the line then we lost a great one, Byron Bill, who used to be the head of the Blood Bank. He served in Vietnam.
The people that did that sacrificed something that is unbelievable. In a humble way, I would say that Laura and I sacrificed a lot in running for office. This is a big state, a huge state and there are 92 counties. I was in every one of them at least 3 or 4 times. I was in Lake County 27, 20 times. The experience, as you mentioned, it never fails. You go there on your 28th time and someone says, “Wherever have you been? You never come up here.” I missed you the first 27 times I came. It’s blocking and tackling and getting down on the ground. Those that came to me that suggested I take on this challenge. I think my background was a little unique for it.
I didn’t grow up in a political environment. Honestly, I don’t know even know if my mom and dad were Republicans or Democrats. It wasn’t an issue in our household. I’m guessing with eight kids, they’re probably Democrats, but the point is, to me, it wasn’t about that. The sacrifice it took, which I applaud anybody that’s doing it and serving and I didn’t even serve. I ran to serve. It was a lot. Zachary, who I now say is a Captain in the Marine Corps, we missed his 8th-grade year, essentially. I was on the road every day, everywhere, but you also meet incredible people. You are inspired every day by the people you meet in this state. Phenomenal. We talk about who’s your hospitality. It’s not just a phrase.
I serve on the capital improvement board and I used to remember where I’d be outside and somebody said, “They write letters after they’d leave Indianapolis,” and said, “Our convention was the best it’s ever been.” They said, “I walked out of the hotel and I wanted to find St. Elmo’s.” I asked somebody and they said, “Come on. I’ll walk you over there,” and walk them eight blocks to St. Elmo’s. That’s the way we are as people in Indiana. That’s a humbling thing, but that’s who we are. I got to see up close and personal when I ran for governor.
When you think about those times and all the people you met, certainly there had to be somebody, maybe somebody who was very poor. Maybe it was somebody who was handicapped. Maybe somebody who was sick. It could have been a billionaire. When you think about carrying the light, is there a story about where you had met somebody that you didn’t expect to impact you as much as they did and who was that? What’s that story?
That is a long list. I remember a gentleman that came up to me one time and shook my hand and left a penny in it. He said, “I give you a penny for your thoughts. How can my life be better?” Those are humbling moments. The secretary and the governor experienced this. You drive around the State of Indiana and you go to a Starbucks or McDonald’s at 10:00 at night. You see kids in there that are working because they need access to WiFi. Statewide internet, I know it’s a priority to the governor. I know that people in both chambers and general assembly support it. It ought to be an all-out cry to get that done across the State of Indiana but to have that access to put everybody on a level playing field.
There were there inspirational people everywhere you went and you’d see people that serve on a real local level. This is the most sport thing they’re doing and what are they doing? They’re serving chicken at a Jefferson Jackson dinner or something. They’re involved. That’s what I tell young people. One time when I was asked by a group of young people when Indy Hub started. They said, “How did you get your networks out?” I laughed. I said, “Network? What the heck is a network? I guess I do have a network, but I don’t remember.” When I moved to Indianapolis in 1984, I didn’t know anybody. I came down here and I got involved.
I joined him at the heart of Mary and I started getting involved. That led to a lot of different things. I tell young people all the time, “Get involved and do something. Do something good for somebody.” I used to tell Johnny that every day. I’d say, “I go to school, work hard but have fun and do something good for somebody.” If you use that as a motto or the great Joe Bill, I’ll never forget your words. Every day, think about how does this get you closer to God in heaven. That stuck in my head ever since then.
That’s the deal. You meet these wonderful people that are giving up their lives. You meet somebody. You’re outside of a gate at an automobile plant at 4:00 in the morning when the shift changes in the cold weather and you see the working men and women of our state are doing every single day, in every single walk of life. It’s inspirational and you can’t help but when you do that to realize that if you can fulfill that, it’s fulfilling a calling.
I don’t know how somebody would get motivated to serve politically over wanting to be in the political realm or what they have that notoriety or that title. I would think you’d crash and burn instantly because you have to have a deep feeling in your very soul of why you want to serve other people. Otherwise, it isn’t going to happen.
Spirituality is such a huge thing. One thing you gave, I’d love to know your lesson in this. Jim coached my boys for the New York Yankees and Haverford Little League. He was very successful. You had a great run, lots of wins, lots of rings. What did coaching young kids and your kids in baseball give you? What attitude lesson did it teach you?
I never was going to do that. I said, “I will never be a coach,” because when my dad was a coach, I’d get into it because I disagreed with the lineup or something. I said, “No, don’t put this person there. They’re better than this person.” He’d say, “Jimmy, it’s not about wins and losses.” I say, “Dad, it’s all about wins and losses.” When I had to operate, I said, “I’ll coach.” They didn’t have a coach, as you know. They asked if I’d step up and do it. I said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” I had Nick, my oldest son, as an assistant and my son Johnny helped out. Zach was on the team.
I said, “I can’t go to Little League baseball four nights a week and on a weekend too. I don’t have time.” We did it and it was an amazing experience. It goes from A to Z. Your son, Anthony, was an amazing baseball player and so was Zach. Seeing those kids fulfill their potential is fun and interesting, but there was another young man that had never ever made contact with a baseball, ever. Most times, he wouldn’t swing the bat. I’d say, “You got to swing the bat. It’s okay to strike out. You to strike out every time you go up to the plate, but you got to swing the bat. You got to be a player.”
The first time I worked with this young man, his father would come to the game and how many of us know what that’s like? Our dad’s out there, ridiculing, yelling and screaming. I’d say to him, “Grant, your dad’s not out there. Your dad’s not ridiculing you. He’s not trying to tell you get a hit or do this or that. Do you know what your dad’s saying out there? He’s telling you he loves you. He’s telling you what he wants you to do to be successful because he wants to see you succeed.”
It used to drive him crazy. I said, “Keep in your mind that your dad’s yelling out he loves you.” Working with this young man to see the excitement when he hit a foul ball, it was incredible. He wanted to get three hits that year. To be able to see somebody with zero potential and many challenges to do something beyond their greatest expectations. To me, that’s beyond words. You can’t put that into words and you can’t buy it on eBay.
Swing the bat. Probably the title of your next book or your new book. What a great piece there, coach. That was awesome. I want to touch on entrepreneurialism. I want to touch on owning a business. I’m not sure if he started CSR or not. I think if I remember, you worked your way into becoming an owner there. I want to respect your time. I’d love to have a brief discussion on your thoughts on attitude of entrepreneurialship.
It’s for the people who own small businesses reading this episode. What was it like for you? What did you say to yourself when it was time for you to take the helm of CSO Architects? Why did you make the decision to do so much for so many, for so little because I know you did. I saw Masterplan CSO and I’m going, “Do they pay for this?” I don’t think many of them did. Give me your entrepreneurial thoughts.
That was one of the perks of being in a leadership position is being able to do some in-kind work for people and we did a lot of it. The common denominator is that they are alike. It’s all team. I never do anything by myself. People say, “Jim is the architect on the airport.” There was a bunch of us on that airport project. My stamps on it, but I didn’t do that by myself. It’s always about a greater group of people. Now, interestingly enough, in 1984, when I graduated, it was a recession. This should be something too. We put this under the title of perseverance.
In 1984, I sent my resumé out to ten firms in Indianapolis. Now prior to graduating, all of Santa Barbara, Boston, I thought of the glamorous places, but then I realized that my extended family was big with siblings and nieces and nephews. I didn’t want to leave Indiana. I sent my resumé to ten companies in Indianapolis. I got nine Dear John letters. One from didn’t respond to me, but nine firms did. Of those 9 firms, 7 said they would keep my resumé on file but they weren’t hiring.
The other 2 of the 9 said, “We will interview you, but we’re not hiring.” This was in August of 1984. On October 3rd, 1996, I became the President and CEO of the firm that did not respond to me. I did my internship at a small for Cole Associates here in town and through a friend, I got the opportunity to CSO, which was already well established. It was established in 1961. I got on board and did what I do.
I was a project manager and I worked on projects. I worked hard. I’ve told people and I had the privilege of speaking to the international school a couple of years ago. I said to these young people, “I’ve wanted to be here and do this so bad.” I said, “You are all smart. Some speak 2, 3, 4 languages. In about twenty minutes here, you’ll see that I’m not a very intelligent. I was waiting to see Benjamin.” I live over in Israel a couple of months prior to that.Go out and get involved. Do something good for somebody. Go to work or school, work hard, and have fun. Click To Tweet
His Chief of Staff said, “You even like the Prime Minister. He’s a smart guy and he’s funny. He’s got a 200 IQ.” I had to ask if that was good. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. I say I separate intelligence from smart because I think intelligence is a God-given thing in my little world, by my definition. Smart is something you work for. I always had to work 3 or 4 times harder than most people did to get that same grade. I never regretted that. It wasn’t a problem. It took a lot more and I use that. I did the same thing when I went to work at CSO. I came from being a steel grinder, for God’s sakes.
I thought I’d get to work early on the first day of 7:30 and I beat everybody in there, the place was full when I got there. At 6:30, I couldn’t wait for people to start going home so I could go home. We were all there because of the love and the work we did. I’d always tell the young architects, “It was important. It serves me in my life.” I’d always tell them, “Every time you get out of bed in the morning, be excited. Get pumped up and excited about who you are in what you do.”
Every day you get out of bed, you have the privilege and opportunity to alter the surface of God’s earth. That comes with tremendous responsibility, and you have to take pride in it but responsibility for it. Every day you get up and do that, you have an opportunity to improve people’s lives. Teachers become more successful with their students accomplishments. Our job was always to provide quality service and use our total design skills. It was always about me and seeing and improving the client’s success. It’s all about other people. That outward focus has served CSO well. It served me well and I take it to this day that they’re sustained on that philosophy.
That was another unbelievable nugget for our readers to take with them, how to wake up in the morning. We cover this, folks. We’ve had two seasons of the Good Attitude show. A lot of this is happening. This is being set in a different way and it’s so good. You talked about perseverance and attitude booster number eight is love adversity.
We all know that adversity is the mother of perseverance. There is no perseverance without adversity. You’ve had some adversity in your life. Tell me your secret to busting through adversity. How do you look at adversity? Was there a time in your life you want to share where you busted through some adversity and there was a lesson there?
I think my whole life has been about that. For this little chubby, fat kid on Keller Park neighborhood to come all the way I came. As a secretary, I got to speak on a panel discussion at Notre Dame with the Dean of the business school and the Dean of another college. I said, “I wish my mom was alive to see this. Little Jimmy from across the river has grown up.”
I had opportunities if my parents presented us with, our teachers and our coaches and friends. I always took advantage of it, but I did the right thing. I wish I had some rocket science advice to give. I knew it was like people saying, “Work smart.” It’s like the genius of the end by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in the book Built to Last. It’s genius in the end.
For me, you’ll have to help me here, Glenn. I don’t know if it’s a bumblebee or a goose. I bet there’s something a little that flies and they say, statistically, mathematically, it cannot fly, but it does. They said, “Nobody told it can.” As I look back on, as I’ve gotten older now, I say that, “I’m on a downward slope.” Laura said, “No, you’re not. Don’t say that. I’m not going to live to be 124.”
As I get to be older and learn from all these lessons I take, I realized the opportunity is you got to work hard ending our smart. You only get so much done on your own, your entire destiny within your heart, soul, and mind. You will only be fulfilled if you maximize every aspect of it.
It’s not about working smart, but it is about working smart. It’s about working hard. You got to do it all. In the end of the day, if you focus and one of the things I felt like it see us. We had a family. It wasn’t a business. It was a family. We watched out for each other and everybody in that firm knew that we cared more about each other than we cared about our own needs.
Again, that’s not something you can fake. When I was a paper boy as a young man, my brother handed it down to me. He said, “When a dog starts to chase, you look at it real firm. Don’t look scared because it’ll come at you. It can sense if you’re scared.” There’s a lot of truth to that. When you’re a leader, you can’t fake it. You can give speeches and you can give pep talks. You can do everything you want, but the people you have the privilege of serving and leading know. They have an instinct and they know. It’s only when you deeply care about the people around you and their success that you have any chance of reaching your own potential.
This has been just so good, Jim and thank you. I think the answer Gappers, what I heard Jim say is I never focused on adversity. I was oblivious to adversity. I woke up and had the right attitude and adversity wasn’t even part of your game. It wasn’t an excuse. It was a nonfactor. For those of you who are reading now, whatever you think you have as adversity. It’s time to get the attitude and flip the switch. Maybe it’s time to say there is no such thing as adversity. Only opportunity that presents itself as adversity. That’s what Jim was saying. Certainly, the energy, the karma, the vitality of others pushes you through any adversity that may be there.
We’re going to go ahead and wrap up the show with this thing called knowledge through the decades. I’m sure this is going to be good and fun. What we want to do is know the attitude lesson as we walk through your life. This is spontaneous. We’re going to ask you the attitude lesson that you’ve learned growing through your life. I know that you probably don’t remember being born but when you think about new birth when you think about the grandchildren that were born to the one that’s getting ready to happen, what’s the attitude lesson of being born?
Again, the blessing that I got was from my parents. Even though we are eight kids, they made each of us feel special. It made us feel important. I remember on my 10th birthday, my mom came out and she gave me a little windbreaker jacket. She said to me, “You’ve lived a decade.” I wasn’t really sure what all that meant. I learned many of the lessons I still use to this day when I was four or five years old. I told you, we lived in this tiny house. When I was five years old, we moved to the house closer to our school.
It was two stories, so it had a bath and a half, still three bedrooms for bigger dining room kitchen and a year after we lived there, my sister, we came home. My dad said, “Maybe I go down the old house and paint because the renters are moving in.” My sister, Mary Claire, said, “We can move back.” Glenn, we moved back to that house. That tiny little house. We lived there until I was a junior in high school. I think that was a real lesson. It’s not about the place. It’s about the people.
I love it. You already went to ten, not about the place. It’s about the people. That’s a real good one. I want you to go back to being ten, even though you gave us a little windbreaker story. You’d been 4th or 5th grade. Think about your friends, school or your family. What was an attitude lesson that you learned at ten?
You’ll love it. I’m sitting here smiling because it popped into my head. I talk about my mother, God rest her soul. My father, Boyd, was an incredible man, too and as are my siblings. I think it was right about ten because I was in 4th grade. I remember my mom that was with her. She went to church in the confessional.
She walked out and she said, “Do you want to make your confession?” I said, “I’m not supposed to. I don’t make that until 6th grade.” She said, “Father Tom will do it.” He came out of confession. He said, “Sure, come on in.” I sat down and he walked me through it. I did my first confession and I walked out and my mom said, “Did you get your pants?” I said yes and she said, “Come with me.”
At our church, beautiful Catholic church itself, then a Holy Cross. Still a beautiful church. Romanesque design. It’s one of my favorite architectural pieces I’ve ever seen in my life. There’s a huge crucifix, but over the side, there’s a Mary statue, then there’s a Joseph statute. She walks me over and she kneels down. She says, “Kneel down.” I said, “Okay.” She said, “When you have something, you say three Hail Mary to the blessed mother.” I’m sitting here as a little ten-year-old thinking, “Why don’t we go to the big guy? He’s 25 feet to the left here and we’re right there.” She goes, “Always pray to Mary because a son can never deny a mother’s request.”
Let’s move to twenty. Twenty years old, you’ve graduated from South Bend, St. Joseph. You find yourself at Notre Dame. Do you remember your 20th birthday? Do you remember being twenty 20 at Notre Dame? What was the attitude lesson you learned there at twenty?
I broke my wrist on my 20th birthday at the tomb I shop. I turned twenty, you want to do something fun but I wouldn’t pass up making the money and missing the night work. I remember going to work and I was moving a piece of steel. I should have used the hoist, but I didn’t. I tried to move it by hand and it’s all over. It broke my wrist. That was how I celebrated my 20th birthday. I think that my high school years were extremely formative for me.
Being in high school, I went to being involved in things I was involved with and that’s where I came into my own. I had already had some pretty good luck with athletics, so that carried on, but then I worked hard in school. I was able to get good grades, which was a little bit different than some of my other friends that weren’t as lucky as I was. Those years in high school were extremely formative for me.Intelligence is a God-given thing while being smart is something you work for. Click To Tweet
Coming into your own that you felt like that happened to you at twenty became the base of who you were. Now let’s take you up ten years at 30 years old. Do you remember where you were? Were you working on your birthday at 30? When you think about being 30, what was your attitude lesson in that decade?
I apologize. I don’t want to go backwards here, but I turned thirteen and broke my ankle playing volleyball. I don’t always break bones. I have a pager, but I broke my ankle on that day when I turned thirteen. I turned 13 on Friday the 13th in 1973.
Also broke your ankle. That’s appropriate.
When I was 30, I guess it came to that point. I’ve got children now and there’s a whole different perspective on life. When I was 30 with my kids, I realized that here, I spent my whole life in Catholic grade school, Catholic high school and Catholic college in my whole life. Our goal is always to stay true to the gospel of Jesus Christ and have been to be Chris-like.
In my 30s was when I realized that having children is the most Christ-like you’ll ever be able to be in your life because if you don’t take care of that baby, it dies. Everything about that baby relies on you. It was in my thirties where I probably developed my sense of responsibility. I’m realizing what an incredible gift that was to have children and to now focus on their wellbeing.
Now, you slide into 40. Tell me about the attitude lesson at 40 or in your 40s. What was going on with your life then?
When you get to that age of 40, you start realizing your mortality. In my family, I lost a brother that was 43 years old that died of a massive heart attack. I lost another brother at 53 that died of cancer. I lost the brother-in-law, that died of brain cancer. He was 52 and I lost the 26-year-old sister-in-law that died from the glioblastoma thing. Life in the 40s, I’d define that as becoming fast when I realize how precious life is. When you have to experience that sadness and pain that comes from losing a loved one. That defines my 40s for me. I had so many people come. They knew my brother had passed away. The worst 72 hours of my life.
I had to go get them out in Seattle because he died suddenly at the airport coming home for Christmas and his eleven-year-old son was with his life. People would ask me, “How did you ever get over him dying?” I said, “You don’t get over that.” They’d asked me, “Glenn, is it shaken your faith in God?” I said, “No, it strengthened it,” because I want to see them again someday and how’s that going to happen? It’s going to happen by being good and go to heaven and have eternal salvation.
I think that in my 40s was when that mortality came, the realization came for that and understanding what that meant and what I wanted to do given that I could see that life goes on. When you hit 40, then you realize that 23 years prior to that, you graduated from high school and that seems like it went by in a flash. You realize that when that next 40 or next 20 is happening, you are not going to be here.
At 50, things started getting interesting for you. I’m sure. As for many people, life can take a turn. The idea and the wrestling with mortality can propel you into new thoughts and new things. Maybe this is when you started taking off on the service end. When you think about turning 50, do you remember turning 50? What do you think the attitude lesson is through your 50?
I do remember 50 and the reason I remember that, as you know, my brothers and I, all wore number 50, 16, 17, 18 years in a row. Fifty has always been a family favorite of the boys. I don’t remember the day. I don’t remember the exact time or the year, whether it was 49 or 51, but that’s when I got in a position where I was pretty much in control of my destiny. I was in control of a lot of other people’s too or had an impact. I shouldn’t say control. I had a potential impact as a leader. When I got into my 50s, I realized that I was in a situation very fortunate to where I could get back. I could give to things. I could donate time architecturally. I could donate things to people. I could become a player because I had the resources.
In some ways, I had more time than I did when I was earlier trying to fight off the waves. An experience I had in my 50s, which doesn’t seem very long ago, but I went out to a game. Notre Dame was playing the Washington Husky. My family and I, maybe 15, 16 of us. You can imagine going to a football game and we’re down in this alley in Downtown Seattle at an Irish pub. As we were going into the pub, I saw a guy that was homeless in a little alcove of a back of a building in an alley. I couldn’t get my mind off of him the whole time I was in the restaurant.
I kept thinking, “I should get him something to eat. I should get some fries, give him some money.” I tucked a $20 bill in my palm and I started to slip this to him. When I come out, I don’t draw attention to it. We came out and he was gone. I felt bad and walked into the alley and I heard cats and say, “Come on, everybody. We got to go.” I see him back in the alley. I turned to Laura and I said, “Here, take this and run back there and give it to that guy.” She said, “Why? Do it.”
She runs back and does it then she comes back and their dad says, “What are you doing it?” She said, “Jim wanted me to take $20 and give it to this guy.” He looked at me and he said, “Why would you do that?” Now without thinking, without being able to premeditate my thought, I said, “It could be Jesus.” I think that’s carried me a long time since then of understanding that we talk about adversity everywhere we go. I have no adversity compared to what some people have.
Isn’t that true? I think Jesus tells us whatsoever you do for the least of my brother is what you do unto me in fact, was Jesus. Now, you’re in your 60s. I want to know what you’re thinking about 60 and as you sat there and blew out the candles at 60? What’s the word? What’s the attitude that you’re taking into 60?
When you get to that age, they don’t put individual candles on the cake anymore. They put the number. It’s interesting when I turned 60, if you feel like you’re getting up there and I’d been all over the world at that time. I’ve gotten to meet incredible people from every walk of life that I had no right to me. It was a privilege to meet all these people and to be doing what I was doing. For the 60s, for me, again, it’s all about family. It’s about the grandkids. It’s now more about I’ve done some of the major things I’ve wanted to do in my life. Now I want to try to help other people accomplish what they want to do in life.
At Butler University, the president asked me to do was to help Butler become even more top of mind nationally and internationally than it already is. That’s something I’ve taken on and they’re proud to do that because I believe in Butler university. When you believe in something, as you know, it’s a lot easier to deal with it than not deal with it. I think real estate. When I turned 60, I started thinking about real estate. The reason why is because of knowing your business. I was out of the country and my wife sold our house.
In fact, somebody I know here helped her and it wasn’t for sale. That’s the catch. She sold them. I was out of the country and she called me. She said, “I sold the house.” Now we talked about selling it because we wanted to downsize a little bit. We’re empty nesters, but she took me off guard and she said, “I sold the house.” I said, “You better go find one and buy one.”
This time, I bought that house, as you know, to renovate it and fixed up. I said, “This time, buy a house you like.” She did and we moved in here a few years ago, thanks to you. My attention right away turned to real estate again. Somebody says, “You just move.” I said, “Not that real estate. We’re talking in Crown Hill real estate.” On a serious, I’ve had to go into five family members. The one that passed away had zero preparation. When you’re in that moment of grief and you have to deal with that. I don’t want to put anybody through that. At 60, I feel like I’m 25.
It’s a new 40, 60.
It’s crazy. Sometimes when I see a picture of myself, I say, “Who is that? That looks like my dad or my uncles or something.” You don’t feel you look necessarily.
They all tell you, “You look like your father.” I’m like, “I must be getting old here.” Jim, that was so good. The ladder of Jim’s life. As we walked through this, I want all the people reading this, all the Gappers to check themselves on 1 to 10. He said childbirth and new beginnings are a blessing. I ask myself, “How blessed do you feel?” If you don’t feel blessed, what can you do to feel more blessed? He talks about ten and the respect and the aura of a mother. What a great story you did. If you’re having a conflict with your mother, those out there, now’s the time to fix it.
At twenty, he became independent. How independent are you in your life? Are you relying on too many other people? Are you letting other people’s thoughts limit your success? Do you finally believe in yourself and know that you have the fortitude to do it? At 30, you talked about the massive responsibility that he felt when he had kids. Do you take an inventory of your responsibility? How responsible do you feel and are you responsible to win? Is what I like.
There are people I believe use responsibility to lose, to make excuses, and those people take responsibility and move forward. At 40, the mortality of things. Gappers, have you questioned your mortality and thought about those around you who may have gone before you and maybe those on the edge now and what are you doing for them? In the 50s, the word impact came through. No matter if you’re 50 or for your 20 or if you’re 30 reading to this or if you’re 80. Your ability to impact is an attitude.
Creating an impact is an attitude. I hope that you take that with you after this interview. Preparation and service at 60 was his final two things. Do you have a heart of service? Who are you serving? When people look at him by giving value. Value is defined as what you do for someone on behalf of someone before you ask them to do anything for you. That’s the foundation and attitude of service and preparation.
Jim, those were awesome. Your interview is fantastic. We always like to give you one last word in the show. Whether you’re standing in front of a baseball team or a football team or your company at CSO, there are people reading that came here to bridge the gap from who they are to who they want to become. They’re bridging the gap from where they are to where they want to be. I’m hoping that you can give them a few words from your heart and your soul if somebody’s standing there at that bridge trying to get across it. What’s your best advice? What’s your hope for them and the hope for the future of our readers?
You’re going to be the definition I learned, the literary definition of romantic is somebody that longs for the past and looks forward to the future and doesn’t do so well living in the present, which is something I have to work on every day. When you do stuff and we go out and do it for other people, you realize how fun it is. What you get from that is it’s energizing. We talk about attitude.
If you have an issue with your attitude on a given day, go do something nice for somebody and see how that changes your attitude. That’s because it’s fun. My father-in-law, I don’t know. I’m guessing this isn’t an original but we’ll give him credit out Seattle, Washington for this. His definition of fun is anything you don’t have to do. I think that’s something that we don’t have to help everybody around us, but it’s fun.
Jim, I want to thank you for carrying the light through your life, to your family, to your company, to our State of Indiana, but most of all, we want to thank you for carrying the light on the Get Attitude show. I’m with Jim Schellinger, signing off. Jim, thanks so much.
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About Jim Schellinger
Jim Schellinger began his career at CSO Architects in 1987. He was promoted to president and chief executive officer of the architectural firm in 1996. Under his leadership, the firm managed a number of large-scale projects in Indiana including Indianapolis International Airport, the Indiana Historical Society Museum and the Indiana State Government Center North.
In addition to his work in the private sector, Schellinger has been involved in Indiana politics. In 2008, Schellinger campaigned for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Indiana. He lost the nomination to Jill Long Thompson. Schellinger has donated more than $930,000 to Democratic causes through private, family and campaign contributions. As chairman of the Indiana Democrat Victory Committee, Schellinger helped contribute more than $1.14 million to Democratic campaigns and committees.
In August 2015, Republican Governor of Indiana Mike Pence reached across the political aisle and appointed Schlessinger president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). Schlessinger will take a leave of absence from his role at CSO architects during his tenure at the IEDC