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Press Release



August 18, 2005

Speaker shares secrets to success with Cowley orientation students


James Malinchak pulled a crumpled $10 bill from his pocket and waved it at 400 Cowley College freshmen.

“Who wants this free ten-dollar bill?” he shouted.

Hands sprang into the air all over the Robert Brown Theatre.

As Malinchak circled through the audience, he asked the question again, only this time he said, “Who really wants this free ten-dollar bill?”

Some students got out of their seats with excitement. Still others shouted.

Then, as Malinchak made his way to the theatre’s stage, he shouted the same question one more time. This time, a male student leapt from his seat and ran to Malinchak to get his prize.

The exercise during Cowley’s New Student Orientation Wednesday morning demonstrated Malinchak’s point: Goals and dreams don’t come to you; you’ve got to go get them.

Malinchak, a motivational speaker who is a contributing author and associate editor of several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, kept the audience’s attention for the full hour.

“I’m going to make two promises to you this morning,” he said. “One, I will not bore you. And two, I will share with you seven secrets that I guarantee will help you be successful in and out of school.”

With that, the former basketball player at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Hawaii shared personal stories and anecdotes that have not only inspired him, but also helped make him the success he is today.



The first two or three secrets, Malinchak said, “build a foundation” for life.

  1. You have to be ready and expect to succeed. You don’t get what you want in life, you get what you expect.
  2. The attitude you choose will determine how you see life. How you choose to see yourself is how you’ll see other people. Our attitude is a choice, he said. It’s not what happens to you, it’s what happens in you. Focus on what you can do, Malinchak said. He told the story of a one-legged teen-age boy named Roger who had short, stubby arms and who wanted nothing more than to make the high school football team. Once he made the team, his goal became to play in a game. After accomplishing that, his goal became to score a touchdown. And he did. “If you’re an average person who chooses to have a negative attitude about yourself, you’re halfway to the bottom,” Malinchak said. “But if you have a positive attitude, you’re halfway to the top.”
  3. Get professors on your side. They can be one of your biggest supporters, he said. But, he added, “It all starts with you.” Do the best you can, as that is all anyone can ask of you.
  4. You have to get a strong red-hot “why.” Why did you decide to come to college? Why are you here? “You create a purpose within yourself” when you ask why, he said.
  5. Don’t ever forget how important your family and friends are. Malinchak told the story about his sister Vicky, who called him one day while he was in college. She was calling from a hospital, where doctors had discovered a brain tumor. “Doctors say I’m going to die in three months,” Vicky told her brother on the telephone. “I was stunned,” Malinchak said. “Here I was, this big college student with no care in the world. You never know. You could wake up one day and they’re gone.” Vicky died 3 ½ months later.
  6. Invest $1.97 for an address book. “The names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mails you put in there will help you in the future,” he said. “You’ll have more opportunities the more people you know. Build quality relationships.”
  7. You have to start thinking about interning through career services. “Get a 15- or 20-minute closed-door session with them,” he said. “It doesn’t matter that you know who they are. It matters that they know you and your career goals.” Malinchak said nobody inherits his or her career. “Don’t choose a career path to please someone else,” he said. “I was so miserable at my job that I called in sick on my day off.” He said it was important to get internships “to find out what you don’t want to do. Do what you enjoy doing.”