After giving a small guest lecture on business and philanthropy, the administration at St. Louis University convinced alumnus John Cook to structure a University-wide speech in which all students and faculty could take part and learn. This Sept 12th endeavor was held at the Anheuser-Busch Auditorium and began at 7 p.m.
Motivated in part by his desire to give back to his fraternity Delta Sigma Pi at S.L.U., Cook based the primary foundation of his speech on how he was able to build his professional career through honesty, integrity, compassion, and hard work. He proceeded to advise fellow S.L.U. students to pay attention to opportunities for community service in both the corporate and private sectors.
While a devoted student at Saint Louis University, John Cook also worked full time for a local department-store called Stix, Baer & Fuller. While in their employment he discovered that a fellow employee had been stealing close to a thousand dollars from the company each day over the course of several years. When asked about this experience, he replied, ” as the story goes, in my sophomore year … I was working at a St. Louis department store, and I got curious on something. [I] ultimately discovered the greatest fraud in the company’s history.”
Cook then chose to expose the scandal to his superiors, which inevitably led to his promotion to internal auditor within the company. As a result, in 1991 Cook founded his own successful company called The Profit Recovery Group, that thrived on helping companies find and regulate theft or inaccuracies within the financial aspects of the business.
Cook continued on with his humanitarian efforts by devoting a great deal of time to helping needy children in Nepal. After finding inspiration from a Catholic priest helping people in Thailand, John Cook has since built several buildings to house schools and medical facilities for families in foreign nations. In response to this effort, Delta Sigma Pi President Nicole Puhl stated “I was really impressed by the fact that 35,000 children in Nepal have gone through his literary schools and that he has affected that many people. I think that [Cook’s] service upholds the Jesuit ideals.”
The focus of the speech however did not end with Cook’s good works. The point of his presentation culminated in the final half of his lecture. He began to discuss the charitable and humanitarian possibilities ahead for students at Saint Louis University. He primarily discussed the impact that a caring attitude can have on business and on coworkers. He stated that empathy is a key point to building a successful leader that can understand and have compassion for his subordinates, while learning to manage important tasks and successfully direct individuals as well. One proclamation rang true above all others when he said, “You start realizing how fortunate you are and how much you have. “When you start thinking this way, you’ll find that the rest of the world wants to follow you and wants you to be successful.”
After his speech, Cook continued to answer questions, and shared his personal passions for volunteer work, and his goals for charity work. As the evening finally came to a close, students rose from their seats to give a standing ovation to this unique man who had over the course of the previous two hours become a professional and compassionate mentor.