‘Best day of your life’
Jeremy Glenn insists he was not responsible for the Guthrie Center Class of 1990 selecting Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild” as their Class Song.
It’s why he opened his commencement speech at Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center high school Sunday afternoon blaring American Author’s “Best day of your life.”
“Today is a great day for you, it’s a great day for family and friends who have supported you and brought you to this day,” Glenn said as he introduced himself to the Class of 2017. “But I’m here to tell you that I hope this is not the best day of your life, it’s still to come.”
For the past 20 years, Glenn, a 1990 graduate of Guthrie Center high school, has worked as a lawyer in Chicago, representing Fortune 500 companies in all facets of labor and employment law. The son of Doc and Sherry Glenn, he returned to his beginnings to share some things that helped him get to where he is today with high school graduates in Guthrie Center Sunday afternoon.
Glenn, who was valedictorian of his high school class, received his Law degree from the University of Iowa and his BSBA from Drake University, encouraged the graduates to embrace change.
“You can’t stop it. You can prepare for it, embrace it and overcome it,” he said.
Glenn says he reminded daily he doesn’t know everything. Afterall, he’s raising three daughters, including 14-year-old twins.
“They reassure me that I don’t know anything, I don’t know about fashion or relationships or popular music,” he said. “So take things with a grain of salt, but by the grace of God and with a little bit of luck, I stand before you very proud of how things turned out the last 45 years.”
His said his goal for the day was to be concise, speaking no longer than 15 minutes, for two reasons.
“First, I’ll never forget as a young band student at Guthrie Center what Dale Menning taught us about keeping the tempo nice and brisk so the bad notes don’t last as long,” he joked.
Secondly, he said he charges his clients $485 an hour for advice.
“They don’t want a lot of hot air,” he grinned.
In two decades of working as a lawyer, Glenn said he can count on one hand the number of days he hasn’t been terrified. Change can be scary, he said.
“I’ve learned to replace terror by it’s second cousin, anxiety, and embrace that and use it as a tool to prepare for the change,” he said.
He shared an example of change in his life recently. A year and a half ago, his five-member family decided to downsize from their single-family home to a 500 square-foot apartment.
“We wanted to save money so we could remodel a house,” he said. “It’s a crazy thing when you go from a house to a two-bedroom apartment with three daughters and a wife.”
What they found was comfort in growing closer as a family.
“That change was chosen, but what we learned through the process was incredibly valuable,” he said. “Your attitude will determine how you handle the change.”
Practice and preparing for change is helpful, Glenn said.
“Some of you are athletes, running in the state track meet next week. Others are musicians who have reached the highest ranking in the state. Others students, and I know every single one of you is a family member,” he said. “You all plan and prepare for things in your life.”
He encouraged the graduates to surround themselves with people who are invested in their success and who will support their success.
“Know yourself, and who can support you,” he said. He told the graduates to break out of their comfort zone, something he had to do when he left the high school gym in Guthrie Center 27 years ago. It did not start well.
Within months of living in Chicago I was robbed at gun point, I was mugged physically, my apartment was broken into and my car vandalized,” he said. “That’s a pretty crappy way to start your life in the city.”
So, he volunteered at a homeless shelter - Olive Branch Mission in Englewood, one of the highest crime areas in the country. They serve the homeless, those in addiction recovery and those in domestic abuse situations.
Today, Glenn serves has chairman of the Olive Branch Mission board. This year they will raise more than $3 million to support women and children who are free of domestic violence and dealing with drug and alcohol addiction.
Glenn said had he not gotten out of his comfort zone, the windy city would have defeated him.
Welcome change, he said.
“Up to now, life has been happening to you on a progressive scale,” he said. “You have moved from elementary to middle school to high school and you arrived today to this momentous moment because that’s how it’s been planned out. From this point forward though, you make the changes. You determine the changes.”
He encouraged the graduates to start everyday with a positive playlist.
“You will never look back with regret and you will stand as I am 27 years later on this very stage and be proud of the accomplishments you have received,” he said.