Sunday, November 6, 2011


1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck: the serendipity of getting the first job she applied for.

I try to walk our dog Bella in the park every day.  It’s good for her and it is good for me too. We are lucky to have several large parks where we live, where you can take dogs off the leash, and let ‘em run.

Yesterday, we went to the “boat launch” park which I believe to be her favorite, as Bella is a water dog.  Just a few minutes after we arrived, Bella spotted a black lab named “Cooper”. This is where it gets dicey; sometimes all goes well and everyone is friendly. And sometimes the Doggie D├ętente goes bad. 

Bella and Cooper bonded quickly, as did the couple and I.  We started walking together, chatting about everything from dogs to the weather. After around 30 minutes of walking and talking, we came to the point in the path where Bella and I usually peel off and Bella and I normally head off into the woods.  I took out a business card to give them, thinking that if they ever wanted to let Bella and Cooper have a play date, they should give me a call. But, as a consummate salesman, I never miss an opportunity to exchange business cards, just on general principles.

“Thomas Capone?  Hey…. are you the Tom Capone speaking at Quinnipiac University this month?”

Whaaaaaaattttt???  I know what a heart attack feels like, and this was just an anxiety attack. 

It turns out that this couple (specifically this gentleman) graduated from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut in ‘82.  He now works for Quinnipiac University as the Regional Development Officer. The couple lives in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. Both of my sons graduated from Mountain Lakes High School (which is around a two hour drive from QU).  This is the same University in Connecticut where my son Tom Jr. goes to school, and where I will be presenting to the students of the Quinnipiac School of Business this month.

Well – we then spent ANOTHER hour walking and talking.  We talked about kids in college today, about getting jobs, the global economy, helping students with job placements, the recent passing of Steven Jobs, and everything in-between.  I have made a successful sales and business career out of “meeting people” and turning such chance and innocent encounters into deep, profitable and rewarding long-term relationships. 

Cooper may not be aware of this just yet, but he will be seeing a lot of Bella in the future.  

When I got home I told my wife the story, and then we called my son at Quinnipiac (he was at the QU hockey game but he could still hear me). One does not need a master's degree in statistics to see that this is all pretty freaky.  What if Bella and I went to a different park yesterday?  What if we simply went to that same park - but at a different time of day?  What if the dogs were not friendly?  Think about it – had Bella walked just a little faster, or a little slower, we would have never met Cooper or his “parents”.

And - what if I never took out my business card?

When I speak to students at colleges and universities about jobs and careers, I stress the fact that you must “make your own luck” in this world. I received an email from Cooper’s “Dad” yesterday.  I showed him everything that I am doing with Rutgers University, and what I hope to do with Quinnipiac.  He said in response to my emails: 

The simple fact is a college diploma today is a starting point not an end point.  The more we expose/train students to understand the broad range of possibilities only increases their opportunity to reach a high quality end point.” 

I like this guy – he sounds like me!

When I speak to students at various colleges and universities about jobs and careers, I will be adding another important item to my list - I also think that you should get a dog, preferably a lab.

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