Skips to main content

Lew Cramer

Education Opens up Global Opportunities

It’s an honor to be here with President Richards. Most men would be very brave to invite their bishops to come speak, because I have about 40 minutes of stories of the Richardses that I’d love to share. But his wife’s here, and that’s a real treat for us as well, to have Sister Richards’ wonderful spirit.
President Richards has a special car that’s parked about three spaces down from me. It says “LDSBC” on it, and it’s not there very often. He’s usually here working hard for you, so I want you to know the great love that he shares with us for you. Congratulations on that. But if you do ever have concerns about him, just give me a call. I’m his bishop and I know where to find him.
Education is one of the very best investments you can ever make. It is clearly one of the best investments we in the older generation are making in you. You know, we’ve been hearing a lot lately about “you didn’t build this,” “yes, I built this.” Well, we didn’t necessarily build this building, and you didn’t necessarily build it, but you are building the future of the LDS Business College, and we’re very proud of you for doing that.
At the entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is a beautiful statue of a falcon—the Fighting Falcon of the U.S. Air Force Academy, a mascot. It says, “Man’s flight through life is powered by the strength of his knowledge.” Man’s and woman’s flight through life is powered by the strength of their knowledge. And that’s critical. Your education is the jet fuel for you succeeding in this world, in this Church, in this Kingdom, and in your family.
Alexandre Dumas, the famous French author, said one time, “The future of any country depends what is in the minds of their 19- to 25-year-olds at any given time.” I’m pleased to report that, from what I’ve observed, there are really good things in the minds of the 19- to 25-year-olds in this room. So congratulations as you continue that commitment and investment in education. You can foreclose on a mortgage, but you cannot foreclose on your education. You cannot foreclose on an investment that you have made in your mind. So keep making that investment.
My scriptural theme today is one that we know and think about a lot that pertains to the Church. As Joseph Smith received this from the Lord, it pertains to us in our own lives. Doctrine and Covenants 64:33: “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” In this wonderful scripture, the Lord is speaking to the Church generally, but let us apply this today to your hard work in getting an education at LDS Business College, and laying that great foundation.
One of the great works you are personally laying is the foundation for your future. Every step, every class, every new insight, every late-night homework session is a small thing that is an important part of that foundation you are building for your career, for your family, for the kingdom of God, every single day. And life is a climb. We know that. You are facing it every day with your job on top of school, on top of a family, or trying to meet that special one so you have a family. I understand there are quite a few single adults still in this congregation. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.
As Stacy mentioned, you are four weeks into the semester, and it’s early October. Midterms are looming, believe it or not. It’s getting a little bit cooler. Conference is arriving. You are settling into various challenges. Face it, it’s four weeks into the semester and the excitement is wearing off a little bit. That reading list is looking pretty daunting, and the homework is piling up. College should stretch you. It should be hard. But please do not weary in your well-doing—not today, not tomorrow, not this semester. Keep laying that foundation of a great work, every single day.
Today’s devotional is a chance for me to share some perspectives and advice from one who must appear to you as an Ancient of Days. I saw the sign out front about 125 years of achievement. Believe it or not, I was not present at that founding class 125 years ago, although I was present at the founding class of BYU Law School 40 years ago, and those kind of traditions and connections and experiences will make a difference to you as you meet and greet and grow closer to your classmates while you attend LDS Business College.
I’d like to give you a little advice, and it’s not even graduation day. But every day is judgment day, and we have to make the right kind of judgments as we go forward. Our six children are all out of college now, and not likely to listen to my advice right now about schooling. But I just love this opportunity to share some advice with some young men and women of college age. So allow me to do that.
Before I became a bishop, I spent most of the last decade serving in Young Single Adult wards here and in Washington, D.C. And I think I understand a bit about the concerns and the anxiety and happiness and plans you’re experiencing as you lay your own foundation for the great work of your life. And this foundation will prepare you to be great Relief Society presidents, bishops, fathers, mothers, home and visiting teachers, and serving your family, community, school, country, and the Lord’s kingdom.
There’s another reminder that I need to make about this investment you are making in the future—choosing the right mate. I said that education is one of the best investments you can make. I spent last week in Russia, and it’s two o’clock in the morning in Russia, and there aren’t many great talks given at two o’clock in the morning, with jet lag. But the very best investment that I ever made was the engagement ring I bought to ask my wonderful wife to marry me, a few blocks away at Temple Square. She is here on the stand today, and I get all emotional about that because most of my talks that I give around the world, she doesn’t get to hear. I usually don’t talk about her when I’m in Russia or other places. But Barbara’s been a wonderful support in everything that we do, and Barbara’s recently updating our family history records. And she was reviewing some of the things we were doing. We’re now in our fortieth year of marriage. I said, “Sweetheart, it’s been a wonderful 40 years.”
And she looked at me and said, “You’re in international business. I’ve been looking at your travel logs. It’s been a wonderful 30 years of marriage together.” So that’s the challenge that we have sometimes, if we get involved in international activities. And that’s day in and day out, I usually talk about international trade, business, and education. And since almost half the title of LDS Business College is about business, I’d like to talk a little bit about that and how that may impact your future career going forward.
Brother Nelson suggested about 17 percent of the students at LDS Business College are international. I would be willing to be that the number is more like 100 percent. Given the missionary experiences, given the second language skills, given the travel, given the other things that you’ve done, and given the fact that your generation knows that we need to prepare for a global and competitive world, I would say that there are probably 100 percent international students in this congregation.
In the world that we live in today, 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside of the United States. The tsunami of globalization that’s sweeping the planet is not going to somehow bypass Salt Lake City. Utah, interestingly enough—if I were to ask you this, this very bright group—the A for today, which is the only state in America to double its exports in the last five years—its international exports to the world—would you guess a small, square state in the Rocky Mountains without a seaport? Utah leads the nation in international export growth, and there are many reasons for that. One of them is because of the talent that we have in congregations in this state, like this that is attending this school. We have more speakers of dual languages per capita in America, in Utah, than in any other state.
Export growth is critical, because last year in this state—again, a small state without a seaport—Utah exported over 19 billion dollars of merchandise exports to the world. International exports create international jobs. Utah exports are creating Utah jobs. Somewhere in that 19 billion dollars’ worth of exports, there is a job for you when you leave LDS Business College. And the reason why we push exports is because exports create jobs. Anybody can import. If you can speak English and write a check in dollars, somebody will sell you a product. You just go down to Wal-Mart and figure that out. We have a trade deficit in this country, and we know how to import. But what we don’t do well enough, and what we are pushing hard for the students at LDS Business College and BYU and others to learn, is creating services and products of value that somebody overseas wants to buy, in a language other than English and a currency other than dollars.
And so I’m urging you, as part of your education, to focus on those global opportunities that are out there. Goldman Sachs recently put out a study saying that in the next decade, 60 percent of the economic growth on this planet will be outside of North America, Japan, and Europe. It’s in the emerging markets. And I know many of you have come from those emerging markets, have had experience in those emerging markets, and want to lay a foundation so you can compete in those markets going forward.
Interestingly enough, one-third of all the Mandarin immersion classes taught, the dual-immersion classes, taught in America, are taught in Utah. Last year, we had four provincial governors visit us, representing about 180 million Chinese—they are like state governors. They had an event up at the Capitol where first- and second-graders from the Granite school district sang in Mandarin, who were graduates of this program, participating in this program, and it just brought them to tears. They had the mayors of the three largest cities in Utah speak to them. Mayor Becker did a really good job in English, but the next two mayors both had served missions in Taiwan and spoke fluent Mandarin—Mayor Curtis from Provo, and Mayor Winder from West Valley City. The Chinese governor sitting next to me said, “Does everybody in Utah speak Mandarin?”
I said, “Pretty much. Come on back.”
So we don’t call China the Far East; we call it the Near West in this state. And Governor Huntsman is a fluent Mandarin speaker, and Governor Herbert [is] an international trade warrior who is planning now a trade mission to Israel in December. He just came back from a trade mission in Canada; there was a trade mission to China last year. We are seeing the advantage of this going forward.
Interestingly enough, some of the things that you would think people around the world think about Utah are not always what is the top of their minds. We’re working hard at getting the Utah concept and brand and image out there, and we think it’s the Olympics and the snow and the five National Parks and what’s happening in Zion and Bryce. Interestingly enough, most people in this world know Utah by the Utah Jazz, so right across the street you are next to one of the catalysts for the international opportunities we have in this state.
Well, why are you studying some of these things so that you can participate in this world? Peter Drucker, a great business guru, said several years ago [that] in the future there would only be two types of CEOs—those that are international and those that are unemployed. We know which side we want to be on in that equation.
It’s good to be here and think about the kinds of preparations that would allow us to do this. I first began doing international about 30 years ago, and a very interesting afternoon—my former law partner and brother-in-law Don Pearson is here—we were practicing law in L.A. Late on a Friday afternoon, on a beautiful day like this in Los Angeles, we probably had tickets to the Dodgers, whatever it was—one of our law partners came in and said, “We have to get something done—it’s Friday afternoon, on Monday, we have to file a license application for this new product in Europe, where we can’t sell it without having it be counterfeited.”
I said, “What’s the product?”
One of our partners said, “Well, I have a friend that loves to surf, and he loves to sail. He put a sail on top of a surfboard, and he calls it a windsurfer.”
So that was the first time I’d ever heard of that, and we wanted to sell this in Holland on Monday, it was a Friday afternoon, and nobody else was willing to volunteer to do it. They said, “Lew, you’re the youngest guy in the room; you’ve got to work on this application.”
So, I called my wonderful wife and said, “Sweetheart, yet again, those five kids are going to have only a mother this weekend.” I worked hard, got the application done, Windsurfer became a huge success story in Europe after that, and from then on, I was the international guy in our law firm. Somebody called up and they couldn’t understand them? “Hey, give them to Cramer; must be an international thing.”
So from that kind of a beginning, where preparation met interest and interest met an opportunity, an international career was born. And from then I had the opportunity, as the president said, to do some fabulous experiences around the world, initially putting cell phones in about 30 countries around the planet—and all that time being a representative of the Church, because whenever a conversation would start in the Czech Republic or the middle of the Soviet Union, or whatever, they would say, “Now, where are you from?”
And I would say, “I went to BYU. Ever heard of BYU?” And invariably they had heard of BYU. You carry that brand on your soul for the rest of your life. And even if I hadn’t been from BYU, I’d probably have said it, because it’s an easy way to start a conversation about the kingdom of God.
So doing international is a blessing in so many ways. It’s another way to continue that superb missionary experience that most of us have enjoyed already. I have found that the three best hours I ever spend in a country is showing up at church. We were in Russia last week, went to the Moscow Ward, met a half dozen men and women who work at the U.S. Embassy there, which was one of the reasons I was there. So making those kinds of connections is a critical part of being a representative, whether it’s LDS Business College, BYU, or wherever.
In Utah, in this 19 billion dollars worth of exports last year, most of them came—the majority, say 55 percent—came from the mines in the western hills: Kennecott, the gold, the primary metals. That’s been for a hundred years, and will probably be for the next hundred years—mines. But we are proud of saying that, in this great state, the future is not in the mines of the western hills, but in the minds of the eastern hills, being the University of Utah, BYU, the LDS Business College. That’s where the real growth is.
Our second-highest export area is in the high-tech products—medical devices, information technology, flash chips from IM Flash. Those things are the kind of preparation that will allow you to be involved in this international opportunity going forward.
Well, that’s how I laid some of the bricks in my foundation of trying to get this work going forward, and just as a reminder, this will not be new information to you, but ever so often, as it says in the Book of Mormon—remember, remember, remember. When I was in the Army, they used to say, “If you only have to tell a soldier something ten times, he’s a genius.” You’re more than geniuses, because I’ll only have to tell you a few times. But just a reminder—some items to focus on as you continue to build your building of steps toward your great work going forward.
President Monson has said repeatedly: “When the time of action arrives, the time for preparation is past.” He was the visiting authority when I was a young missionary in Germany, and he was a brand new apostle, so you know how long ago that was. And I can still remember those words of counsel. And he also said—he would go up on the board and write “WWWWW…”—“working wins when wishy-washy wishing won’t.”
That is the value of preparing. “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” The Doctrine and Covenants [see 38:30] reminds us of that repeatedly.
I loved President Uchtdorf’s talk recently about “Stop it.” Remember that? Everybody knows that one. Correct? How well are we doing it? Stopping it. We know what we need to stop, whether it’s too many video games, too much soda, too much credit card debt, maybe—CCD. My kids grew up knowing CCD. It sounded like a social disease. They did not want credit card debt. Is it too many potato chips? Too much complaining? Too much not exercising? Too much staying up late? Stop it. Now is the time. Stacy reminded us. We’re getting ready to hear conference this week. Prepare for conference by stopping the things we shouldn’t be doing.
As a bishop and as a father, I’ve learned that each of us pretty much knows what we need to stop. So stop it, please.
Now, after you’ve stopped it, what are you going to start? What are you going to replace some of these things with? What can we start replacing it with? Well, one thing that I have…some counsel that I got from Dean Rex Lee, who was the founding dean of the BYU Law School, a great mentor to many of us, president of BYU, solicitor general of the United States, he said, “I made a commitment as a young student that I would always give ten percent more than anybody else. If they were working 40 hours a week, I’d work 44. If they were working 50, I’d do 55. Always ten percent more than the competition.” And that’s paid off in many ways in my life, for me to work more than the competition—ten percent more.
So what other things can we start? We can start doing more service, more mentoring, more just being nice. I remember Hartman Rector said one time, “If you’re interested in getting to the celestial kingdom, a really good place to start is just by being nice.”
We talk a lot about connecting. I can’t remember a whole lot of what I learned in law school many, many years later. But I sure do remember the marvelous classmates that I had. And you all are having that same opportunity, meeting people, building friendships, making connections, enhancing your network of friends that you will be with the rest of your life and perhaps the rest of eternity. It’s important to do that. It’s important to realize, not just on Tuesdays, but every day, this good-looking group is full of friends that you want to participate with, pray with, stop having excess video games, stop drinking too many sodas with, setting each other up, and exhorting them to righteousness.
In the world of international trade, connections are critical. We say that in international business, the most important distance is the last three feet, where you meet somebody, look them in the eye, shake their hand, get a business card, and decide, “Can I do business with this person?” Those kinds of connections are what we did in the mission field, it’s what we do in our Church service; it’s what we should do in our interaction with our fellow students here at the LDS Business College. You will never be disappointed by being too nice, by being too friendly, being too helpful, giving too much service.
Another reminder: integrity. Jacob and Esau—you remember, selling the birthright for a mess of pottage? It was a bad deal 4,000 years ago, and it hasn’t gotten any better with time. Keep that integrity. As I said, I was in Russia last week, and the Russians like to toast. You know, lots of “vodka by the Volga.” They like to enjoy their vodka. The good thing is vodka looks a lot like water. But in all these toasts, these meetings I was in, there was never a question of, “Well, how come you’re not drinking with us?” Because they knew that I, for religious reasons, was not interested in joining in those toasts, but it didn’t matter to them, because whether or not—I remember as a young man seeing all these stories about the Word of Wisdom, and all these temptations, and in my business experience, now going on 40 years, I have never, ever had a problem with the Word of Wisdom. It was always an opening to talk about the Church, and BYU and health.
About 30 years ago I led a trade mission to China, and before the wall … before the opening of China and the Chinese in a much broader way. And the deputy assistant secretary of commerce at that time, leading an official presidential mission there, said, “Well, you’re the leader; you’re going to have to drink all these toasts with the Chinese. That’s the rule.”
I said, “Well, guess what? I’m the boss for this group, and the rule for me is I’m not drinking it.”
They said, “Well, diplomatically you’re going to embarrass us.”
I said, “Trust me; we can make this work.” And we did. I simply said to the Chinese hosts, through an interpreter, “For religious reasons, and for health reasons, I would rather drink an orange soda.” This is in the days when orange soda was pretty tough to get in China.
And they said, “Sure. Religious and health, you’ve got to have that.” And it was very interesting because the first time or two, the other members of my delegation said, “Wait a minute. What are you doing drinking orange soda and we’re drinking this stuff.” About four days into that mission, every single one of the members of my group had had enough of the Chinese alcohol, and they all had religious and health reasons for not drinking anything but orange soda.
So it’s great to be an example and it’s great to stand up for what is right.
Warren Buffett, a great business leader, one of the richest men in the world and a smart business executive, said, “There are three things required for a successful business to succeed: integrity, energy, and intelligence.” But he said, “Without the first—integrity—the last two will kill an organization.” You can have some real energetic, real smart people, but without integrity, you haven’t got a business.
I began by talking about how important lifelong learning is—taking the long view, and not just saying, “Oh, I’ve got my degree from LDS Business College; thank goodness I’ll never have to open a book again.” Believe me, that’s just the start of the climb. That’s where the excitement begins. I love the words that were on the BYU Library, that we saw every day back long ago, from Doctrine and Covenants 88:118: “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” By study, by faith. And it didn’t say “seek as long as you are going to school,” or “seek until you’re married,” or “seek until your children have left home,” but it said “seek ye out of the best books.”
Another word of counsel: in D&C 92:2, Frederick Williams is encouraged to be “a lively member” of this order. I have found that the best employees, the best colleagues, the most exciting friends to travel with, are those who are curious about the world, who are always, “Hey, what’s around the corner?” “Have you thought about this?” “Have you looked at these other sides of this opportunity.” And it’s important to do that. In the world that we live in now—you’ve probably heard of Professor Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business School talking about “disruptive technology.” This world is being disrupted and changed in so many ways. And those who can stay ahead of this tsunami going forward are going to prosper in this new world.
In business, your job will often be to disturb the peace. Too many employees have a “Do Not Disturb” sign on them. You know, you just, “We don’t want to make a change.” That’s not the way the graduates of the LDS Business College are going to be.
A great leader once said, “Very few great things in this world were ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” It’s important to be enthusiastic about the opportunities around you. It makes folks want to be part of your team. They want to work with you together. They want to have orange soda in that Chinese toasting time instead of doing something else. So you may be looking about how you can be a disturber of the peace going forward. As you may recall, the Prophet Joseph Smith, in his story telling about the temptations of the devil coming to him, he said in Joseph Smith—History 1:20, “I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of [Satan’s] kingdom.” So we need to be a disturber and annoyers of the devil’s kingdom.
Going along with enthusiasm, I appreciate so much the words of the scriptures. They are a strength going forward. In D&C 123:17, from the depths of the Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph, remember, said these kind words to his brother: “dearly beloved brethren [and sisters], let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” Doing things cheerfully in His kingdom make a difference. And those of you have children know that, if you ask them to do a chore, and they answer cheerfully, that’s worth everything to you. Those of you who are students, if you are cheerful to your professors, that’s worth a lot, too.
I had the privilege of teaching at some interesting universities over the years, and the students who had integrity, who were enthusiastic, were cheerful, who were curious, made a big difference going forward. It’s fun to track their successes since then.
We said at the beginning, it’s been kind of a phrase this political campaign—you didn’t build this. Well, we altogether in the cumulative have built LDS Business College. We’ve been part of this. We have invested—even though I’m not a student or an alumnus of this great institution—I’m invested in this. I’m grateful that you have such wonderful leadership. I saw our dear friend Judd King—I hope that you’re all taking Institute classes from Brother King, if you really want to get your value out of your experience here at LDS Business College, don’t miss Brother King’s classes. But we are standing on the shoulders of giants, as Isaac Newton said about his work, when people were praising him for being such a smart leader. He said, “I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.”
And you are standing on the shoulders of 125 years of giants at LDS Business College, and I’m honored to be here, also standing on the shoulders of President Richards and others, these wonderful teachers that you have. I bear you my testimony that the Lord wants you to succeed, that He wants us each to make great things out of small things, going forward, that as we work together to do this, we will be blessed in doing that, because He wants you to be part of His kingdom, serving throughout the world, making a difference, building lives, cheerfully disturbing the peace, doing those kinds of things that the Lord expects of His servants. As Stacy said, as we listen to our prophet’s voice this week, and feel the Lord’s Spirit, we will be blessed going forward. I bear you my testimony that this is His work and we are blessed to be part of it, and we’ll be united together as friends someday in that kingdom. And I say this gratefully, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Close Modal