For the 13th consecutive year, Don Tocco will return to campus Wednesday, April 13 to deliver a talk at 7 p.m. in the Searle Center. Student groups can sign up to receive an attendance-based monetary donation to their clubs, honoraries, sports teams, or Greek houses from Tocco.
In his talk titled “Learning to Fly: Creating Your Own Instructor’s Manual for Life,” Tocco will provide students with advice about how to incorporate the fundamental principles learned at Hillsdale College into post-graduate life.
“One notable character in Hillsdale students is that so many of you are highly motivated and have a very high expectation for achievement in your personal life,” Tocco said. “I equate that with going higher and farther in life. In order to do that, you have to learn how to fly.”
Tocco will hand out booklets titled “There Are No Grades in the Real World” and give a copy of his book “Art of the Journey” to each senior at the talk, as well.
“We’re born into this complex world without an instructor’s manual,” Tocco said. “What I will be providing are tools, ideas, and ways that you can dial in and work on what I call immutable, unchangeable laws of success. We’re going to cover those fundamental principles and laws on how to get yourselves ready mentally, emotionally, spiritually for a better life.”
Tocco is the founder and president of D.L. Tocco & Associates, a national company based in Troy, Michigan, that specializes in business development and marketing. Tocco is also a published author, an artist, a motivational speaker, and a long-time friend to Hillsdale College.
Director of Student Activities Anthony Manno identified Tocco as a “great guy” to talk about post-graduation success.
“I think Mr. Tocco commands a lot of respect. When he walks in a room, you know he’s important,” Manno said. “I think he’s built up such a good reputation here at the college that students will respect him. And if they don’t know him yet, they will soon know and respect him.”
Sophomore Nathan Putrich, who struck up a friendship with Tocco after meeting him as a prospective student, said this is sure to be one of Tocco’s greatest talks.
“I’m fired up for the event,” Putrich said. “He really wants to connect with every student in the audience and help them to realize that they can take their life by the reigns and achieve the success and fulfillment they are looking for. It’s a no-brainer to attend, be inspired, and help your organization out financially while you’re at it.”
Tocco said he believes Hillsdale College is “the most important liberal arts college in America, and maybe the most important college in America.” For that reason, he said he wants to help Hillsdale students succeed.
“I want to do everything I can to see Hillsdale students succeed because it makes America better — and that’s good for me,” Tocco said. “But you can’t fly until you have a plane, and you have to get your plane built, and you’re building your plane at Hillsdale College.”
In order to help campus organizations, Tocco asked each group leader to come up with a thoughtful question for him to answer after the talk.
“He essentially wants to be put on the spot in a way; he doesn’t want to know the questions beforehand so he has to think on the fly about what he’s done in his life and how that can help you,” Manno said. “Often with Q&A, you answer less questions than you’d hope, so afterward, I am going to provide him with the other questions, and he is going to respond to the other student leaders via email.”
Tocco’s desire to help Hillsdale students is shown through his friendship with Putrich. Putrich said they talk regularly as Tocco offers advice about school and leadership.
“He always has encouraging, guiding, and inspirational words to share and wouldn’t hesitate to tell me to rethink directions if I’m off track,” Putrich said. “I’ve never walked away from a conversation with him without realizing how contagious his passion, enthusiasm, and zeal for life is. It’s incredible. I have a lot of respect for his drive and ambition, and he is always radiating that type of energy.”
In an email sent out by Manno Wednesday, student group leaders can find a link to a Google form that will allow them to sign up for the event.
Manno said Tocco ultimately will make the decision regarding what constitutes as good attendance. Then, Manno will use a simple formula involving the number of group members and the percentage of attendance to determine the monetary amount. Tocco has not disclosed how much money he will donate.
After more than 400 students attended last year’s talk, Manno said he expects another great turnout. Tocco said he looks forward to returning to Hillsdale each year, and this year is no different.
“This is my favorite thing I do all year. It’s where I have the most fun,” he said. “It’s a real honor, and I look forward to it.”