Don Tocco during a speech at Spring Arbor University (
Don Tocco during a speech at Spring Arbor Uni­versity (

Don Tocco returns to Hillsdale College on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Searle Center to share wisdom on life and support student activ­ities.

The founder and pres­ident of D.L. Tocco & Asso­ciates, a business devel­opment and mar­keting firm for indus­trial con­struction com­panies, comes to Hillsdale for a 14th year to discuss the various seasons of life and how to make the most of each. Tocco is also offering money to college clubs, hon­o­raries, and sports teams based on their per­centage of par­tic­i­pation.

“The reason I do these pro­grams is because I feel the sense of spir­itual oblig­ation to help as many good, young people as I can to follow spir­itual, Christian prin­ciples, live a godly life, live according to the scripture, and succeed greatly and give back,” Tocco said. “I have been blessed with much success with my mentors by fol­lowing their example. I don’t want to see the enormous talent of Hillsdale’s campus go to waste. I want to see it uti­lized to the max. Many of you from Hillsdale College will make America much, much better morally and eth­i­cally.”

In a brand new pre­sen­tation and drawing from four mentors in his life, Tocco will discuss the four seasons of life: learning, appli­cation, giving back, and reflection.

“They’re not nec­es­sarily sea­sonal or equal in length,” he said. “There are four defin­itive potential periods in life that I believe are essential for a suc­cessful and rewarding life.”

The first season, learning, is the most important, Tocco said, because without learning, people can never reach their potential.

“Every­thing we do from birth to the age of 18, 22, 25 is an intense learning period for those who succeed greatly,” he said. “That’s the season you’re in. You are in the most important college in America to garner the real fun­da­mentals, and that’s exciting. I know you guys are getting a great foun­dation.”

The second season is appli­cation, Tocco said, which means finding out the use of what was learned. Having done that, the next time period is to pass on that knowledge and mentor a new gen­er­ation.

At the end, reflection looks back at the pre­vious seasons. To be ful­filled at this stage, a person must have been engaged with learning, applying, and men­toring, Tocco said. It’s a ref­erence to Aris­totle, who, in his final years, did not teach or write but spent time reading the classics and reflecting, he said.

Tocco said these seasons often overlap, and he places himself in the first three.

“While the first phase is critical to our launch, we never stop,” he said. “While the appli­cation phase shows if we are useful, that can go on. I still work. The third season is men­toring – I’ve been men­toring for the past 14 years at Hillsdale. I am vig­or­ously in the third, but I don’t have a lot of time to reflect.”

For the past two years, Tocco has donated $15,000 for campus groups.

“You are learning things that are helpful for later in life,” he said “If I can help in that banner, I can help the stu­dents be effective in another way. That’s where I choose to donate. It’s a way of sup­porting what the school believes in. I would rather do it that way than in the brick and mortar. I’m investing directly in the stu­dents’ lives.”

The deadline for clubs to reg­ister for par­tic­i­pating in Tocco’s talk is 3 p.m. on Thursday, Assistant Director of Student Activ­ities Ashlyn Landherr said. Club leaders can reg­ister using the link in the student activ­ities newsletter or by con­tacting senior Shelby Phillips.

“Don Tocco always gives nuggets of info I’ve been able to hear and apply directly to my own life,” Director of Student Activ­ities Anthony Manno said. “He’s pas­sionate about helping young people through life, and he’s giving directly to student clubs and hon­o­raries.”