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.”