Someone You Should Know, Part 2

Filed in Living by on September 25, 2014 4 Comments

BrianThis is my second post in a series on people I greatly admire. In this article, I profile my college roommate, Brian McMerty. I think you’ll find him very special and endearing, and I feel fortunate to be able to count him as a lifelong friend.

Brian was the eighth child of nine, raised in a middle class family in Fargo, North Dakota. He never discussed his childhood much, but I know his parents worked more than one job and struggled to make ends meet. They provided well for their large family, but they were only able to afford the necessities of life. Brian was going to have to go out in the world and make his own luck.

When I first met my new roommate at the University of Notre Dame, he immediately impressed me as just a really nice and upbeat guy. The first thing I thought was, “Good roommate material!” He also seemed bright, but he was so humble that I wasn’t quite sure just how smart he really was. Then we started taking classes together and I found out the answer to that. Bear in mind, I was what they call a “grinder” in school. I would start studying for an exam several days before the test, and log countless hours methodically memorizing every detail in my notes and the textbook. One time I remember asking Brian the night before an exam, “Are you ready for this one?” He said something to the effect that, yeah, he started studying a little that night, and that I studied too hard. Then, I proceeded to get a 96 on the exam, which was an “A,” and he got a 95, also a high “A.”

My reaction was: “It’s just not fair! I had to bust my ass for days to get that ‘A’!” Oh well, Brian was just a lot brighter than me. What can you do?

Brian has since been tremendously successful in his professional life, as you might expect. He went on to get an MBA from Duke University, was named CFO of a public company at age 35, and now owns and is managing partner of a large executive search firm in North Carolina. Yet more impressive than his professional accomplishments is how he spends his free time, which is of course quite limited given the demands of being an entrepreneur and business owner. He volunteers many hours every week to charities that focus on children and students who have the greatest needs in his community, including serving on several boards of directors of non-profit organizations. Brian is also married and has raised two fine sons and a wonderful daughter, and is a dedicated family man. All of this speaks volumes about Brian’s priorities and character.

I hadn’t seen Brian for several years and then recently saw him at a college reunion. We gave each other a big hug and then we talked. He wanted to know all about what I had been doing since we last saw each other. He was completely focused on me and listening intently to what I had to say. So many people just want to talk about themselves in a situation like this, right? Not Brian. And his reactions were things like, “That’s great!,” “That’s so cool!,” “You are really doing well!”

Like I said, what a sweet guy.

Just the other day when I told him I was going to profile him for an article on my website and needed a couple of details about his life, this was his response: “Surely you have someone else you want to write about. I’d be glad to help you, but I consider myself average in almost every way.”

That’s Brian, my college roomie. He is just a really special person, a “shining light,” if you will. And definitely someone you should know.

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

Comments (4)

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  1. Oli Svensen says:

    Squeak- You invited comments from the rest of us college buddies of Brian “Merkin” McMerty. Seeing his sanitized photo above reminded me of the old adage “looks can be deceiving.” So it is with Merkin. The photo image I carry of Merkin from living with him for 4 years is many a Saturday morning his appearing with a grizzly stubble standing in a tattered Notre Dame t-shirt. While the first 3 years in the dorm we had a chapel and Sunday mass downstairs, I never saw him there. Senior year for sure that did not happen. Somebody must have been praying because he survived 4 years of the Fighting Irish lifestyle. That being said, the world and business ethics would be a much better place if we had more people like Merkin, a true friend, a man who knows himself well and makes others a priority in his life. Oli

  2. Chris Lampione says:

    Re: Your article – well written, concise, well researched. While even I, the world’s biggest cynic, have to admit that your appraisal of Brian is under-expressed, we don’t want to read that drivel. Football weekends and toga parties are much better fodder for a literary bombshell. Then again, save those stories for those that join your “Platinum” blog. I think that there are about 15 guys, from 4th floor Stanford Hall that stand shoulder to shoulder on your “eulogy.” He’s a great guy as are you for recognizing greatness. Good job.


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