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SAGE Alum Forges Ahead as Entrepreneur With ‘Mietus Touch’
By Alan Pergament
When it comes to his experience at Medaille College, Larry Mietus ’05 is a stand-up guy in more ways than one.
Mietus, 52, who received a master’s degree in 2005 in Organizational Leadership through the School of Adult and Graduate Education (SAGE), completed the accelerated, 19-month program by literally standing up at the kitchen table late at night while doing his homework.
“I would stand at the kitchen at night reading my books because if I sat down in a chair I would fall asleep,” said Mietus, a married father of three children who were age 10 and under during his Medaille years from 2003-2005.
“The only way I could stay awake was to stand. There were days I woke up with highlighter on my clothes, my face and I realized I can’t sit down and read anymore. I had to stand. I still had to be a dad, I still had to be a husband, I still had a full-time job. It was extreme time management. I could not give in to any whim that didn’t include family, work or school.”
His experience at Medaille highlights the benefits Medaille SAGE provides for men and women who seek higher degrees while working full-time jobs and raising families.
After graduating from high school in 1979, Mietus worked his way through his studies at the University at Buffalo (UB) by working at area restaurants. He majored in sports communication and minored in advertising and public relations, ultimately graduating in 1984 to begin a brief career in radio before taking jobs in advertising sales, real estate and higher education.
He worked at Bryant & Stratton (B & S) for a decade, ultimately becoming the director of the Western New York Professional Skill Center in the corporate training executive development division. He held that job until 2006.
He was employed at B & S when he entered the master’s program at Medaille after deciding the courses offered at Medaille would best improve his career advancement goals. “I was hungry toward personal growth,” said Mietus.
Before deciding on Medaille, he took the course outline to his supervisor at B & S. He didn’t want to repeat the courses in business, statistics and economics he had taken at UB. “(His supervisor) said ‘if you want to leverage your future, this sounds like a perfect path,’” recalled Mietus.
“It was a little humbling,” said Mietus of writing the letter to explain why he thought he would be successful. “I wrote about how I planned to manage a wife and children and a 50-hour a week job, and being in their program. I basically wrote that I am at a point in my life that I have a different focus and I work best when under pressure and all those things added up would probably help me be more focused than I had ever been in the past. And that I had a natural passion for what was in the curriculum. There were less economics, less finance and less accounting courses and more human resources and leadership and leadership development and ethics classes.”
He also was attracted to the length of the Medaille program. “I loved the fact if you pushed that hard and stayed focused, you could be done in 19 months instead of three years,” he said.
The course required students to meet for four hours each Thursday night for class and another four hours on Tuesdays in groups of four. The rest of what Mietus described as a 30-hour school work week was done at home or at work during breaks.
“You’re really working at a rapid-fire pace,” said Mietus. “I had a phenomenal study group of teammates who were very dedicated.”
Needless to say, the flexibility of the program was perfect for Mietus, who had considerable work and family demands as well. Mietus’ typical day for those 19 months found him getting up at 5 a.m. to help the kids get ready for school, get to work at 7:30 a.m., stay there until 5 or 5:30 p.m., help his wife with the kids until they want to bed around 8:30 p.m. and then studying until midnight or beyond.
He couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement of his wife of 24 years, Kathy. “My wife is my best friend, my soul mate and the absolute love of my life,” said Mietus. “She would always look at me and say, ‘you always do what you set out to do. I never worried about that. I know you can do this.’ She picked up – God bless her – any slack around the house that I couldn’t get to.”
His mother-in-law also helped on Tuesday nights when Mietus met with his study group and his wife worked late. Mietus took 13 courses over the 19 months and said he finished with 12 A’s and one A-minus. He doubts he could have succeeded if he went to another college and it took three years to get his master’s. “I might have walked away,” said Mietus.
After getting his master’s, he worked at a local business consulting firm for four years before founding his own firm, Speaking of Strategy, in 2010. It is based in his Depew home. The company specializes in business consulting, leadership development, corporate training, sales generation and keynote speaking. As an adjunct professor, Mietus also teaches courses at the two colleges he received degrees from – UB and Medaille.
He credits the Medaille program with having a big influence on his life. “A lot of the great lessons at Medaille weren’t in any books,” said Mietus. “It was coming out of the mouths of the instructors. I went to Medaille confident in what I knew and who I was. Medaille helped me take that to another level to captain my own destiny.”
As he prepared to start a new career after leaving B & S, Mietus scheduled a lunch meeting with one of his professors at Medaille, Jerry Kozlowski, at a local restaurant. Mietus walked up to him and shook his hand.
“And he looked up at me and said ‘you are one of the four (risk-takers) and we both knew it,’” recalled Mietus. “I think Medaille put the match on the fire. “I had the raw material, and it put gas on the pile.”
In other words, Medaille had a big hand in developing the Mietus touch.
The instructors were knowledgeable and welcomed class discussions, with
respect for each student's contribution. I've learned how to be a more
effective leader. My capstone class gave insight on how to combine all
the education learned to operate a business. That's when I realized how
much I had sharpened my knowledge.