by SonnyLee on Apr.24, 2012, under Weekly Guests
President and CEO, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
Ronald Markham is now in my top three list of favorite speakers in this class, along with Bob Brown and Barbara Majors. I had heard his name a few times from Irvin in this class, so I had a good impression of him before he spoke in our class today. Mr. Markham definitely surpassed my expectations of him. He started off with telling us a little about his background, which was very interesting and unexpected. I learned that Mr. Markham was friends with Irvin in high school, and he began playing the piano at age 14. When Irvin asked Ronald how he got into playing the piano he answered that his interest in the piano was sparked by a small church in Mid City off of Orleans Avenue where he grew up. Mr. Markham realized that he had “a natural ear for music” when he began playing the piano. At that point he decided to attend the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, commonly known as NOCCA. He started off playing Gospel music but then got into a Jazz program with no prior knowledge about the style of music when he was accepted to NOCCA. The part of his background that I was most surprised by was that he was a cocky kid. Ronald said that he knew that he was good at the piano, so he was a little arrogant and didn’t apply himself as much as he could have at NOCCA. I would not expect this from someone who is so successful today, but we all have our faults at times. When speaking about his degree in Mechanical Engineering he said, “It’s a philosophy, a way of thinking. It teaches you critical thinking skills.” I think that this is very true and important in life when dealing with a corporation, especially when holding executive positions. During Mr. Markham’s lecture, I felt compelled to write down everything that he was saying because it was so true, and I felt that it could really be useful information to me in life. Also, I felt that I had to blog about what he told us about his background because it was so intriguing and inspiring to me.
I am actually a business major, so I was very interested in what Mr. Markham had to say about his job as the President and CEO of the NOJO. As the President and CEO of the NOJO, and manager of Irvin’s clubs at the Royal Sonesta Hotel and the JW Marriott, Mr. Markham is responsible for everything that happens in these three places on a daily basis. It is his job to make sure that everything is running smoothly and effectively. My favorite part of the lecture with Ronald Markham was when he talked about how special New Orleans and its culture really is. He said that New Orleans is a great, unique city, and its culture pulls from cities and countries outside of the United States. That is what makes this city so unique from all the cities in the United States. I found it very easy to believe when Mr. Markham said that he loves visiting other places because the welcome he gets from people is so warm because they are always excited to meet a New Orleanian. I was born and raised in New Orleans, so a lot of times I find my outlook of New Orleans being clouded by the violence and devastation that takes place in my city. Markham suggested to me to “be a tourist in my own town” to remind myself of why this city is so great. A few things that Mr. Markham said also stood out to me. They are, “Always try to find a moment to grow.” “The human spirit strives to be successful.” “Try to get where you’re going in style, because that’s who people are going to remember.” If you don’t figure it out, someone will figure it out for you.” “Don’t half ass with anything because someone will pass you up.” When asked about how he prioritizes personal development, networking, and time management, Markham said, “Time management comes first. From there, I can find the time for personal development, and networking and building relationships is a result of my personal development. In other words, I will be able to build relationships with other people because they will like who I am.” I found his answer very logical and helpful. Ronald Markham is definitely someone who I find inspiring, especially in a business aspect.
Ronald Markham was very interesting. It was good to hear how he admitted his arrogance and noncomittment. He told how as a youngman that he choose piano, because that made the girls want to talk to him. But he learned from his mistakes and one of his key thought was not to half ass anything. Either look at and make a decision to give it your all or walk away from it. He went for an engineering degree first, which he says he does not regret. He says that working for the degree and made him think about how to use the knowledge he had and apply himself. NOCCA and learned a lot there. He brought out that your degree is somewhat irrelative because in the end it ends up being the same thing, a type of philosophy. Your philosophy teaches you critical thinking skills. He uses these skills on a daily basis as he is the CEO for three different clubs for Irvin Mayfield. He said the objectively ther city of New Orleans was very unique and objectively the city draws on influence from lots of different cultures so it is very different than other cities.
Ronald Markham says that learning Jazz was a type of normalizer. He says he loves it because it brings blacks and whites together with one flowing force. He brought out how he was raised in New Orleans and it took leaving the area for a short time to realize how great the city really is. We forget the unique sites, great insturmentalists, and interesting cultures when it is right in our own backyard. He equalizes Louis Armstrong with other graeat like Einstien. He said Armstrong was a truly amazing instrumentalist and he took time to make others love the music and strive to be his best. Often people would check out the instruments played by Armstrong, because they could not believe he was able to play so well. Learning jazz is an ongoing experience because there is constantly new things to learn and ways to add to it.
One key thing he brought out was for each person to figure out what they wanted to do in life and get there in a memorable way. Be an individual to the fullest. Syle is about delivery, and how you do something with things can make a lot of difference.
He said to always have a strategy. One of the key ideas to success is to love life and make a contribution with what you are doing to make your area better. Through your striving to contribute to be your best and make an influence, then you will really do something good and may actually enjoy it.
Ronald Markham was around some of the great musical players suce as Jason Marcellas, Nicholas Payton and Irvin Mayfield. But it wasn’t until he really fell on his face because he did not properly practice that he sreally started applying himself. Since that time Ronald has never allowed himself to be so complacent again. He practices music many hours a day along with being the CEO for three major vinues. It is obvious he applies himself today, because he is now responsible for the health of business from day to day and some of the educational programs at NOJI. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzhe is responsible for attracting good talent. He says the music that is played in these clubs can be extremely important to drawing an executive to this city. By hearing the good music and seeing the good performance they realize this is a very interesting city and a great place to bring their business. So he does his best to influence these people through the clubs how great New Orleans is a business site.
Don’t let the tee shirt and jeans fool you! Ronald Markham might be young and hip but he has climbed the ladder to his success “in style” holding the position of CEO and President of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO).
I don’t know if it was just me. But I feel that Ronald Markham was one of the most “conversational” guests during the course of this class. During this lecture I felt that I was listening to someone I’ve known for years.
The thing I took away from this class is having a drive to reach for your goals whatever they might be to find the true “beauty” in what makes you happy. And if that wasn’t enough Markham said plainly: if you don’t strive to be at the top of your game “Somebody’s going to come along and beat that ass”. So true … The minute you grow complacent is the moment someone was else is coming for that same goal.
As a musician this lecture has encouraged me to really step up my game. These motivating words have seriously pushed me into to working hard on my crafts, without excuses.
Ronald Markham is perhaps the busiest person we have had come in for an interview all semester. With managing Irvin Mayfield’s jazz clubs at the Royal Sonesta Hotel and the JW Marriot, while staying on top of all his duties as the president and CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, it was greatly appreciated that he used his free time to come talk to us. As such a busy person, I wondered when he ever gets time to just sit back and relax. Markham told us that time management is the most important and should be the first step. From there comes personal development and because of personal development comes networking and building relationships. Lately, I have been so ready to finish college and move far away from New Orleans, even though I was born and raised here. He changed my mindset by saying “be a tourist in your own town.” What that means is to enjoy all of the good things about the city and brush off the negativity. Asa business major, he also inspired me to stop screwing around as much and to always give 110%. My favorite quote from Ronald Markham was “Don’t half ass anything because someone will pass you up.” This hit me hard being a business major and because that is the cold hard truth. I thought it was very cool that Markham and Mayfield were friends in high school. That just goes to show you that networking is a big important part of life no matter what you plan on doing. Markham started playing the piano when he was 14 years old and went to the commonly known NOCCA(New Orleans Center for Creative Arts). On top of attending NOCCA, Markham also had a degree in mechanical engineering. Ronald Markham was a great speaker and defined the saying “hard work pays off.”
I absolutely loved listened to Ronald Markham. He was charismatic, funny, and overall very entertaining to listen to. He is currently the President and CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and seems to be a close friend of Irvin’s. Parts of his background definitely surprised me. He grew up in New Orleans and discovered is talent on the piano in church when he was a teenager. He auditioned for the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts as a piano player and shared with us a great anecdote from his audition. He said that after playing the instructor asked him if he was familiar with jazz piano and to name a jazz pianist, to which Mr. Markham responded “Etta James”. I’m not sure why I found this to be so funny, but it definitely stuck out in my mind after his lecture. Anyway, he was accepted to NOCCA, where he honed his piano skills and met Irvin. Instead of pursuing music after high school, he chose to attend UNO for mechanical engineering. This completely threw me for a loop, especially given his position today. He eventually found his way back to music as a career, which I am very glad for. He did note that majoring in engineer taught him some valuable skills that he has been able to take into his current career. He learned how to think critically and set up systems to accomplish tasks, which he believes has helped him greatly in his musical and other endeavors.
Ronald Markham made a few very important points about leadership, careers, and life in general. When asked about his position as President and CEO for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, he described his job as being the “fall guy” who has to take responsibility for everything. He explained that because he is responsible for overseeing the operation of the organization, its fate truly rests in his hands. While many might run from this massive amount of responsibility, Mr. Markham appeared to face it head on and actually enjoy taking such a large role in the organization. Through his discussion about his choice to major in engineering rather than music, I learned an important lesson about discovering and following your true passion. Although he didn’t follow studying music into college, his true passion found him later in life and he was ready to take on everything necessary to enjoy his passion as a career. Through the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, he also been able to give back to his community by encouraging young musicians to perfect their skills and follow their passion and talents. He explained that the Orchestra hosts Saturday music schools and even a summer music camp to allow young people to develop their skills and contribute to the beautiful music culture in New Orleans in the future. I think that this is awesome and I am so glad that someone is taking the time to give young people in this city the opportunity to participate in the lively New Orleans culture.
Ronald Markham’s focus on style and delivery was very interesting to me. He mentioned that the great geniuses like Einstein and Louis Armstrong had a style; although odd to some it was a style that distinctively represented them apart from the mold. He encouraged us to have our own style do in everything on our own journeys with style. Hard work and dedication was also focal point of this lecture. He encouraged us to find a love for life and strive to be better every day. True, this is a line we have heard time and time again. However, during his talk you could almost feel the passion Markham had behind the statement, that relentless desire for success. “The human spirit strives for success” but you must work at it and work hard, because somebody else will come along and do it better. This message to beat on our crafts some and become better every day was very inspiring and was probably my favorite lecture out the class. I don’t think I can effectively put into words how powerful this class was to me.
Ronald Markham is a wonderful pianist and is very dedicated to the preservation and progression of jazz in the City of New Orleans.
He has forged relationships with many schools in the New Orleans area, including the University of New Orleans, through which he created the New Orleans Jazz Institute in 2008 to advance the instruction of jazz to UNO’s music students.
At Dillard University, Markham founded the Institute of Jazz Culture, which is a program that studies the effects of jazz music on New Orleans culture.
Markham was made president of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra in 2002 by founder Irvin Mayfield. Mr. Markham handles much of the operations such as touring, finances, and fundraising for the NOJO.
The orchestra has become one of the most successful touring jazz orchestras in America, and the organization aims to sustain the jazz economy in the city.
I also learned that Markham worked to help the musicians of New Orleans after Katrina by securing the musicians housing, and offering a concert, “All the Saints,” just a few weeks after the reopening of the city.
And as far as his personal music skills, Mr. Markham is very talented. In Irvin’s “Music Inside Out,” Markham sat in on many sets, including one with saxophone player Ed Ferguson, which was brilliant.
While Mr. Markham and many others have said, “be a tourist in your own city.”
The problem is, I don’t want to be a tourist in my own city, because I’ll be surrounded by people that are not related to the local culture, and often don’t know how to behave themselves, especially while drinking too much.
While he is on the business side of the tourism industry, that largely defines New Orleans’ current economy, I am on the academic side.
I study a good bit about the effects of tourism on our long-term prosperity, and I don’t think it is a solid foundation.
Not to mention, it ruins the french quarter for locals and detracts from other city initiatives to support locals-
Where is a new streetcar being put in? Loyola Avenue, from Canal to “Union Terminal” (The Superdome).
It’s for tourists.
A second line at the convention center?
The city’s over-focus on tourism is really detracting from development that could support the real draw in New Orleans- its diverse neighborhoods.
Anyhow, I hope the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and Mr. Mayfield’s three clubs continue to thrive under Mr. Markham, I just want to state that City Hall should focus on economic development outside of the CBD and French Quarter.
Ronald Markham was definitely one of my favorite speakers to come to the class this semester. Although he showed some concern about how well he was doing in the interview because nobody had much to say in the beginning, I think he failed to realize that he was doing such a great job at keeping the class interested that none of us wanted to stop him from speaking. He was a very charismatic speaker and this interview will stay with me for the rest of my life.
It is said that you can get a judge of someone’s character by the people he or she associates with. I can tell why Mr. Irvin asked Mr. Markham to be the CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, because their personalities fit so well with each other. So, for me, this interview was successful in not only getting to know Mr. Markham, but also in getting to know Mr. Irvin a little better.
It was a surprise to learn that both Irvin and Markham attended New Orleans Center for Creative Arts together but no surprise to learn that they became friends. Markham stated that his first influence in playing piano came from gospel music played at the church he attended and that he started playing piano for the church at the age of 11. From there he applied to NOCA where he was almost denied entry. He admitted his arrogance which is an extremely difficult thing to do but promised that he would give music his best effort. He then graduated from NOCA and followed a path that would confuse most individuals. He had his mind set in 8th grade that he wanted to be a mechanical engineer and after his graduation from NOCA he attended the University of New Orleans where he received his degree in Mechanical Engineering. His life took another twist when he became the CEO of NOJA.
I wondered why he went from music to engineering and back to music, focusing on the business aspect, and how his schooling in art aspect of music and in mechanical engineering led him to this decision and allowed him to excel at it. I found out that his love for music along with the right opportunities made him decide to accept the position as CEO of NOJA. However, I still wondered how mechanical engineering allowed him to become great at what he does. He said studying mechanical engineering forced him to think critically which is the key to operating anything successfully. Having studied engineering for most of my early college career it made me realize that this is true.
Finally Markham referenced great people in different fields of study throughout his interview and was then asked why. This is when he said something that I will always remember, “If you strive to be great, surround yourself with greatness and learn from it.” You don’t have to limit yourself to people who are great at whatever it is that you want to do with your life. If you are around people who are great at anything you can learn from them how to be great.
Ronald Markham was one of my top three favorite guests all semester, beside Barbra Major and Mayor Ray Nagin. When Mr. Markham first began speaking I thought he seemed very full of himself. I thought he was a young guy who didn’t really care to be there, but rather was just doing his friend Irvin Mayfield a favor. I just knew for sure that I would not enjoy this speaker at all, but I was very very wrong. What was funny to me was that as Mr. Markham was telling us how he came to be in the position he is in now, President and CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, he even admitted himself that he was extremely arrogant as a student learning to play piano at NOCCA. He thought that he could do it all and didn’t need anyone to tell him any differently. By the end of the class, the guest I saw before me was someone very humble, well rounded and versed in many areas. Mr. Markham was one of the few guests that left a lasting impression on me.
When I say that Mr. Markham is well rounded what I mean is that I would never expect a piano player and president of a jazz orchestra to have a degree in mechanical engineering. He could have very well majored in music at UNO, but Mr. Markham said that since middle school he had made up in his mind that he would pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. This was very admirable since I know that is not at all an easy task. My next thought, however, was how in the world does all the time spent getting that degree contribute to where he is now. Mr. Markham’s answer to this was that earning his engineering degree taught him critical thinking skills, skills that he now uses to link systems within his different projects. What surprised me most about Mr. Markham’s lecture, and what was also the turning point in it to me was when he began to speak about existentialism. I am a psychology major, and I’ve been learning a lot about existentialism lately. Existentialism is something I am really into and always willing to learn more about, so once I heard Mr. Markham say “Kierkegaard” I was all ears. This leads me to another point Mr. Markham himself made. He spoke about how when meeting people whether it is doing business or whatever, you never know what common ground you all may share. He told us how he and Professor Mayfield once met with the president of American Express, and them simply pointing out a book in his office was the opening to what became a business venture for them. It was at this point that I realized although he may seem like a basic young guy, Mr. Ronald Markham is a very knowledgeable and savvy person.
Mr. Markham made a lot of statements that really stood out to me, but I’d like to list a few here. “It is difficult to pause and say ‘What am I going to do to grow myself today?’” This is so true, because we are all so caught up in our own hustle and bustle that we don’t have enough time in our days to worry about anyone but ourselves. “If you don’t figure it out, someone else will.” Here Mr. Markham gave the example of how Facebook was said to be a stolen concept. The point is whether it was an original idea or not, Zuckerburg is the one who took the idea and ran with it and he’s now a billionaire. There were so many more stand out points that I could go on forever, but this was definitely a favorite guest of mine.
I was absent for this class and the interview is not available on video as per the syllabus so I will not be completing a blog for this focus group.
Ronald Markham, the President and CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra was one of the most stimulating guests this semester. As a individual who grew up in New Orleans and attended the prestigious NOCCA a couple of years behind Irvin Mayfield, it was interesting to hear him tell how he was inspired by music through his early childhood involvement and participation in church gospel music. Although he graduated from NOCCA, he went on to the University of New Orleans majoring in Mechanical Engineering. This did not deter his involvement in music and as he indicated it allowed him to become more creative and focused on critical thinking skills. Mr. Markham indicated how important learning was for him both now and in the past. He told the students to strive to learn to be smarter than they were the previous day, make it a point in your life to grow. Markham indicated how Jazz is a perennial journey and how important learning music is for him both now as in the past. It was very evident of Markham’s love of New Orleans and music, and the importance of Jazz from it beginnings and promoting it now to others as he learned from his mentors growing up. As president of NOJO, he has carried this forward with students through NOJO’s Saturday music education program and his relationships the business community not only in New Orleans but around the world.
Ronald Markham seemed like a cool guy. I liked how he wasn’t afraid to ask us if we were totally bored with his presentation, even though I wasn’t bored. I was pulled into his talk right away when he said that his major at UNO was mechanical engineering. It wasn’t what I had expected him to say and it caught my attention because people always make you think that you have to find a career in your major. This may be true for some but I like to look at it as an option because I hope to try more than one career. I feel like your major can help you out in any career, such as the critical thinking part of Ronald’s help him to set up a jazz system from scratch. It was encouraging when he said that all majors are a way of thinking, or a philosophy; it teaches you critical thinking. Again and again in this class it’s been really cool to meet CEO’s and have the opportunity to see that they are regular people with a complicated title. Before this class I wouldn’t have expected them to be so calm, although everyone, including Ronald, were very put together. It’s also always great to hear them talk about past flaws that they didn’t let stop them from progressing. His background starting out as a cocky piano player because he was the only one who played in his gospel church was kind of funny, in the sense that he was cocky about a position earned by default. Although, I’m sure he was still a great player at the time.
Mr. Markham said some things that stuck out to me.
“Learning Jazz is perennial.” He said it never dies, and I think this holds true for almost anything that you are interested in and love. Learning never ends.
You can’t appreciate something till it’s gone.
Make it a point to grow for a minute a day. This was a point that I won’t forget because sometimes you wake up in the morning and it just seems like it will be another routinely day. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you take the time to grow from whatever you do. One little thing can change you for the better if you take the time to acknowledge it.
Leave this place in style and style is about delivery; this is something I had never thought about. The main thing I took away from Ronald Markham is that how you do things is just as important as what you do.
Critical Thinking: Engineer School’s Contribution to a CEO Entrepreneur
A response to Ronald Markham’s interview
Some people have such a strong will and persistence for success that they ultimately achieve and even exceed what it is they strive for, while others – they are just born with the ability to obtain success. Ronald Markham is one of those who just get it. Call him a visionary, call him a business prodigy, or call him an entrepreneur; whichever way you put it, there is something about the way he approaches things that give him a distinct advantage over the average individual.
Although Ronald attributes much of his critical thinking skills to his experience in Engineering School, it is clear that his ability to make strong decisions was engraved in him long before college. As a young middle-school boy, Ronald eagerly absorbed every bit of wisdom he could from his mentor. And when he reached high school, his desire for knowledge and a clear direction became even more strong.
Strong leaders – team-players – such as Ronald Markham are a critical and valuable asset to whichever organization they are involved in, this is one of the reasons why I am confident that the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and Irvin Mayfield’s jazz clubs will succeed under his leadership.
I was absent for this class and based off the posts by everyone in the class I am very upset that I missed this class. It seemed as if he was very inspiring and very important for the fact that he is the CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. I have never really paid much attention to Jazz music, but after taking this class Irvin and how he talked so highly of people such as Ronald Markham led me to look into the music and culture that inspires them.
Before Ronald Markham walked into class that day, I had already known him before from Professor Mayfield’s Importance of Artistic Literacy Lecture. So I had already known that he was President and CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. But what surprised me was that early in his interview he mentioned that he graduated from UNO in mechanical engineering. I didn’t know how he could have a mechanical engineering degree but end up being the President and CEO of NOJO. During his interview he explained how he had a love for music since he was a child and persevered through NOCCA to get a better understanding about jazz music. When it came time for college, he knew he wanted to be an engineer, but did not know what field to go into. Someone told him not to go civil engineering but mechanical instead. He was going to say why until he asked if there were any civil engineers in the class, and I alone raised my hand. It was funny to me; I didn’t take it to heart at all. Later in his interview he explained the benefit of having an engineering degree, even though his position now did not reflect it. He said that it gave him critical thinking skills, which I can agree with it does, even though half of the required classes seem pointless to take. I think it’s awesome that he graduated with an engineering degree, and still got a chance to be involved in something he really enjoys besides engineering. And now he uses the same critical thinking skills to manage day-to-day operations for NOJO and also Irvin Mayfield’s two jazz clubs.
Ronald Markham said that New Orleans builds its culture from all other cultures around it. Just like the city, make everyday a chance to grow yourself. He also said that New Orleans encourages people to have individuality. And with music, anyone can make opportunities for themselves. New Orleans is the perfect place to have a chance at anything; you just have to be willing to do it like Ronald Markham pushing through NOCCA, UNO, and now everything he manages. He made a point that if you don’t figure out what it is you’re doing for whatever reason, there will always be someone else willing to take it away from you. What I can take from that is to capitalize on every opportunity that one gets, Mr. Markham.
I was extremely impressed by Ronald Markham. It is inspiring to see a UNO graduate who has enjoyed so much success. One thing I noticed was how quick he was. Not only were his responses well thought out but they were all most immediate. He strikes me as someone who likes to take on challenges just to prove he can do them. Like an adrenaline junky in the game of life success. Take his mechanical engineering degree for example. Arguably one of the hardest undergrad degrees you can attain. Mr. Markham stated that he decided early that he wanted to do something in the physical sciences because of the financial benefit, but something tells me he chose this degree because it was difficult and he wants to prove he could do it. This is similar to his piano playing which he states he picked up because, “the ladies like the piano players.” He was also strongly influenced by New Orleans style gospel heard at a small church on Orleans Avenue. His desire to become a master of the instrument started with a plastic keyboard, on which he taught himself.
Formal training came later when Ronald Markham entered the NOLA Center for Creative Arts. He was barely accepted by Mr. Kurt and had to pass a test within the first two weeks. On which, he of course excelled and scored a ninety-three. At NOCCA he was able to hone his skills and learn all types of great music.
As President and CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and head of several other business engagements in the city Ronald says he uses the critical thinking in his Engineering degree to link systems for higher efficiency and assess physical programmatic contextual health of systems. He spoke of New Orleans a unique city because we pull cultures from so many different places into our own. Other people are always excited to come to the city of New Orleans. It is the only city where it is really encouraged to be an individual. He spoke about the difference in enthusiasm toward our culture versus that of transplants. “It is natural to the indigenous entity to be blind to their own culture, compared to transplants. You have to stop and look around and understand why the French Quarter is so beautiful.” It is this insight which makes him such an effective business leader. Mr. Markam is tasked with the difficult job of monetizing New Orleans culture, jazz in particular.
Ronald Markam is a driving force that radiates motivation and confidence. He spoke of the idea that excellence of a man that supersedes ignorance of men through great work, in reference to Louis Armstrong’s work to bridge the racial divide, calling Jazz an incredible normalizer. He stressed the importance of learning about great men from the past and pooling on their knowledge and experience. He also spoke about the importance of being well read because not only does it give you points of relation when meeting new people, but reading gives you insight into how the human mind works.
My first encounter with Ronald Markham was at Irvin Mayfield’s Artistic Literacy lecture. He was was dressed for the occasion. He spoke well, had a nicely coordinated business suit and when I heard that he was the President and CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra I thought this guy must be pretty important. When I heard he was our guest speaker for this class period I figured he would come to class as the well dressed and put together like I remembered. Surprisingly he didn’t. He came to class casual, from his attire to the way he addressed the class. This actually worked for me because it made him appear to be more approachable. Even With all of his accolades he still seemed personable.
When Ronald told us that his actual degree was in Mechanical Engineering I was pleasantly surprised. I wouldn’t expect a person with a musical background to be interested in Mechanical Engineering. It was cool though because it made him well rounded. He has the structural as well as the creative side. Why wouldn’t you want some one like that to run your business?
He then went on to talk about the city and it’s individuality. When he said we can go anywhere and the warm greeting that we give to them will hardly ever be greater than the greeting that we receive because the love of New Orleans. That’s because New Orleans is unlike any other place and it’s individuality bleeds into its citizens. Like Ronald said it’s one of the few cities that encourage people to be themselves. I really enjoyed Ronald Markham’s lecture because he showed that even with his accolades he hasn’t forgotten where he’s come from as well as well he can still be down to earth and personable.
All the the speaker this semester were exceptionally motivated people. Ronald Markam was the only one whose drive I was really jealous of. It just seems so natural for him. I struggle to turn in the easiest assignments and he just seems to know exactly what he wants, and simply does it. Of course there were the moments early on in his life where he slacked off, but he immediately made up for it, and apparently has never done so again.
It was endearing to hear his story about the time he failed to practice a Bach piece and felt he had failed Irvin who was playing trumpet in the piece. The best part was when at the end of the story Irvin mentioned that there were also dancers that were counting on Ron too “He always forgets that part” that was hilarious.
The other time he felt that he had failed was when he was testing for entry into NOCCA. He was completely underprepared, but promised Mr. Kurt that he would learn what he needed to for the test. He studied maybe two weeks and aced it. He is clearly highly intelligent, motivated, and driven, the latter being what I envy the most.
He mentioned Nietzsche and Kierkegaard and I jumped right on that. I’m not trained in business theory, so a lot of what he was saying didn’t resonate with me, but if there is one thing I know, its existentialism. I asked how reading Nietzsche might be useful to a CEO such as himself. He responded that being able to communicate with people on a higher level and be able to show that you are trained in a wide range of thought is important for displaying your worth and creating connections in the business world. But maybe mainly it is important to develop yourself as a person to be an exceptional leader, business leader, and see the world in various ways that will help you innovate.
“If you don’t figure it out, someone else will.” There is a world of competition that I am not sure I ever want to be a part of. Rob is motivated because he has to be, if he doesn’t get it done, it doesn’t get done. Many people are depending on him. My sense is that I would crack under this pressure. But who knows. We don’t really know ourselves until we are tested, it might be that we would all benefit from being under this kind of stress, we would all find our best selves.
Like Irvin, Rob is deeply invested in New Orlean’s jazz, believes in its potential and it working very hard to further establish its place not only as cultural presence, but an economic one that will enrich the city and its people.
“If you strive to be great, surround yourself with greatness and learn from it.” I think this is a great insight and it works the other way to. If you spend your time around depressive bums, you are inevitably going to feel drained. We need the presence of powerful people to grow ourselves, we aren’t ubermensch.
Ronald Markham walked into class shook Irvin, Paul, and Sonny’s hands; he was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and looked rather young. I was a little shocked that what I assumed to be a close friend of our professors was here to speak to us. Well, I was correct that they are good friends, what I wasn’t expecting was how accomplished this man in jeans is.
Markham grew up around church music, his dad was a deacon of a small church in mid-city New Orleans. Being in the church sparked his interest in playing the piano. He started learning to play in the church around the age of 11. Going into 9th grade he was inducted into NOCCA, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, jazz department. NOCCA barely let him in mind you, he even admits he was a bit of a cocky kid, so he didn’t take his interview as seriously as he should have. Here he learned not only jazz but mastered many other genera’s of music. He says he learned a lot about himself though learning to play music. Here is where he met Professor Mayfield. After NOCCA he knew he wanted to stay in New Orleans for college and decided to attend UNO. He always wanted to study engineering, so he did. He compared engineering to being a doctor or a lawyer. He says they are all the same in essence, it is a philosophy, a way of thinking. Engineers way of thinking is constant organization and critical thinking. The engineers way of thinking, he says, has helped him in everyday life. Today Ronald wears many hats. He is the CEO of NOLA Jazz Orchestra and runs both of Irvin’s clubs, along with positions in many other organizations. I was surprised of Markham’s past, especially that he studied engineering! I feel like it is rare that you find someone who has such a passion for something, in Markham’s case music, and yet they go to college and study something so completely different. Then he reverted back to his passion for his career, and works with music every day. He truly followed his heart and knew what he wanted!
Markham spoke a lot about New Orleans. He compared New Orleans to all the great cities in the world, saying New Orleans pulls pieces of all these cultures and makes them one. He said New Orleans is a very flexible city, and encouraged us to all be a tourist in our own town. Not to be compared with the most recent tagline sent out by the NOCVB! He is right I need to spend more time in the different parts of the city and see what it has to offer. I see the city from my own little bubble and I need to be more objective and take a step back.
One student asked “Why is Louis Armstrong important to other careers, not only music, such as nurses, HRT majors, etc?” I was shocked by Markham’s answer. He said that Louis Armstrong was a great musician, but what made him great is what we need to look at. Armstrong took his music and changed the world. With his trumpet, he went against the cultural norm. He suspended the ignorance of people at the time because when he played music everyone ignored his skin color. He made jazz “pop” music at the time, because he played his horn like no one else had in the past. This relates to all people. Surpassing people’s expectations and changing the world is not something everyone can do. But if you have passion for something, you need to strive for excellence.
Markham taught me to follow my heart. He followed his and has a career built around music. He loves New Orleans and has found ways to help the city prosper and grow. Markham was very inspiring I am so glad I got to hear him speak.
It’s always said that most musicians are all “hippies” and not very in tune with the intellectual society. Ronald Markham proves this theory to be wrong 1 million times over. His passion for what he does as a musician has caused him to gain an extensive amount of knowledge of his craft, its history, and origins. I could relate as he talked about growing up around church music, and also as he talked about attending NOCCA, which I also am an Alumni! From there he went on to attend college at UNO, where He Met Professor Mayfield. I was surprised by the fact that Ronald earned his actual degree, not in music, but in Engineering! He compared engineering to being a doctor or a lawyer. He says they are all the same in essence, it is a philosophy, a way of thinking. Engineers way of thinking is constant organization and critical thinking. Now, Ronald is the CEO of NOLA Jazz Orchestra and runs both of Irvin Mayfield’s clubs, as well as different positions in many other organizations. I was most interested in the statement he made about New Orleans and its individuality. He said we’re one the only cities that encourage people to be themselves.
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