Shortly before 8 a.m. on Friday, Mike Jaroch walked into Mundelein High School and looked around at his surroundings in awe. A member of the school’s first graduating class in 1962, he couldn’t believe he was finally back at MHS to speak to students.
“It’s unreal to be back here 60 years after graduation,” he said. “It was here, in this building, at this place, that I began to come to life as a person.”
Jaroch, a successful business executive and author of the book “Extraordinary Lessons from an Ordinary Life,” traveled from his home in suburban Denver to speak to students studying personal finance, business incubator, honors English, sports and entertainment marketing, speech and internship. The program, which included seven half-hour talks, was coordinated by District 120 Community Business Coordinator Rosangela Fiore.
“My objective is very simple. I just want to be added to the list that they have of family, friends and teachers who want nothing more than for them to be a successful person and to have a happy, joyful life,” he said. “I think I have some important messages for these kids and I want to help them.”
Jaroch peppered his messages with concise bites of wisdom learned from a long career, starting at a picture frame factory in Mundelein. His comments were positive, simple and brief.
“Get involved,” he told students. “Coming out of your shell is so important.
“Money equals choices. It’s important to pay yourself first. Think about the choices and freedoms financial independence will give you someday.
“When things aren’t going your way - they are. People all get knocked down. The differentiator is the person who gets up, dusts themselves off and keeps moving on.”
Jaroch said he learned many of these lessons early on in life, and used many of them to build his career. After earning a Bachelor of Science Degree from Northern Illinois University and a Masters in Business Administration from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, he spent more than 40 years as a strategic tactician in human resources management. He held executive level positions for both Fortune 50 and startup business ventures before beginning his own consulting practice.
Along the way, he kept a written list of the lessons he learned and eventually published a book based on those lessons. The chapters of the book are some of the same brief words of advice he shared with students: “Go to the pain;” “begin at the end;” and “you are what you think about.”
Throughout the day, Jaroch was thinking about his connection to the students at Mundelein High School. He had returned to his roots and had come full circle in his journey.