Episode 18: Dr. Christopher Puto from Spring Hill College

Transcript:

Welcome to podcast episode #18 with Dr. Puto. I can't believe that I'm saying “episode 18” already. It's pretty exciting to me, I didn't know when starting this project whether we were even going to get to episode #3. The fact that we’ve released 18 podcasts, that we've received the draw that we have. And that we also have, I think, another 10 podcast episodes already scheduled that haven't been released yet, this is really awesome!

My name is Marcus Neto. I own Blue Fish Design Studio. We’re a digital marketing and web design company in downtown Mobile. And this podcast is geared towards talking to local entrepreneurs, influencers in the business community, and business owners about business and just some background information about them - who they are, what they like to do, things of that nature. Thank you for spending time with us today. On today's show, I sit down with Dr. Christopher Puto. He is the new President of Spring Hill College and this was an absolutely enjoyable time! He's an extremely educated man and has done quite bit in his career. Everything from coming up with new ways of selling hamburgers for Burger King (he was actually on the sales team that came up with the 'Have it Your Way" campaign, which was a differentiator between Burger King and McDonald's at that time.) He’s lived all over the world, and he travels a hundred thousand miles a year visiting alumni and various people. Just a really enjoyable interview. Without further ado, here is Dr. Christopher Puto.

Today I'm sitting down with Dr. Christopher Puto. Chris (as he encouraged me to call him) is the new President of Spring Hill College, and I'm very excited to sit down with him and hear about some of the exciting things that are going on over there. So, thank you for being on our podcast today.

Dr. Puto: Thank you for having me, Marcus. I'm delighted to do this.

Marcus: We've got actually one of our “partners in crime here”, and we won't mention names (it’s actually team member, Kara Wilbourn), but she has a daughter, a young lady attending your college in the fall semester, so we’re very excited about that. And you know Spring Hill, has a wonderful reputation in the area, so I wanted to just kind of open up by asking you... I know you're coming in as the new President, so what do you foresee as you’re going in? What are some of the things that you’re going to be tasked with coming into the fall semester?

Dr. Puto: I'm the new President, and what's exciting to me about being back... So, I graduated from Spring Hill in 1964, and a lot of people don't realize that or know that I've been here before. And I haven’t been back many times since, but I've been a trustee here at Spring Hill for 9 years. But what's very exciting is that Spring Hill, in less than 15 years, is going to be entering our 3rd century.

Marcus: Wow.

Dr. Puto: There's a strong tradition and a connection to Mobile and this region that is unbelievably powerful. And one of my objectives is to sustain our growth into that 3rd century, but also to make sure that we have connected strongly with our heritage, which is Mobile and this Gulf Coast Region.  

Marcus: It's pretty impressive to think of a college being around that long. Now I know that you also have a history with some other Universities, Colleges, up and down the, mostly the, east coast, is that correct?

Dr. Puto: Well, yes and no. I've been all over the country; you’d think I couldn't hold a job. (laughter) But I've...

Marcus: That's great.

Dr. Puto: ...I've been on the faculties at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and then I moved west to Tucson, Arizona, where for ten years, I was a professor and Associate Dean in the business school at the University of Arizona. And then I moved, finally, to the east coast to Georgetown.

Marcus: Well that's the one that I was hoping you’d get to. Because I'm actually from the Washington, DC, area.

Dr. Puto: Alright, yup.

Marcus: So my parents lived in north west, up near the cathedral.

Dr. Puto. Okay. 

Marcus: And so you know, I'm very fond of that area, call it somewhat home. I mean that's my home, up until about 10 or 11 years ago.

Dr. Puto: What’s very interesting is I lived in Georgetown, right, the community. And there's a lot of history there. And when you think about these types of things like history, Georgetown, was started in 1789, the college and the community, the old buildings. You come down to Mobile and we were started in 1830. There are buildings and architecture that's here, same thing with New Orleans, but we think this is much more special here in Mobile.

Marcus: Yeah. Now it is a beautiful college, I've actually done some photography and the chapel there and was very impressed. Now I will admit, I've not gone around campus to see, because my kids are a little bit young to be doing that. I don't have a normal excuse to just be wandering around campus but I...

Dr. Puto: That time will come, Marcus, I would be ready. Don't worry.

Marcus: Yeah, It will be here before I know it. But, so tell us a little bit more about yourself. I mean obviously you joke about you would think that you wouldn't be able to hold a job, but you know reading your bio, I see that you have not just professorial duties as part of your resume, but you have also done quite a bit in the business world, in marketing and strategy, in advertising and things of that nature, as well. So give us some background on that.

Dr. Puto: Thank you, yes. I do have a very broad background. I spent my early business career at Burger King Corporation.

Marcus: Nice.

Dr. Puto: I helped designed the strategy behind the original "Have it Your Way” campaign. Some of the audience may remember this the little jingle "hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us". I didn't do that, but what I did was developed the strategy. We were competing with a very fine organization called McDonald’s; they were much bigger than Burger King was. And we have to determine how can we go out in a marketplace and offer something that they really couldn't do. And what McDonald's struggled with was making a special hamburger, if you didn't want pickles or onion or mustard or ketchup, it was a problem because there production process is batch oriented. Burger King had an assembly line.

Marcus: Right.

Dr. Puto: And so it was just as easy to leave the onions off a Whopper as it was to put it on. So that was an operational expertise, an advantage that we had. And we then found out that the marketplace wanted to not feel mass produced. 

Marcus: There was demand for that.

Dr. Puto: Yes, and so that's when we came up with the idea, let’s emphasis our ability to make a special Whopper as fast we can make a regular Whopper. 

Marcus: Wow, that's cool.

Dr. Puto: And so that happened, and it was big success we became very strong - second largest hamburger chain. And then I retired, I lived in Innsbruck, Austria for about 18 months. And for a young guy who grew up in the Florida Keys, moving in Insbruck, was a big deal, because I never seen snow, I learned to snow ski on the men's Olympic downhill (course).

Marcus: Wow.

Dr. Puto: And that was great fun. I forget when Franz Klammer won the gold medal there, but he did it in a minute and some seconds, 50 seconds or whatever. I did it in an hour and 55 minutes, but it was the same. (laughter)

Marcus: Yeah.

Dr. Puto: And I also, interestingly enough, have a lot of entrepreneurship in my family. So my grandfather was a Florida real estate developer, down in the Keys. And my father and mother ran a variety of businesses - auto parts and hotel and restaurant activities. So I understand what it's like both to be a "big business person”, such a Burger King, a subsidiary of Pillsbury, and an entrepreneur, such as when you’re starting out. And that's been very helpful to me as a professor and as a business Dean, because we find we’re educating young women and men to be business leaders. And my experienced there helped me a great deal. 

Marcus: Well I've you know I will admit, I have and I think I've mentioned this to you a minute ago, that I have this real interest in business. I actually went to James Madison University. I went in to study music and decided I didn't want to be a teacher and ultimately ended up with an English degree. My wife graduated as the class valedictorian of JMU's Business School, with a marketing concentration. And then she did CIS as her minor, and I've for the longest time I've been jealous of her because my business deals quite a bit with understanding other business owners. But I think in my mind I always because the program JMU was very focused on larger business-type problems. You know it's interesting for me to hear you say that you like the idea of  having a business degree that focuses not just on those larger issues but also one that issues that a smaller entrepreneur would find. Because I think the constraints are different, right?

Dr. Puto: Right. They really are. And I think we forget that companies like Microsoft and Best Buy and numerous others, started as entrepreneurial ventures with one or two entrepreneurs having a vision. And then they grew into these giant corporations, they didn't just hatch and become giants corporations. And so to get a business started and then to help it grow and then allow to prosper, it’s a big process. And if we don't start enough businesses we’re gonna run out of big ones at some point.

Marcus:Well there's a lot of truth to that for sure. You know it is a just because you got big it’s not a guarantee that you will stay big.

Dr. Puto: We've seen a lot of that.

Marcus: Actually, I got a book that I've been reading through called Small Giants and I mentioned it on the podcast before. But I don't know if you’re familiar, but the premise is that there are businesses that have just decided that we're going to stay at a certain size. Because that is where you know we’re comfortable as far as keeping our profit margins healthy and maintaining our connection with the employees and soon and so forth. And it's been really kind of a mind shift because I think in business often times there's this mind set of grow, grow, grow, grow, grow and that's not always healthy either.

Dr. Puto: You're right. Growth for the sake of growth can be dangerous because you get unwieldy and you actually implode if you get too big too fast. The risk in focusing on small is that there can be a cap on revenues and everything else and again that depends on the marketplace, it depends on the competition, and it depends on the individual entrepreneur and what they really want out of their business.

Marcus: Absolutely. So you have, help me because I'm trying to remember from you have a marketing degree, Business Economics?

Dr. Puto: Yes. When I graduated from Spring Hill, I was an Economics major. And I, I'm not sure, it was a few years ago as you can imagine, and I wasn't sure what one did with an Economics degree. But it gave me a college degree and I took ROTC, and so I had a job when I got out of college. I was the 1st lieutenant, or 2nd lieutenant, but I then got my master's degree right away and so when I went on active duty 2 years later, I was a 1st lieutenant. That's when I studied marketing, my master's degree. But then I have an eclectic background, so people don't often notice, but my time in the military I started out as a systems analyst.

Marcus: Nice.

Dr. Puto: Worked on one of the most sophisticated non-strategic procurement systems in the world that the Army had in purchasing aircraft and aircraft parts for the Army, not the Air Force.

Marcus: Sure.

Dr. Puto: And my first job at Burger King was not in marketing, it was as a systems analyst. And I was writing a major system for one of their subsidiaries and the sales manager at the time asked me what my background was, and I told them it was marketing and he say "Well you should be working for me". And I...

Marcus: Sure.

Dr. Puto: ...I said “I don't think you can afford me” and he ask me how much I was making as a systems analyst and I told him, he says "I can make you my assistant for another 3 thousand dollars a year more than that, if you’re interested". And I said "Sure". And two weeks later I was assistant sales manager.

Marcus: Nice.

Dr. Puto: And then a year later there was a change in personnel and he, for variety of reasons, was terminated. And the vice president called me in and said that "We're not doing a search, you're the new sales manager".

Marcus: Wow.

Dr. Puto: And I was 28 years old and here I was, a national sales manager. So you have to look for opportunity and you have to be open to it. I think that's the most important thing. It wasn't part of a master plan, it was just there.

Marcus: Opportunity seized. So as a business-minded individual and entrepreneur, an executive level business person, what's the one most important thing that you've learned as far as business goes?

Dr. Puto: You just want one. Do you Marcus?

Marcus: Ah, if you got two will take two, it's a 30 minutes podcast so.

Dr. Puto: The most important thing is to identify a genuine need in the market place and then develop a better solution to that need than exist now at fair and reasonable price. And if you can do that and make the market aware of that solution, you'll be successful. And that's so identify a real need, develop a real solution, make sure the market knows about it and I think it's hard to beat.

Marcus: What do you think about the, the new mindset of not bothering with existing ideas and I may not be asking that the right way. But just think about, there seems to be a lot of talk in our industry of wanting to come up with a new idea. Because then you’re solving a new problem and you don't have any competition and there's this hole like if you read the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing or something I forget what the exact title is. They talk about you know being first to market is one of the most important things that you can do. Does that matter? Or is it just being better at that idea?

Dr. Puto: That's a new version of a very old approach, believe it or not. If Im understanding it correct. So you may have heard even your parents or grandparents say "build a better mousetrap and the world will be the path to your door". That's a very famous saying. But there's a piece to that, that people don't understand. That will only happen if the world has a rodent problem and if they know about your mouse trap. Alright. So just there are warehouses full of something that some inventor thought was better. Software packages that some software engineer thought was better than anything else, and it didn't solve a real problem and as a result it's sitting in the software developers disk drive not doing anything.

Marcus: Yeah, the streets of Silicon Valley are littered with good ideas that didn't have a real problem or good marketing plan.

Dr. Puto: Yeah, yes. So that's the caveat that I would put on that. Just find something out that nobody else has done and say “I'm going to do this” and as long as that excites you and you have other ways to make money, that’s fine. But if you really wanna be a successful business, you’ve got to solve a real problem out there. Now here's the kicker though.. that may where this may fit. It's not obvious that people always know what their problem was. So let's take for example, Facebook, alright it's doing this reasonably well and I think is Zuckerberg has got enough money to pay for his whatever. And I don't think if you asked anybody do have a need to connect with people better than your connecting now, better than postcards and better than telephones and all these things that any of them would answer that question as survey "Sure that's what I need". So he and his college roommates had this, they had this need and so they designed this system and then there friends saw it and said "Let us try it". And all of sudden people realized...

Marcus: Created the need.

Dr. Puto: Everyone has this need. But they didn't know it and so that maybe where the book you've mentioned is coming from.

Marcus: Oh think they example that I would give to tie it into some of your experiences that McDonald's already existed, Burger King still made a heck of a lot of money. I know at some point because my father actually worked, he was a manager of one of the restaurants back when I was really little. So I know that they sometimes flip flop as far as who is number 1. There was still a heck of a lot of money to be made in being number 2.

Dr. Puto: Oh sure.

Marcus: Right? And so and the need that you identified earlier wasn't necessarily the need for a cheeseburger or a Whopper fast. The need was, not wanting to feel like...

Dr. Puto: I’m mass produced.

Marcus: ...Like I’m mass produced. And so you know I am getting this my way.

Dr. Puto: Right.

Marcus: Right. So it’s just a slight twist and you're still making a lot money, versus this focus that I think a lot people get hung up on. Well I have to not just create something you know better than what already exists, I have to create something that’s completely new that you know nobody realizes that they need and then build that up.

Dr. Puto: Provided that they actually do need even if they don't realize it. And one of the things that you hit on in your example that Burger King and McDonald's is a fundamental piece that sometimes goes unrecognized and it's a concept we call “market segmentation”. And market segmentation is to marketing, the way debits and credits are to accounting. If you don't understand debits and credits you're not gonna be a very good accountant. And if you don't understand market segmentation, the odds are you won't be a very good marketer and it's very simple : there within a giant population there are sub-groups that have different needs so you gave an example of the lunch eating, or hamburger eating, population. And there are millions of people that all they want is fast, "I want it right now, and I want it hot and ready to go" and if whatever it’s got on it, is gonna be fine with me that's a segment. There's another segment that says "No I don't wanna feel mass produced and I don't like onions. And, I still don't want to wait around. So, that's a different group and...

Marcus: That's fantastic.

Dr. Puto: ...and I think it goes with what you're talking about.

Marcus: And I guess the business's job is to position themselves towards whichever group it is that they're trying to…

Dr. Puto: Yes! And to be able to do that better than the competition. That's the other piece that you have to think about

Marcus: Folks, we're getting Marketing 101 here with...

Dr. Puto: You know it's basic but it does make a difference.

Marcus: ...but that's important, extremely important, because I can't tell you even in our own because we didn't deal with a lot of new businesses and startups and stuff like that, but we also deal with a lot of people that have been around for a long time and it's amazing to me. A lot of times people just don't-- You talk to them about, well, who are you positioning yourself to, what's your demographics, what are you trying to accomplish, and really sometimes they don't have any idea.

Dr. Puto: You're right. And in the, in my current field here in Mobile as a president at Spring Hill College, there are three four-year institutions right here in Mobile. There is University of South Alabama. There's University of Mobile and there's Spring Hill College. Believe it or not, when I started as a freshman, the other two didn't exist. They came into being during my junior and senior year.

Marcus: Wow.

Dr. Puto: But that said, each of these three, and they're all very fine institutions, alright, so there's not a question about that. Each one on this is high caliber and high quality, but they appeal to different groups of students. And so, even at this level and when you think of an academic enterprise, it too has an audience. It has a market that it's appealing to. And they're different, all three of them. I use my profession all the time in this job.

Marcus: So tell me, if there was a book or two, again just not in there, if there was a book or two that you were to suggest an entrepreneur to read, what would that be?

Dr. Puto: Wow. 

Marcus: And I'm going to get my pen out and write.

Dr. Puto: I'm not sure I can pull one out of my head that would be the ideal one, and let me explain why it gets a little bit complicated...

Marcus: Sure.

Dr. Puto: There are, I don't know if there's a million, but there are thousands of books out there. Probably none of them are bad, but finding one that really resonates with the reader is the key. And so, what I would suggest, first of all is look in your industry and see if there are any founders who've written a story about their company and how it got started. Understand that some of these are going to be aggrandizing of how great the founder is and things like that, but in each case, you will start to see a pattern of nuggets of information. And what you will be able to identify is that each founder started with an idea that they were convinced was going to solve whatever was out there that the need, they were going to solve. And yet, they then adapted. None of them are exactly the same as when they started and that's what you'll see after you look at a couple of these books. But, I'd look at, I'm trying to think if there's an exact book I can throw the name at you, and I don't have one off the tip of my tongue.

Marcus: That's fine. Yeah, I know. Very good advice though on looking up... Because I know there was a few as even in the tech industry, there's been a few that I've found interesting, at least. There's one that was written about a guy's time working for Automatic, which are the makers of WordPress, which is the most widely used content management system in the world. And then, there's another one, "I'm Feeling Lucky: Confessions of Google Employee No. 59", or something along those lines, which is the story of a gentleman who, maybe it wasn't No. 37. Anyway, he was an employee at Facebook when, early starters of Facebook (Marcus actually meant Google, not Facebook!). But, both very good books especially for me, somebody in the tech industry that wants to understand how things kind of operate in those types of organization. So, I get what you're saying.

Dr. Puto: Let me give you a suggestion now that I've had a chance to ruminate a little bit. It's not a book about starting a business, but it's called, the name of the book is called Leadership and the Art of Struggle and it's by a guy named Steven Snyder. And what he did, firstly his career was pretty good. He's one of the, not one of the founders but he was a pretty early employee of Microsoft, and he had the IBM account when they were doing DOS and those types of things. He had that relationship and then he, I think he had a little stock and things like that he's gone on, but he has interviewed several both corporate leaders and entrepreneurs. And, he talks about what they learned about how they ran their business. And so, I would suggest this. It's probably on Amazon in paperback or even, I don't know if it's Kindle yet. But, that would be it, and where I was going to go when you mentioned this was, we had the good fortune when I lived in Minneapolis of having Bill Gates speak at our school. We dedicated a business and Bill Gates has an honorary degree from one of my schools which we gave him. And, this is what I found interesting, he talked about, when they found, he and Paul Allen, founded Microsoft and they had a philo-- Somebody asked them, "What did you learn from this? What would you do differently or what was your big learning?" And who knows what it really was, but he said this is one thing he took away. He and Paul had to believe that nobody at Microsoft should ever work for somebody who wasn't smarter than they were. So, the smartest person had to be the highest up. And he always-- And he said, "We realized after a while that there are different kinds of smarts and so it's not raw intelligence at all. It's an understanding of what it is that needs to be done and how to do it and we changed our entire philosophy at Microsoft on that."

Marcus: That's interesting.

Dr. Puto: And, I found that to be-- I don't think it's in a book anywhere, but I found that to be pretty savvy insight because Gates is a-- He's a very smart guy.

Marcus: Yeah. I mean, that's an understatement. Say what you will about Windows or you can kind of go down that same path with Google because I know that they hire extremely intelligent-- I mean, all these groups are hiring the best and the brightest but that's very keen insight. You're right that there are, there's always going to be gaps in your intelligence because you can really, you're focusing in on specific areas of expertise, right?

Dr. Puto: Nobody can know everything.

Marcus: Right. And so, it's either hiring or aligning yourself with other people that fill in those gaps. I think as a leader oftentimes, in the past, we've been taught to work on our weaknesses and the story or the advice that we seem to have gotten over the last 10 or 15 years is not to work on our weaknesses, but rather to focus on our strengths and bring other people along with our weaknesses to help bolster and increase the capacity of the organization. 

Dr. Puto: This will sound unbelievably trite and it's nothing new, but I will tell you that the most successful people know what they don't know. And, they then balance that out. Look at just about anybody who's made a lot of success. I've been lucky to be around several entrepreneurs. Dick Schulze, the founder of Best Buy. He never went to college, and he started best buy wasn't best buy, it was the three little high-fly shops in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Marcus: The Sound of Music was the name of the cultural song?

Dr. Puto: That's the name of it. And they were relatively happy and then they built one big store, and they had a tornado that came through and just destroyed the building, virtually. And, they had a tornado sale. And, that's when they learned about volume. And, now they have, I don't know, how many stores, a thousand maybe? They're all over the place and it's a 50 billion dollar year business and it started out as three high fly shops. By a guy who-- And here's the only thing about Dick Schulze - his philosophy is that the people in the store, what he calls the blue shirts are the lifeblood of that organization, and their ability to understand and solve problems is what he wants. Now, contrast that with Walmart, started by Sam Walton who had an entirely different philosophy which was the interstate highway system is what made Walmart what it is. He found out that if you can locate a store within easy driving distance of three different communities because you were connected by the interstate, you could have three times the business and you didn't have to be in these little small towns. And, that's how he started, and then they developed the greatest logistics system in the world, in terms of buying and transportation. They're huge.

Marcus: Yeah, there's second to none, that's for sure.

Dr. Puto: Absolutely. But that's a different approach than Best Buy, which is the young person on the floor is the eyes, and ears and voice of your company. It's very interesting.

Marcus: Now, it is. So, I find that many business owners, entrepreneurs are extremely focused, laser focused on their businesses, but they also have things that they enjoy in their off time that keeps them balanced. So, do you have hobbies or what do you like to do with your free time?

Dr. Puto: Well, I grew up in an island in the Florida Keys called Marathon. I love...

Marcus: I was just there. I love it.

Dr. Puto: Were you in Marathon? 

Marcus: Yeah.

Dr. Puto: I love the water. My grandfather developed the city at Key Colony Beach, which is right adjacent to Marathon. I'm not so much a fisherman anymore. When I was younger, I did a lot of fishing but now, I just love the water, and I love to be on the golf course. I'm a terrible golfer, but it's just I'm not playing against anybody else, I'm playing against myself.

Marcus: I think golf is a game that you can play for a lifetime and never truly master.

Dr. Puto: Absolutely. Absolutely. But, it's unbelievably seductive and it drives you back in all the time.

Marcus: Absolutely. 

Dr. Puto: So, I like to play golf. It's a real struggle being at Spring Hill since we have our own golf course on campus. I like to be out in the water. I do a fair-- my jobs over the last 10 or 15 years have involved a lot of travel, so I end up doing pretty close to 100, 000 miles a year visiting alumni, visiting prospective students, every place I've ever been. And so, I enjoy that, although traveling gets old, especially  with all the security and things like that but I love... Last summer, I spent two weeks in Austria and there was great fun. I just enjoyed it.

Marcus: I wasn't planning on asking this but I have to ask it now. Of all the cities that you've been to, what's one that you, that bubbles up to the top as one of your favorites.

Dr. Puto: Two bubble up, alright. And, they're in the same country. The most charming and interesting big city to me, and I've been New York and I've been Chicago and L.A. and San Francisco, is Vienna (Austria). The history and the art and everything about, and the food, everything about that...

Marcus: -- and culture, yeah.

Dr. Puto: … is just fabulous. But, right there with it, as I would argue the most delightful small city in the world is Salzburg.

Marcus: Interesting.

Dr. Puto: It's absolutely a spectacular place. It's in a beautiful setting in the lake's region in the mountains of Austria. So, those are my two, my two favorites. I don't really dislike-- I've been fortunate - London, Rome, you name it, I've been around quite a few of them, Paris; but, I like those two.

Marcus: Now, it's interesting. I have not, well, I've only been to Netherlands. I spoke at a conference in Lydon and then spent a couple of days in Amsterdam with my wife and we enjoyed that much for the many reasons that you're mentioning, which are, the culture is very rich there. There's centuries of culture versus just tons of... Anyway, so it was a very good experience for us, but I've not been able to get back and that's one of the things that's on my list of things to do, is to get back and do some more traveling around Europe. So, give us a look at an average day for you. What does that look like? Do you wake up at a certain time? Do you have certain things that you like to do every morning? And so on?

Dr. Puto: Well, yes. I suspect that's the case. I understand that I'm roughly 60 days into living in Mobile.

Marcus: Sure.

Dr. Puto: And, I'm currently renting an apartment, as opposed to my own house. If anyone in your listening audience is interested in buying a beautiful house in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I can arrange something very special. But-- So, I also have a small… I'm a widower… and a small dog that was my wife's, late wife's dog. He's a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with the big, floppy ears and the brown and white spots.

Marcus: Cute.

Dr. Puto: He's a sweetheart. He's 12 years old. So, to answer your question. When we get up in the morning, he's going to go outside. So, the first thing is walk the dog, then the next thing is feed the dog and feed me, and then get ready for the office. And so, I try to get in the office as close to 8 o'clock as I can after having walked the dog and everything. And then, we're still developing in my, in this current job, a routine. So, there are many people that work for me and we have regular meetings so, the president of a University, of a College or University, is very much like a musical conductor. You don't play any of the instruments. I don't teach any classes or do anything, I have but I don't here, but I have to coordinate the activities of everyone who does. And so, I've many, many, many meetings. And then, when you think about it, we have just unbelievable numbers of constituents. So, we have students, we have parents, we have alumni, we have business leaders, we have community leaders. Usually, at some point, everyone wants to interact with the College leader, which is the President. So, my day is filled quite a bit with meetings and occasionally a speech or two. Sometimes, I get to do a podcast. It all fits in.

Marcus: We're extremely thankful. We realize that you have a fairly busy day, so we're extremely thankful.

Dr. Puto: And, on top of that, the alumni are… We have alumni in all 50 states and 40 countries, from little, old Spring Hill. And so, they're proud of their school, but they want to know what's going on. So, a lot of that involves me reaching out to them, sometimes, physically. And so, I do a fair amount of traveling still even here. 

Marcus: Wow. I did not realize that there was that much involved in making sure the people are feeling like they're still engaged for the head of a university or college. 

Dr. Puto: It's important. When you think about it, the alumni, for the rest of their lives, are the college when they're out and about. If they are happy and proud and enjoyed their experience, that's how we get new students into our community. And if they're not happy, we need to figure out what was going on and what caused it.

Marcus: That's word-of-mouth marketing at its finest.

Dr. Puto: Pretty much.

Marcus: You're increasing their capacity to want to talk about you all, and I would imagine that converts pretty highly.

Dr. Puto: It does. It resonates well. 

Marcus: Yeah.

Dr. Puto: Where with you too, when your kids get older.

Marcus: I would imagine so. I have no idea where they're going to want to go or if they'll even be able to afford to go at that point in time, but I'm looking forward to that day, not that I want them… that sounds bad...

Dr. Puto: Sounds like you want them gone?

Marcus: That's like I want them gone but that's not it. It's just that I'm very proud of my boys.

Dr. Puto: You want them to enjoy the next stage in their lives, that’s what you really want.

Marcus: Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. Tell us where people can find out more about Spring Hill and if they have children that are interested in maybe attending, what should they do?

Dr. Puto: Thanks for letting me do that. First of all, we have a wonderful web presence, www.shc.edu.

Marcus: that's easy. 

Dr. Puto: And if that doesn't work, Google Spring Hill College and our website will pop up. And, on the website, there are... first of all, it's a very good website, you get to see what a beautiful campus we have. People don't realize what a treasure our campus is. And we offer campus tours for prospective students everyday, morning and afternoon. We organize the tours of the campus and all of that's right on the website. And we're on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram, and...

Marcus: All the things. Yes.

Dr. Puto: If they're interested, they can even get on YouTube and type in Spring Hill College and you'll see productions that some of our students have done. So, we're out there, but we're also a very physical, real entity, and we would love to have people come and explore our campus. 

Marcus: Well, very good. Well, I want to say thank you very much again for making time to come down and talk to us. It's been a pleasure to get to know you and hear more about what's going on at Spring Hill. So, any final thoughts to wrap up anything else that you'd want to share.

Dr. Puto: Marcus, it's been an equal pleasure for me, first of all. And, second, I am truly delighted to be back in this part of the country and in Mobile, Alabama. There is something about the nature of the people here that make you feel genuinely welcome. And I've lived in a lot of parts of this country where that's not the case. And so, I'm looking forward to many years and some day maybe they'll look at me and say I'm a real Mobilian, we'll see.

Marcus: I do appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey. It was great talking with you.

Dr. Puto: Thank you very much.