We caught up with NIU Foundation Board member, Bill Taylor this past summer to get his thoughts on what makes an NIU education so powerful. He told us about a classmate who understands the value of an NIU experience well, Allan Cox. Here’s what Taylor had to say.
Allan Cox could be a candidate for the “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad. He was educated in sociology, aspired to the ministry, trained as a psychologist, served as a college instructor, joined a leading executive search firm, and authored a business book, all before founding his own consulting firm.
Taylor says he first met Allan in the 1970’s when he was referred to his firm, Deloitte, for tax and financial advice. The two NIU alumni became fast friends and mutual advisors; Taylor shared tax and financial advice, and Cox, in turn, provided readily shared personal growth and career advice. Early in their relationship, Taylor helped put his training and ideas into practice by providing a conference room at Deloitte where a small group of Chicago area executives met each Saturday morning for two months. Taylor joined the group, none of whom he had ever met before. Allan used experimental tools to lead the group in role playing and other exercises to help each member better know themselves and recommend changes that might best serve them. Out of this class grew his successful C-suite consulting practice.
Taylor says he could never truly know what role Allan had in his becoming a senior partner at Deloitte. He muses, “Did his Saturday class lead to my serving some of its most significant clients and being elected to its U.S. and international boards?” What Taylor does know is that when he reflects on his “final report,” from Cox’s Saturday class, which he still keeps in his desk drawer is profound. “I see that I have made most of the recommended changes or otherwise overcome identified obstacles,” he says.
Allan has since become a sought after CEO advisor, speaker, lecturer and author of eleven business books to date. Taylor recalls the day he was walking down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and saw one of Cox’s books displayed prominently in the window of a major bookstore. Adding, “Did I mention he is also a poet with three more published books?”
“What does a left brain like me have in common with a right brain like him? One answer might be that our paths to success both went through Northern Illinois University,” Taylor says. Adding, “NIU has a well-deserved reputation for academic excellence. One of its hallmarks is the hands-on approach of its highly regarded faculty.” Taylor explains that he’s proud to know that today’s students are taught by professors, not by teaching assistants; often by authors of textbooks on the subject.
Taylor adds that he and Cox were taught and mentored by two recognized thought leaders in their respective professions. Don Kieso, author of a leading accounting textbook and former NIU Department of Accountancy Chair, volunteered to be Taylor’s faculty advisor. Cox credits Dr. Ledford (Duke) Bischof, author of a noted Psychology textbook, with both teaching and counseling him at NIU. The two alumni agree that their professors and mentors each played important roles in their chosen careers.
Taylor adds, “Our relationship came full circle when Allan provided advice and introductions to my younger son that helped him move through his dot com start up period to a successful business career.”
Back to the “Most Interesting Man” ad, Allan also introduced me to my favorite cocktail – Rum & Tonic.