Tanner Center Talk: Rich Christiansen

Moral conundrums and living an undivided life: these are the topics that entrepreneur Rich Christiansen spoke about on Dec. 3 in the business building at Southern Utah University. 

Originally from Beaver, Utah, Christiansen has worked as General Manager of the PC Division at Mitsubishi Electric, Product Line Manager at Novell and General Manager of About.com. Additionally, he is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for SUU.

Rich was extremely dedicated to his job, often sleeping under his desk three days a week. 

“I wasn’t the smartest but I was always the hardest working,” said Christiansen. “I was the first one there and the last to leave.”

One of Christiansen’s mentors, Dr. Peter Horne gave him the advice on what truly matters in life and in the business world. 

“You can replace anything in this life, jobs, money, cars, but there are three things you can’t ever replace,” said Dr. Peter Horne, “your health, your trusting relationships, and most importantly you can’t replace your family.”

It was with this advice that he left the corporate world in 2003. 

He paid off his house and had enough money saved up to support his family for a year. Three weeks in he snapped his achilles tendon. He was too impatient and snapped it again. This put him down for six months.

He discovered Google AdSense while in recovery and his work with it was his first real success. Since then he has founded and sold over 17 successful business. 

Rich wanted to demonstrate the idea that moral dilemmas can touch everyone. To do this he made of list containing corporate executives, professional athletes, lawyers, engineers, medical doctors, students, professors and Mother Theresa.

He went through and named examples of the moral conundrums each one faced. His point was that everyone deals with moral conundrums – even Mother Theresa. 

At the end of his presentation he made a list of advice on how to live a more moral and united life.

  1. More than do no harm 
    1. Do good.
    2. Speak with integrity to yourself and others or say nothing at all.
    3. “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”  Dalai Lama
  2. Learn from the mistakes of the past
    1. Don’t throw away conventional wisdom of the past. We have tens of thousands of years of learning.
  3. Seek broad diverse perspectives and skills
    1. When J.F. Roxburgh, the headmaster of the Stowe School in Vermont, was asked about the purpose of his institution he said, it was to shape young men who were “acceptable at a dance, invaluable in a shipwreck.”
  4. Show up as the best version of your authentic self
    1. “Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks, we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.” (Parker Palmer)
  5. Live BIG
    1. Do not be afraid to take risks.

If you would like to attend similar events check the SUU calendar

Story and photos by Morgan Crookston