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Ohio State alumnus Lionel Nowell to encourage ‘You Are Better Than Your Best’ at conference

Courtesy of Lionel Nowell

Though he didn’t always know what he wanted in life, Ohio State alumnus Lionel Nowell knows about success. Now he’s coming back to share his experiences with his former school.

Nowell is scheduled to visit his alma mater as a keynote speaker at the Fifth Annual Ohio Diversity & Leadership Conference 11:40 a.m. Thursday in the Ohio Union’s Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom.

The purpose of the conference “is to give you an opportunity to explore tools and resources to transform diversity awareness into actionable results,” according to its website.

Kera McMiller, coordinator at Ohio Diversity Council, which is organizing the conference, said Nowell “is well-known by the community and qualified for being a keynote speaker.”

Nowell’s speech is slated to focus on how people can enrich their lives through discussion of his self-help book “You Are Better Than Your Best: The Secrets to Achieving a Successful and Happy Life … It All Starts with You,” which was published in May.

In the book, Nowell looks back on his life and shares his experiences with readers, especially college students who are trying to plan out their lives and careers.

“I would say only you can define yourself,” Nowell said. “It’s important to put others aside and to truly ask yourself what you really want to do.”

Nowell said he faced the same problems as most college students, especially those in their first or second years.

“In my first two years at OSU, in order to figure out what I really liked, I tried different classes from accounting and psychology to anthropology,” Nowell said. “In the end, I made a decision to major in business administration.”

After graduating from OSU in 1976, Nowell worked in a slew of financial roles at companies like Pizza Hut, Pillsbury Co. and PepsiCo. He serves as a member on the board of directors of American Electric Power Company in Columbus and Reynolds American, Inc., and also serves on the dean’s advisory board at OSU’s Fisher College of Business.

“In the first several years working at OSU, I got many students inquiring about their careers and other issues about their life,” Nowell said. “At least five years ago, I started to think about writing a book to share my experiences.”

Some students showed interest in reading the book, which is Nowell’s first, because of the experiences he puts in it.

“I really like (hearing) someone sharing their stories about something that they went through,” said Anna Liu, a third-year in finance. “I can take many things from that.”

Nowell also said he encourages students to not limit themselves.

“For most people, fear often pulls them back,” Nowell said. “What they need to do is get out of their comfort zone.”

Regarding failures and obstacles as valuable learning opportunities, Nowell said he advises students to get help from mentors when necessary.

“When you are in hard time, turn to mentors who have already gotten through those problems and be sure to look beyond what you are doing,” Nowell said. “Think about the feelings when you have done it.”

In this book, many different principles are presented clearly, but when linked together, they might give trouble to students.

“This challenges readers to create a strategy they can use to achieve the success and happiness they are seeking,” Nowell said. “Remember, we don’t pursue success and happiness, we create it.”

Proceeds from Nowell’s book exclusively “will be used to help underprivileged kids attend college,” according to the publisher’s website.

Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell is also scheduled to speak at the conference, giving the closing keynote address.

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