Meet the Author: Guest Interview with Michael D. Johnson

What kind of hosts would we be if we didn't take the time to introduce ourselves? With he publication of his second piece this week, it's now MSL Co-Founder Michael Johnson's turn in the hot seat. Once again, it's time to break the ice with Interview Captain, Brittany MacLeod.


 

Jelly beans are kiiinda your thing and always on your desk. Tell us the meaning behind them and why you always keep a jar of them.

          Aside from having a huge sweet tooth myself, I’ve always found that candy is a great ice breaker. When I first joined the Marist S.G.A., I ran out to Target and picked up a little glass jar to fill with the sweet treats in time for our first meeting. Though I’m more of a chocolate fan, personally, I wanted to find something that 1) wouldn’t make a huge mess and 2) would appease a variety of tastes.

          Seeing as they worked for Ronald Reagan, I decided to give Jelly Belly jelly beans a shot. They were a tremendous hit! More than just a tasty snack, the beans were a quick way to break bread and meet my new peers. They’ve been a part of my meeting routine ever since.


 Michael as Senate Speaker during the 2011-2012 Administration of the Marist S.G.A.

Michael as Senate Speaker during the 2011-2012 Administration of the Marist S.G.A.


If you could have lunch with any well-known person [living or dead], who would it be and why?

          This is a really tough one, because it would depend on what I was hoping to get out of the meeting. Reagan has always been a big role model in my S.G.A. career, so he’s my go-to number one; but I also would have liked to sit down with Robin Williams. While there are so many people (living & dead) that I’d like to chat with and learn from, I feel like lunch is a very special case. You’ve got to have a real Type-A personality to keep the conversation going and help lighten the mood so it doesn’t feel like just another business meeting.


 Michael remains actively involved as a Marist alumnus #RedFoxPride

Michael remains actively involved as a Marist alumnus #RedFoxPride


You describe yourself as shy, but you’ve always had a voice. What was the turning point for you that you decided you would refuse to stay quiet anymore and let your voice be heard?

          I was a really quiet kid all throughout high school; I had a major case of butterflies in the pit of my stomach whenever I’d get up to speak. When I entered my senior year, however, I knew I wanted to make a change in my life. I was tired of sitting on the sidelines, and I saw college as a chance for a fresh start. It wasn’t until I went up to “Accepted Students’ Day”, however, that things finally clicked. After a welcome presentation by the Administration, I found my parents talking to another couple from town. One of them pointed out to their son, who had gathered into a crowd around the College President with a handful of other attendees, and told me “you should get out there, make sure the President knows who you are!”

          The negativity was almost reflexive at that point. I thought to myself, “why would he want to know me?” I was so sick of this mentality, and I knew the only way things were going to change for good was if I set out to make the first move. They may be clichés, but confidence truly is key and perception absolutely shapes reality. I started speaking up because I was done with letting others play the leading role in shaping my own identity. After a while, the rest just became second nature. Nonetheless, it’s a constant growing experience, I’ve never really chased off those pesky butterflies.


 Michael with Marist College President, Dennis J. Murray, at the 2013 Baccalaureate Award Ceremony.

Michael with Marist College President, Dennis J. Murray, at the 2013 Baccalaureate Award Ceremony.


For more from Michael, check out the "Mike's Campaign" category of our blog. You can also catch his latest piece here, and follow him on Twitter @TheMikeDJohnson