Alumnus fuels RU students' confidence for success

Cassaday at COBE

Randi Shaw (left) and Brittany Perry listen to alumnus and entrepreneur Stephan Cassaday by Internet video connection.

From the offices of Cassaday & Co. in McLean, Radford University Board of Visitors member Stephan Cassaday '76 reached out to his alma mater on Tuesday in an inspirational session with more than 50 students as part of the COBE (College of Business and Economics) 150 Speaker Series.

"People who are willing to move out of their comfort zones will be successful," said Cassaday, owner of a wealth management firm that supervises more than $1 billion in assets for its clients and was recently named by Barron's magazine as a top 100 independent financial advisor. "You know you are out of your comfort zone when you get that funny feeling in your tummy."

Cassaday, who also serves on the COBE Advisory Council, cited the entrepreneurial spirit as a hallmark of the Radford experience and pointed out that each student has family friends and associates who can act as "centers of influence" for them as they begin their careers.

"These people can help you if you reach out to them professionally," he said. "They are a conduit to hundreds of prospects and opportunities."

Students listened raptly as Cassaday spoke to them by an Internet video connection. "It gives me great confidence that I can follow his path to success," said Brittany Perry of Virginia Beach, a senior majoring in finance, accounting and management major.

Senior psychology major Randi Shaw of Gloucester added, "It is cool how he had such courage when he started. And now, 37 years later, he is willing to share his story to help us feel more confident."

Cassaday emphasized the ability to listen and learn as a common thread shared by the successful people. "You have to cooperate with that process and then be willing to do things that are uncomfortable over and over, like handle uncertainty and rejection."

After speaking about the current regulatory environment in the financial world and the pros and cons of private ownership, he reflected on the value of his Radford experience and noted that several fellow residents of Draper Hall in his RU days have become multimillionaires. "You are going to be as successful as you want to be, and we are living proof of how successful you can be."

Learn more about Radford University at www.radford.edu.