This book has been 53 years in the making. It spans three generations. It is based partly on the writings and teachings of Durward W. Owen, my first boss and mentor. He wrote the Foreword and his biography is included in the back of this book. I learned the qualities and behaviors of a true professional from him. He taught them to thousands of college students. He practiced them himself and perfected them over many years. He insisted every person who work for him do the same. He always said, “It’s just as easy to form good habits as it is to form bad habits.”

Durward developed the first set of professional qualities based upon his observations of successful people. Over the course of his esteemed career, he crafted them as a series of anecdotes and gave talks on professionalism all around the country. He swore by these qualities. In some respects, they became the guiding principles of his life.

After learning the qualities from Durward, I practiced them in my career over a 35-year period. I am living proof of how well they work. I know hundreds of amazingly successful people who also learned these qualities from Durward and practiced them to advance their careers. They also swear by them and stand as living testaments to their veracity.

In the Foreword, Durward wrote, ”Others must determine how well I succeeded.” I can unequivocally testify that he succeeded well beyond his expectations. He taught an entire generation of young people how to become professionals. Many of those to whom he imparted his teachings also succeeded well beyond their own expectations. I am fortunate to be one of those people.

I digested these qualities as if they were a secret formula. They gave me confidence and superhuman strength. When I left the employ of others to start my own company, these qualities and behaviors guided me to success. They helped me to attract investors, hire the best people, and win over customers. They can do the same for you whether you work for an organization or work for yourself. It’s now my duty to pass them along to you, the next generation of aspiring professionals.

It is with humility and gratitude that I dedicate this book to Durward W. Owen and thank him for helping all of us to become better versions of ourselves.

Michael O’Donnell