RICHMOND HILL — For a little bit last week, Stedman Graham was living like his longtime partner.
Graham, best-selling author and chairman and CEO of the Chicago-based management and consulting firm S. Graham and Associates, was in Richmond Hill to be the keynote speaker for the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce annual meeting and dinner banquet.
And the city greeted him warmly, as he said he saw a sign welcoming him.
That gave Graham an opportunity to bring up his famous partner, Oprah Winfrey.
“I’m used to seeing Oprah’s name on signs,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd at the banquet Jan. 21 at the Richmond Hill City Center.
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., introduced Graham, saying he specializes in corporate and education markets and “has dedicated his life to teaching youth.” According to StedmanGraham.com, Graham has taught identity development around the world and created a nine-step success process 15 years ago.
That thread of teaching was evident early in Graham’s speech. Graham talked about how community is everything, something he especially learned while working in Oceanside, California. The program was education-based, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“The community needs to be an ecosystem. It needs to all work together to really, really serve the community,” Graham said.
A strong community is the foundation of learning, he added.
“People don’t just learn because they go to school. People learn because they watch each other. People learn because they watch their mother, and they watch their father, and they watch other people,” Graham said, then telling the audience members, “You’re role models.”
Graham focused much of his speech on the concept of self-mastery and taking care of oneself. Doing that with young people, he said, is especially important in order for them to be able to take care of themselves.
“It’s not how the world defines you; it’s only how you define yourself,” he said.
At the end of his speech, Graham recited a poem about a runner in a race who kept falling down, but continued to get back up and finished last. However, his father told him that he won because he got up each time and kept going.
“All of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all. And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall,” Graham said during his final remarks. “Y’all keep rising.”
Graham’s appearance was sponsored by Gulfstream.