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Edward P. Kinsey, II
Lourdes College
Commencement Address
May 16, 2009, SeaGate Center, Toledo, Ohio

President Hellmer, Members of the Board of Trustees, Members of the Faculty, proud
parents, grandparents, spouses, friends and, above all, graduates. I thank you for the
honor of being invited to be a part of the 51st commencement of Lourdes College.
Graduates, as I’ve been briefed by President Hellmer and Sister La Point about the
collective accomplishments of the Class of 2009, and particularly the hurdles that some
of you have overcome, I’m humbled to be here with you on a day that marks your great
accomplishments. You have all demonstrated great leadership in your paths to
Over the years, as I’ve come to know various people in the Lourdes community, I’ve
been particularly impressed with the programs that Lourdes offers for people affected by
learning disabilities. This is an area that is very near and dear to my heart for a number
of reasons, as you’ll understand from my comments. I’ve had the opportunity to see
many learning disability programs in various high schools and a few universities in
California. In comparison, Lourdes is one of the best programs that I’ve observed.
Those of you who have used this resource know how much it’s helped you.
Today, I want to talk about simple elements that are at the base of success in life;
1. Determination
2. Choice
3. Faith
These are things that I’ve found from my life experiences and observations to be
Just three simple things; that’s it.

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Henry Van Dyke may have described determination best when he said; “Some succeed
because they are destined but most succeed because they are determined”.
More than anything, determination has defined the way that I’ve lived life. In my
business career I discovered that I seemed to be more focused on achieving the end
result of what I was engaged in than most people around me and I developed a
personal mantra; if I can’t outthink ‘em, I can always out work ‘em...
In a more general sense what that meant to me is I should believe in my dreams and in
myself and that no matter how many challenges that I face, I should never, never give
My first lesson in determination came from an experience in high school. It was a crisp
clear fall day in October 1973. I was a senior at Clay High School on the east side of
Toledo. I made an appointment to see my high school counselor, who I’ll call “Mr.
Smith”. As a senior, one of Mr. Smith’s jobs was to counsel me about college
admission. I’ll never forget the meeting. I sat in Mr. Smith’s office and discussed my
desire to attend college and my unfamiliarity with the process. I mentioned my interest
in specific schools and that I wanted to study business. I talked for a long time about
my dreams and my goals.
When I was finished talking Mr. Smith sat back in his chair and remained silent for a
long time. He stared at me with no expression. And then he leaned forward and told
me that “I was not college material and would not get accepted, let alone graduate from
any college”
Then he said nothing.
I was shocked. College was always in my plans. In an instant, my world had been
changed and my confidence had been shattered.
What I didn’t know at the time, but learned as I watched my oldest daughter Katie
advance through elementary school and into high school and college, was that I was
visual learner. My mind learned things best using images, graphics and visualizations
to organize information and communicate with others. I was one of the 25% of males
who have what we call today “learning disabilities”.
At the time that I was in elementary school and high school the school systems didn’t
have the understanding and knowledge that they have today. Learning disability
accommodations didn’t exist. You were either “smart” or...well, “not smart”. Those with
less than perfect grades were directed to vocational programs. As a visual learner I
wasn’t structured to learn using the teaching methods that were being used and, as a
“C” average student I didn’t qualify as one of the “smart” ones. I certainly didn’t garner
the confidence or support of Mr. Smith.
When you look back over time, my situation enjoyed good company; Albert Einstein,
Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Walt
Disney and George Washington all had learning disabilities. Even today, in my industry;
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technology, leaders like Cisco CEO John Chambers and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had
learning disabilities. Apple Computer founder and CEO Steve Jobs was a visual
learner. It’s one of the reasons why he is such as great product visionary and a master
at user interface design.
Albert Einstein was no “Einstein” as a youth. He had language impairments and his
teachers recommended that he attend trade school. His parents didn’t listen and he
was moved to a school that de-emphasized rote memorization and focused more on
creative thinking and hands-on learning. The school that Einstein attended was one of
the first to understand that everyone is intelligent but that there are different learning
styles. Each learning style captures information in different ways but all result in an
intelligent mind filled with knowledge.
Every time I think of that meeting with Mr. Smith I wonder how many times in a day, then
and now, that students are made to feel less than what they are because schools and
teachers don’t understand the situation. It takes their confidence away.
Imagine if Einstein had listened to his teachers!
I didn’t listen to Mr. Smith.
How dare any Mr. Smith in the world tell anyone what they are capable of achieving. It
would just be their opinion and nothing else.
I can’t predict how much success that each of you will have in your careers and your
lives but I can absolutely guarantee you that you’re going to experience people telling
you what you can’t do. You’ll each have your own “Mr. Smith’s”. You can’t control what
people think about you or how they evaluate or judge you; but you can control what
YOU do about it or how YOU react to it.
When you do encounter Mr. Smiths you have a simple choice really; do you believe
them or do you ignore them?
I say ignore them!
Each of us knows our drive and determination better than anyone else. We know how
much we’re willing to dedicate to what we want to achieve. If your determination
overpowers you, you’ll develop a fondness for taking on a project, task or mission that’s
“impossible”. Before anything has been invented, developed or organized it was
previously not possible.
For me, a great example of this fact is the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk. When he first
flew, Wilbur Wright didn’t have a pilots license. If Wilbur had listened to his “Mr. Smith”,
I would have traveled to Toledo on horseback.
Ignore them who tell you that you can’t. Understand that as someone who can visualize
something that hasn’t been achieved before; you are gifted. Focus your mind and your
efforts on the determined accomplishment of all that you know you can achieve and
don’t waste one minute thinking about those who tell you that you can’t. Trivialize them.
Muhammad Ali once said; “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20
has wasted 30 years of his life”. I’m 51 and I can tell you that you will view things
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differently as you grow into more life experiences. What shouldn’t change, however, is
how you view success. It’s important for each of you to understand what you view and
value as success.
Define your success now. Really reflect on what you think is important and what will
satisfy you as you advance in your life and your career. If you don’t have a plan and
definition of what you want to achieve and where you want to go you’ll likely get
As David Brent, the fictional office manager character from the BBC version of the
television show “The Office” once said; “some days you’re the pigeon and some days
you’re the statue”.
Be prepared because the one thing that is absolutely certain and the second thing that I
can guarantee you in your life is you’re going to experience some failure and setbacks.
It’s one of the symptoms of having a plan for success. When they happen take a
moment and reflect on what you learned from the situation. Whether it was your
mistake or something outside of your control doesn’t matter, there is always something
that can be learned.
Those moments can be epiphany moments because when you objectively reflect on
what happened you have the greatest learning experiences of your life and will have
some of the best moments of your career.
The next step is the most important; just stand up from the set-back, brush the dust off
your pants and move forward. Your future success trivializes your past failures and
I mentioned the determination of Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs so it’s fitting that I
leave the topic of determination with one of my favorite quotes from Steve;
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by
dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of
other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage
to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to
become. Everything else is secondary.” - Steve Jobs

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Mention the word “choice” and for most people, it brings to mind the pro-choice/pro-life
debate. Well, I’ll leave that commencement controversy and debate to Notre Dame for
The choice that I refer to is a more general one; choices in your personal and
professional lives. Choice is perhaps the biggest challenge that your generation will
face. Choices will confront you regarding career decisions, personal life decisions and
community decisions such as voting.
In the last 20 years, the amount of information available for personal, professional and
community decisions has advanced to a point where very little information can be
hidden and where the amount of information available can be overwhelming. The
technology industry has lead this. The internet alone has been the tool that has affected
more choices than anything in the history of the world. It’s been the single factor in the
advancement of communications from the masses of people. Now, rather than
sampling populations to find out what people are thinking and what they want through
polling, we have reached a time when activities and interests are organized around
“communities” where broadcast and feedback communications happen constantly and
immediately through “Wisdom of Crowd” structures. Examples include Yelp, Scribd,
Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
This is a phenomenal development for our lifestyles...and it’s only at the infancy. What
you will be able to do before the end of your lives will be incredible. All of it will increase
the number of choices that you will have and the number of decisions that you will be
making in your lifetimes. It all comes down to the volume of information available.
When we study ancient cultures we examine their writings. In the future, when our
culture is studied, the best way to understand what was truly on our minds will be to see
what the top Google search terms or the top-10 Twitter topics were at any one point in
time. And it could truly be studied by an exact point in time....down to the second. Can
you imagine if Twitter or Google existed at the time when Jesus was walking around the
Middle East? The Bible could have been written by the collection of live “Tweets” alone.
The technology of my earlier years was different. Which, for the record, was not at the
time of Jesus. There were limited choices. First, personal computers didn’t exist.
Calculators were very large four function devices only seen in accounting departments.
Engineers used “slide rules”...have you ever heard of one of those? Simple four
function calculators that are now given away for free were just being introduced. My
oldest sister bought one for $70.00 at Sears.
When I had to do research at home it was based on a mid 1950‘s set of the
Encyclopedia Britanica. For more advanced research I had to go to the library and look
up information from a card catalogue that was based on something called the “Dewey
Decimal System”. When you were lucky enough to find a book on the subject that you
were researching you had to count on the fact that it hadn’t been checked-out by
someone else. The availability of books and information was based on the size of the
budget of the school system and the city where you lived.
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Could you imagine doing research today using an internet that hasn’t been updated in
10 years? Or, even worse, doing mathematical calculations with pencil and paper!
The limited choice of this time was very obvious in the news and in what we now know
as political media.
Obtaining news was from two primary sources in those times; the newspaper and the
television. Believe it or not, radio was mostly for music with brief locally-focused news.
Talk programs were not in existence for the most part. All had limited choices; in a town
like Toledo there were only two newspapers; a morning newspaper and The Blade. For
broadcast news through television you only had three choices; NBC, CBS and ABC.
It was advanced for it’s time but it was limited by today’s standards.
Something about it, however, was different than today; the media reported news based
on the facts. There was no need to add anything else to it because with limited choices
each outlet could expect a significant portion of the market and the advertising revenues
that they charged at that time showed their dominance.
At that time, the idea that information could flow freely around the world in a cabled and
wireless network were, well, out there... The concept of “tweeting” thoughts through a
“Wisdom of Crowds” community like Twitter was even further out there. The thought of
putting everything about your social life on-line like Facebook was unheard of.
Today, what you probably take for granted is different to say the least. Information outlet
choices are endless ranging from media web pages, blogger sites to Tweets.
It’s wonderful to have so many choices but it creates some interesting dynamics. Each
outlet has to compete for the attention of their audiences; you. There are so many vying
for your time that they have to sensationalize the content. This results in all kinds of
entertaining innovations in news reporting, such as stories that don’t deserve our
attention, the exclusion of stories that should be reported and a focus on creating
stories around news that may not be factual or accurate. This is bias.
In December 2005, a ten-year study at UCLA under the direction of UCLA political
scientist Tim Groseclose and University of Missouri economist Jeffrey Milyo showed that
broadcast and print media were biased in their reporting. Some were right biased and
many were left biased. None were in the middle even though all stated that they were.
What’s the significance of this fact? The media is trying to tell you what to do. They are
“selling” you on what they believe. During elections their reports are structured around
their opinions and not on the facts.
The same type of bias exists in the choices that we make about what foods to eat. I’m
afflicted with hypertension and have to watch my sodium intake. I actually look at the
labels on the shelf in the stores. It’s amazing marketing of information. “Lower sodium”
and “reduced sodium” can mean that it’s reduced from fatal levels to just lethal levels.
In both cases; information from media outlets and internet sources, and nutritional
information that is marketed on food packages, we are all being marketed through
attempts to direct our actions and our decisions. In one case it’s sound bites and talking
points and in the other it’s pleasant ways of describing minimal efforts. Both have one
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thing in common; they want to sell you something. They want you to make your
decision based on what they tell you. Both are trying to tell you what to do.
Don’t let them!
You are the buyers, whether its your vote or your dollars. You are the ones who should
be making decisions based on what YOU believe and not on what someone else
Mark Twain once said that “truth is more of a stranger than fiction”. That timeless
statement may be the most succinct statement that will define what you will be exposed
to as you lead your personal and professional lives and work to make community
Biased or misleading information anywhere is a threat to unbiased and factual
information everywhere.
Class of 2009; demand facts! Don’t accept biased presentation of any form of
information. Most importantly, learn how to distinguish between someone or something
telling you what YOU should do and someone giving you facts for YOUR decision.
They are entirely different things.
Follow your common sense instincts. Talk to you parents and grandparents. The best
information that you should seek is from those who have walked around this planet for a
few more years than you.
We’re living in challenging times. Your decisions are critical.
In 1984 when Apple Computer launched a new computer called the Macintosh they
aired what became one of the most watched commercials of all time. Before YouTube it
was the most requested commercial to view at the Museum of Television and Radio in
New York City. Now, it’s one of the highly viewed video clips on YouTube. In this ad,
they presented a great visual of mindless people marching in unitarian clothing into a
room where they sit to watch biased media tell them how great things are. Don’t let this
be you.
In my time we had to seek information but in your time you have to choose. Make the
choices your own and demand factual information.
With factual information your personal decision in the pro-life/pro-choice debate will be

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One of the phrases of my generation was “keep the faith”. I don’t exactly know what the
“faith” was at that time but that phrase died a long time ago. It was too bad because
faith is an important element of living a full life. I’m not specifically referring to just
spiritual faith. I’m referring to the beliefs that you each hold deer in your hearts and
integrate into your lives. The things that define you.
Believing in something propels you to achieve greatness in whatever you choose.
What defined my faith came from a very early life observation and from the example
that my mother lived.
My mother was one of the greatest influences in my life. With a little information I think
you’ll understand why.
Irene Laverne Toth, my mother, lived a life as an energetic spirit who developed a strong
work ethic from being raised on a farm on the east side of Toledo. She was very
popular in high school and served on student council. She was also what was the
equivalent of the homecoming queen, or as they called it at that time, the Apple
Blossom Queen.
She was a beautiful woman who experienced the years of the Great Depression and,
perhaps most significantly, the beginning of World War II, in the single years of her
adulthood. For Irene, reading the paper in the morning was a way to learn if anyone
she knew had been killed in the war.
She married my father at the age of 22 and started a family as my father served in the
69th Armored Division of the Army. When the war ended they settled into productive
lives as most did following their various war experiences. They had two daughters;
Connie and Kathy.
in the early 1950’s, Connie developed a brain tumor and died soon after surgery when
she was 11 years old. Until the day that my mother died last September, she always
told me that the hardest thing to experience as a parent is the loss of a child. Even
when she was 88 years old, and more than 50 years later, the thought of Connie would
bring tears to her eyes.
In the years before the loss of her daughter my mother lost her mother, with whom she
was close, and her beloved brother Alex, with whom she described as a strong father
Four years after Connie’s death, after my parents brought my sister Michele and me into
this world, and when I was just 11 months old, my father took his own life. He
committed suicide. My mother was 37 years old at that time and was left with three
children to raise on her own.
Think about that for a moment; can you imagine being 37 years young and experiencing
that that much loss?

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The year was 1957 and it was a different time for widow heads-of-households to say the
I don’t know how my mother handled all of this tragedy but how she lived her faith is one
of my earliest memories and one of best leadership examples that I’ve been exposed to.
When I was about 3 years old I remember that my mother would gather my two sisters
and me together every night to pray the Rosary in front of large statue of Our Lady of
Fatima. The Blessed Mother.
That may not seem significant but looking back on that time in my mother’s life, she
could have found at least a dozen excuses to reject her spiritual beliefs, she had every
reason to be mad at God and perhaps the world. She could have relieved her sorrow
and her struggles in alcohol or drugs. She could have resented the fact that she had to
raise three children. She could have blamed the world.
She did none of those.
She reached out to her faith and showed that she believed in God more than ever and
in doing that, she modeled what faith is all about.
Those images are images that I will never forget.
Until the day that she died, the one thing that she reminded me often was “don’t loose
your faith in God”.
What I’m about to say could be considered by some in today’s world to be politically
incorrect, but;
• I believe, trust and have faith in God
• I pray the Rosary every day
• My patron saints are Saint Jude and Saint Martin de Porres.

My statements do not attack any other faith or disrespect them in any way whatsoever.
They are expressions of love and respect and a reflection of my personal beliefs.
Those are at the core of my beliefs and are the source of my personal principles and my
integrity. Between these spiritual beliefs, and the example of my mother’s life, the
development of a philosophy of reaching out to others in need was a natural core
component of my integrity.
Knowing what you believe will shape your own destiny. Take the time early in your
careers to explore and define those beliefs. My core beliefs come from my spiritual
beliefs and experiences but that’s what my experience has been. You each have
different experiences and I urge you to take inventory of what you value and build a life
and a belief structure around those values.
More than 20 years ago, and about 10 years into my career, I listened to a prominent
management consultant speak at a seminar. One of the points that he made registered
very strongly with me. He was discussing the importance of defining your principles and
how knowing them would make just about any business or personal decision that you
made easier.
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As a simple example, if one of your principles stated that you would not steal, you would
have a simple decision whenever you were confronted with the opportunity. I have a
business principle that I’ve adapted from this that states that I would never enrich my
personal finances at the expense of my company or in ways that are egregious in
relation to my company or the employees of my company. Seems straightforward
doesn’t it? Maybe pure common sense...but it’s challenging.
When I was involved in co-founding Ariba it was during the dot com boom. Ariba was to
the web 1.0 era what Google is to the web 2.0 era. We were highly sought after by
investors before we were a public company. Many of them offered ME opportunities to
invest in private stocks or to receive cash payouts from investments that seemed too
good to be true. This “opportunity” was for me only and not for my company or anyone
else in it. I was the CFO of the company and, of course, the payback was letting those
investors invest in Ariba.
It was tempting.
Because of my personal principal I turned them down.
As it turns out from the information that flowed-out of litigation after the dot com
meltdown in 2001, others were offered the same opportunities but I was one of the few
that said no. When these arrangements were front-page news in the Wall Street
Journal there were many Silicon Valley names listed...but not mine.
In looking at what might have happened if I had participated in some of them, I would
have made approximately $250,000.
That’s a lot of money!
But my integrity as a finance and business professional would have been compromised
forever. It would have been a skeleton in my not-so-secret closet. I’ve never regretted
those decisions.
Contrast that to today’s news; Bernie Madoff. He lived a lavish lifestyle with the money
that his investors entrusted to him. Personally, I can’t imagine living like that. Clearly,
Mr. Madoff had no business principles and no unifying beliefs, spiritual or otherwise.
If you believe or have faith in nothing as core values, you disbelieve everything else that
you encounter. You also have no principles to rally around. I call that being a “belief
agnostic”. That’s a tragic existence. Belief agnostics don’t have faith. They really don’t
have much to strive for or much to guide their actions. They have hollow integrity and
execute their life decisions with confusion and no conviction. They also live with no
As one final reflection about faith, I’d like to note a recent controversy. Most of you have
probably followed the story of Miss USA California, Carrie Prejean. Carrie answered a
question concerning her believes about gay marriage honestly. She said she didn’t
believe in it personally and ignited a storm of controversy for simply stating her personal
beliefs. Most of the controversy was directed against her for answering with her
personal beliefs.

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The debate about gay marriage isn’t why I note this. Carrie wasn’t afraid to answer a
question by stating her beliefs. She didn’t impose her beliefs on anyone else but just
stated what they were...and then she had to defend herself.
You’ll likely have to similarly defend your beliefs, and perhaps your faith, during your
personal and professional lives. Stand proudly and defend them; don’t hide from them.
Ever! If you do, you allow changes to occur and things to happen which you know in
your heart are not necessary or not good. In those times, remember the words of
Martin Luther King, Jr.; “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things
that matter”.
Just as my mother showed me that putting faith in your beliefs in your most challenging
time is a true way to give strength to your life and the lives of those around you I urge
you to develop your faith and your core beliefs and to defend your beliefs at whatever
the cost.
Knowing what you believe will shape your integrity and your destiny. Believing in a
strong set of core values will propel you to achieve greatness and prevent you from
compromising your principles.
As we used to say in the 1970‘s “Keep the faith”.

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In my discussion today I’ve focused on three points that I hope you remember always;
1. Believe in your dreams and yourself and no matter how many challenges you face,
never give up,
2. All generations before you had to seek; you have to choose. Don’t let others tell
you how to choose. Demand and seek facts and make your own decisions,
3. Have faith in what you believe and it will propel you to achieve greatness in
whatever you choose.
Today is a day of celebration for all of you and your families so I would like to conclude
my comments with one of my favorite quotes. I found this quote several years ago and
related to it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I’ve tended to
question established practices and philosophies and I’ve typically chosen the road less
traveled and found myself on the cutting edge of change where I’ve bled more often
than not. More than anything I think I’ve related to it because it speaks of living a life
with passion and I’ve tried to do that every day.
Those of you who have heard this may think of Apple Computer as the source.
Some of you, as I do, think of Steve Jobs because it’s truly a perfect description of
Steve’s life.
This quote is actually attributed to Jack Kerouac, who was as an American author, poet
and painter and who, with William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg is considered a
pioneer of the Beat Generation.
“Here's to the Crazy Ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They're not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify
About the only thing you can't do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They invent.
They imagine.

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They heal.
They explore.
They create.
They inspire.
They push the human race forward...
While some see them as the crazy ones, I see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the
ones who do.” -Jack Kerouac

Class of 2009, be one of the Crazy Ones!

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About the Author

Edward Phillip Kinsey II, B.B.A., C.P.A.
Doctor of Public Service, Honoris Causa

Throughout his life, Edward Phillip Kinsey II has demonstrated outstanding qualities of
leadership, service and achievement that are truly worthy of public recognition. In his
roles as leader and entrepreneur, he has offered solutions to people and businesses
throughout the country. A highly respected businessman, Mr. Kinsey has served on the
boards of numerous corporate, educational and non-profit organizations including
Comergent Technologies, Inc., DiCarta, Inc., BUILD, Inc., and the Central City Ministries
of Toledo.
Mr. Kinsey is the CEO of Determination Ventures, LLC and Co-Founding Partner of The
Kinsey Hills Group. He also co-founded and served as Executive Vice President of
Ariba, Inc., a leading provider of Spend Management solutions that help companies
analyze, understand and manage their corporate spending to achieve increased cost
savings and business process efficiency. An active serial entrepreneur and start-up
venture capital investor in Silicon Valley, he has served other Silicon Valley companies
as either the Vice President or CFO of CenterView Software, Inc., Zenger-Miller, Inc.,
and in various finance roles at Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco, California. Prior to
his current success, Mr. Kinsey also served in the audit and consulting departments of
PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP and KPMG in San Francisco and Toledo, Ohio.
His venture capital investments are concentrated in markets that promote the formation
of “wisdom of crowds” communities for those who are reached via the internet. Through
these initiatives, he provides a coordinated and consolidated voice for citizens,
consumers, customers, constituents and communities. Mr. Kinsey ensures that all
investments are focused around simple life activities that are improved and enriched by
the power, content and capabilities of the internet.
Mr. Kinsey is dedicated to service to others. He believes that success is inspirational
and he strives to aid all persons in achieving an education. Perhaps his most lasting
and greatest achievements are in the areas of service and education to young children
and adults. His Kinsey Family Foundation not only provides assistance to those who
have been affected by unfortunate circumstances but most importantly, increases
awareness of the long-term impact learning disabilities have on our society both locally
and nationally.
Mr. Kinsey’s drive and determination were shaped by his mother who faced many
challenges while raising her family. Inspired by her dedication, he went on to earn a
Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1979 and holds Certified Public
Accounting certificates in California and Ohio. In 2002, he was inducted into his alma
mater’s Hall of Fame as well as the Hungarian American Hall of Fame. In 2004, he was
honored with the Peacemaker of the Year Award for his outstanding achievement in
business and service to the Toledo, Ohio region.

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