Sept. 24, 2009
Cliff Ghoram attended the 10th Annual Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship Kickoff Celebration on Sept. 3 seeking inspiration from keynote speaker George Foreman, for in Foreman Ghoram seems someone to emulate.
Foreman has made a celebrated transition from athletics to entrepreneurship, transitioning from two-time world heavyweight boxing champion to the top-selling electrical appliance pitchman in history. Ghoram, set to open his senior season with the basketball program later this semester, has designs on starting and operating his own business once he earns his Rice degree. He believes the combination of his major (sociology) and minor (business) will provide a unique advantage once he takes that bold professional step, but he wanted to hear the advice Foreman opted to share during his speech at the Jones School of Business' Shell Auditorium.
"I thought it would be a good thing to see him in person and hear from his personal experience how he did it," Ghoram said. "One thing he gave was the idea (any challenge) is not as big as it seems. The hardest step is getting out there, but once you get out there you see it's not as bad as it seems.
"He used an analogy with boxing for the business world. Usually he would get in the ring and be nervous, but once he got in he realized it wasn't so bad. Embrace fear."
Ghoram has never had a problem embracing fear on the court. During the Owls' first season under head coach Ben Braun, Ghoram routinely played out of position defensively and guarded power forwards despite his 6-5, 205-pound frame. His most gargantuan task came on Dec. 22, 2008 when Oklahoma All-American Blake Griffin made an appearance at Tudor Fieldhouse. Despite surrendering five inches and 50 pounds Ghoram fought tooth-and-nail against the national player of the year.
As the co-host for the Night of the Owl Athletic Honor Banquet this past spring, Ghoram had to embrace fear off the court. Initially he was unsure of whether he was the right student-athlete for the job, but he tackled the challenge and the event went off without a hitch. When Ghoram contemplates the risks he will take as an entrepreneur, his decisions to step outside of his comfort zone at Rice are validated.
"I definitely believe that will help me out, especially the fearless attitude," Ghoram said. "It's a mental thing, and I believe that you create the giant that people boost up.
"I tell myself that I don't want any regrets. I just try to do as much as I can right now and try to be the best person I can be right now and get involved because I don't want to regret not being more involved in school."
A self-described people person, Ghoram was Student Government Association president at Zachary High School in Zachary, La., and seamlessly parlayed that experience into becoming the Rice representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for Conference USA. He is a prolific public speaker in his native Louisiana and has grown increasingly adept at utilizing his interpersonal skills in a variety of arenas. His leadership on the court is unquestioned - Ghoram has started every C-USA game for the past two seasons - and his talent off it is budding. Given his penchant for tackling tasks enthusiastically, entrepreneurship shouldn't slow him.
"I have the confidence to do it if I just learn more about it," Ghoram said. "I don't feel like I know everything I need to know to have my own business - it might take some years of experience and maybe I'll have to work for someone for a bit and I plan to get my MBA in the future- but eventually I know that I will own my own business."
By relying on his fearless spirit in every aspect of his life, Ghoram is poised to become one of Tomorrow's Leaders.