Ronnie Lott Asks Menlo College Students, “Do You Have It?”

Ronnie Lott, Silicon Valley investor, philanthropist and NFL Hall of Fame 49er cornerback and safety, was the keynote speaker at Menlo Connect Day. The title of his topic was a question, “Do you have it?” Considered to be a super star of football, Lott is familiar with notoriety. He was named All-Pro eight times, and he is still considered to be one of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history.

In addition to being a football icon, Lott is an engaging motivational speaker who knows how to draw his audience into the story so that they become part of the subject. Lott took to heart Menlo Connect Day’s purpose to expose the alumni community to some of the “best and brightest” Menlo students. He sat at a table with the Student Planning Committee for Menlo Connect Day, including Haley Heryford, Andrew Hernandez, Laurene Montford, Sofia Hoskinson, Garrett Bock, Jesse Pocasangre, and Devin Gaines. In his speech he frequently referred to them, saying “What I like about my table—they’re authentic—they’re real.”

Although he praised football heroes such as Joe Montana and Jerry Rice for their humility in proclaiming that they had never played a “perfect game,” he pointed to the story of Mark Owen, the Navy SEAL in the Bin Laden raid as having “more impact than football.” He praised Owen’s statement that “Anybody could be like me. I wanted to be a SEAL to represent my country.”

“My table would not have given up either,” he smiled, referring to Owen’s dangerous mission. He described his table as “students who come from different backgrounds and have faced adversity, and yet have bonded like family.”

Lott cautioned students, “We want to do it all, but we can’t.” He continued, “We find ourselves in diverse situations, but we must remain calm. Sometimes your greatest moments are just being calm.”

He left the audience with two thoughts: “Exhaust life” and “Ask yourself, is anyone going to come to my funeral?” He explained, “If people come to your funeral, it will be to respect the adversity you’ve met while trying to accomplish something great. You will find your greatness.”

He asked the alumni in the audience to stand up and be proud of Menlo students, and said Menlo students should model themselves after the passion of the guests standing amongst them. “When you talk to others you’re cultivating others with your greatness,” he said to alumni. “The big call in life is serving others.”