Microsoft exec, Columbia Falls grad, offers sage advice to graduates

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Fred Jordan addresses the crowd during the Columbia Falls High School graduation Saturday.

Fred Jordan says there’s four things in life that will be the keys to your success, your mouth, your mind, your heart and your a--.

Jordan, a 1994 Columbia Falls graduate has seen his career rise to the upper echelon of the Microsoft Corporation, but getting there wasn’t easy, he told the 120-plus graduates of Columbia Falls at the high school’s commencement ceremony Saturday.

“You will get punched in your mouth,” he told the crowd, perhaps not literally, but at least metaphorically. Jordan had plans to join the Navy after high school, but that didn’t work out, so he ended up back home after five weeks. He enrolled in Flathead Valley Community College, got a job with Plum Creek, moved to Louisiana, got a four-year degree in accounting and then Plum Creek told him he was working for the wrong company. They could care less that he had a four-year degree. So he got a job with the accounting firm Arthur Anderson, which saw its downfall come with the energy crisis and the Enron scandal.

Punched in the proverbial mouth, he had a wife, kids and no job.

“What you do (after you get punched) is most important — it will define your character,” he said.

So enter your mind. Be curious, he said. Seek challenges. Follow your heart.

Jordan followed his passion, ended up in Seattle, got a gig with the Microsoft and worked his butt off.

But he didn’t have to wear a suit and tie.

“I get to wear a hoody every day,” he said.

At Microsoft he devised a way to distribute software through the Internet rather than through discs, which was the standard at the time. That won him the company’s Circle of Excellence Award.

He then won it again for another project. Today, he oversees the company’s product development.

“Every product Microsoft ships, I’m accountable to bring to market,” he said.

He then “launched” the Class of 2018 into the world marketplace, offering a possible internship at the company to any graduate who was interested, giving out his own personal email address.

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