Peter Cronan Discusses Networking, Athletics, And Leadership At BC
Published: Monday, February 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 02:02
“We are all selling something,” Peter Cronan, regional vice president of Merrill Corporation and BC ’77, told students at the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics Lunch with a Leader last Thursday. Cronan spoke with students about his time as a college and professional football player and how he made his transition from the field to the office.
“When I was growing up, I suffered from a lack of identity,” Cronan said. “Football was the first thing I could be good at. It was the first thing I was recognized for.”
Cronan became “Pete the football player” for the next 17 years. Turning down offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Holy Cross, he joined the Boston College football team as a starting linebacker. He arrived at Gonzaga 203 in the summer of 1973.
“Soon after I came to BC, my athletic career flourished,” Cronan said. “But it was not without challenges … I only focused on what was in my control. There were times when I was frustrated. But my frustration turned to anger, which turned to action.”
It was at BC that Cronan first began to understand the power of networking. He advised students to take advantage of their peers, faculty, and administrators within the BC community.
“What you should be doing now is collecting the most information you possibly can about people,” Cronan said. “Leverage your connections. BC alums are vast and loyal. The connections are of tremendous value.”
After graduating from BC with a double major in education and sociology, Cronan was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round of the NFL draft. As a professional athlete, Cronan learned another valuable life lesson—the importance of being prepared. Training seven days a week, six hours a day during his first preseason, Cronan struggled to keep up with his teammates. Though it was a bleak beginning, Cronan again focused on what was in his control and eventually found his footing within the professional league.
“I learned from my mistakes, and that message is transferable to each and every one of you,” Cronan said.
Cronan played middle linebacker for the Seahawks for three years, followed by four years with the Washington Redskins. He retired from the game in 1985, after playing as team captain for the Seahawks and Redskins, and appearing in two Super Bowl games. Once in retirement, Cronan created a plan for his life after football. He turned to his BC network to land his first job.
“I joined a TV gig that covered Boston College football,” Cronan said. “It was my entry into broadcast. Two years later, I began working as a radio analyst on the Boston College radio and I have been doing that for the last 25 years … The question looms: Have I made it outside of the football world? Some days, I still don’t know. But I am happy with what I’m doing.”
Cronan told students that in order to succeed in business, he used his motivation to improve athletically and transferred it to the corporate world. As the regional vice president of Merill Corporation, Cronan is now responsible for the sales and general management of the company’s Legal Financial Transaction Services.
“Ironically, I always wanted to be a teacher and a coach,” he said. “You know what I do every day? I teach and I coach.”
He left students with his own road map to landing a job.
“Be prepared, convey enthusiasm, remain honest, call on God, and always know your product,” Cronan said. “Most importantly, always, always network.”