Winning the Right Way

We are taught early in life that there is a right way to win and lose. When you win, like the great football coach Vince Lombardi said, you should “act like you have been there before.” People should be respectful to their opponent while still celebrating the win. An example of winning the right way occurred during the recent 56th Annual IEC National Convention & Electric Expo in Portland, Oregon.

One of the yearly highlights of the convention is the IEC National Apprentice of the Year Competition. The event pits the winners of the Wire-Offs at local chapters in a week-long contest. While other attendees of the convention are learning valuable business information in the education sessions, visiting with exhibitors, and networking with colleagues, the apprentice competitors are taking written exams and troubleshooting complex electrical problems.

The hard work of these competitors is celebrated during the Awards Gala at the conclusion of the conven- tion. Each of the competitors were called individually to the stage as the crowd roars. They were all presented with an individual trophy and a monetary gift courtesy of the IEC LiveWires (a group comprised of the spouses and guests of IEC members).

As they are on stage, the hosts for the evening then announce the second- and third-place winners. Each is presented with a large check from The Home Depot and a plaque. The third-place winner receives $1,000, second gets $2,000, and the first-place winner receives $3,000! In addition, the chapter of each winner receives the same monetary amount in The Home Depot gift cards.

As the second- and third-place winners are announced, the audience erupts with excitement. You immediately know where the representatives from the chapter of the apprentices are sitting because they all jump up from their seats in jubilation.

Then comes my absolute favorite part of the convention, the announcement of the IEC National Apprentice of the Year. In the past, the winner has pumped their fist with a huge smile on their face or leaped into the air with joy. This year was different.

IEC’s CEO/Executive Vice President Thayer Long paused during the drum roll then proclaimed, “The 2014 IEC National Apprentice of the Year is Jacob Gray of IEC of Greater Cincinnati!” The spotlight found Jacob but he did not run to the front of the stage. Jacob went and shook the hand of every one of his fellow competitors, all 22 of them. I later asked him why he did it, he responded, “I know how much hard work we all put in this week. I wanted them to know we are all winners.”

Jacob Gray is a respectful young man who wins the right way.

To see the winners of the 2013 IEC National Apprentice of the Year Competition, turn to pages 36-37. As always, if you want the most up-to-date information, stay connected with IEC National by “liking” us on

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Joseph G. Cephas
Vice President of Public Affairs
Editor-In-Chief, Insights
IEC National
Follow on Twitter: @JosephCephas