Peter Burchard: The Personal Side

Born in Chicago, the sixth of Dorothy and Jack’s ten children, Peter recalls this about his early years: “My early memories are anchored in family, sports, church, nearly drowning in the Des Plaines River and the one thing I hated most – school!”

“For the most part, I took a pass on grades one through eight. Learning was not on my to-do list. My mom pushed and prayed but I had mentally checked-out.”

“I was taught in the same chalk-board walled rooms where my father and his father sat decades before me. The wood seats were probably their seats too. My high points seemed to come from disrupting classes with loose comments followed by a march to the principal’s office. By the time I entered high school my life was already filled with a treasure trove of bad decisions. I had successfully worked my way towards the bottom of the class. Living a carefree life seemed to have no serious consequences. That is, until I faced a life-changing conversation within the first few weeks of high school.”

Peter’s story of overcoming his disinterest in school and willingness to change sparks an exciting and unusual personal turnaround story.

Peter’s lessons in leadership draw from his own personal journey and how serendipitous moments can shape life’s most exciting opportunities. Peter’s stories include lessons from his Civil War era relatives who were kidnapped along with Colonel Lewis Washington (George Washington’s great-grandnephew) by famed abolitionist John Brown at Harper’s Ferry. The spectrum of paths-crossing is only beginning.

Reflecting on his early years, Peter asks, “I can imagine what might have happened had my younger brother Paul, reenacting a scene from It’s A Wonderful Life, not grabbed the hood of my winter coat as I dropped chin-deep through the broken ice and into the Des Plaines River. I wasn’t concerned with dying but with what my grandmother would say if she found out that the winter coat she had just given me for Christmas was drenched in river water!”