Bob Carr received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Illinois in the late 1960s. “I was one of six people in the school’s first computer science class,” he says.
This led to his becoming an instructor at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois, and in 1972 to entrepreneurship. He started a software and consulting business for small and mid-sized businesses, and his company was one of the first to take merchants from paper credit card slips — which had to be physically taken to a bank for processing — to electronic processing.
Carr’s work in the field led him to co-found Heartland Payment Systems with Heartland Bank in 1997. He bought out the bank in 2000 and took the company public in 2005. The company grew rapidly, becoming the country’s fifth-largest processor of credit card payments, until it was rocked by a massive security breach in 2009 that put millions of dollars in credit cards at risk.
Though still cleaning up the mess, Heartland has regained its footing in the wake of improved computer secuity systems and the arrests and prosecution of three men in connection with the breach. Heartland today processes credit card payments for more than 250,000 merchants.
If I were to teach a college class about something I should have learned in a college, it would need to be a five hour course that meets every day for the entire semester. Humans actually learn every day of their lives. Book learning begins in kindergarten and is arguably most concentrated in a rigorous college curriculum, although I question how many college curriculuma could properly be described as “rigorous” in this day and age.
My course would be a four-part course that would focus on the hard realities of setting priorities in life. The first part of the course would focus upon the concept of everlasting life. At some point in almost everyone’s life, I suspect, one is confronted with the concept that everlasting life may be a possibility if one believes or behaves in a certain way here on Earth. Since “everlasting” is forever, one cannot take this lightly. If the average person lives to, say, 75 years in their Earthbound life, everlasting life would be a lot more than that.
One million years isn’t even 5 percent of “everlasting.” In fact the entire 5 to 6 billion-year current lifespan of the universe itself is less than 1 percent of everlasting. So if everlasting life is a) truly possible and b) desirable, it would seem clear that a person should spend every second on his very brief 75 years attempting to attain that goal. If one believes that this is attainable and desirable, then I would advise them to drop out of college and do what is necessary to attain that goal. Nothing could be more important.
For those who remained in the course, the second part would be the topic of happiness. My class would explore what can make people truly happy at the various stages of life in the most granular manner possible. My goal would be to explore every conceivable angle about possible actions a person could take to attain the most happiness based upon the individual personality and attributes of my students. We would recognize that what makes one happy at the age of 20 would likely be different than at the age of 40 or 60 or 80.
The third part of the course would be devoted to examining the methods and techniques of attaining the happiness opportunities that were identified in the second part of the course. Clearly a single course could do little more than open up doors for the students to explore in the months and years after they finished my course. We would look at youth, middle age, the senior years and everything in between. We would study self-actualization, love, family, personal ethics, and grounding in integrity and intellectual honesty for starters.
The fourth part of the course would look at what causes the opposite of happiness. There would not be adequate time to show all of the ways that a person can cause his life to be miserable. We would do case study after case study until we ran out of weeks in the semester. We would explore a small portion of the consequences of poor life choices, bad judgment, laziness, lack of personal integrity and intellectual honesty, short cuts, bad people, risky activities, and so-on.
The final week would summarize the course, except of course, for those who dropped out after the first part in their search for everlasting life.