Guest speaker talks about inspiration, surviving Hudson River plane crash

Mr. John Howell speaks about the tragic plane crash he was in and also about his book on Wednesday inside of Barsema Hall.

Mr. John Howell speaks about the tragic plane crash he was in and also about his book on Wednesday inside of Barsema Hall.

By Michael Urbanec

John Howell, survivor of the 2009 Hudson River plane landing in New York City, spoke to accountancy students Wednesday evening.

The department of accountancy and Beta Alpha Psi hosted Howell, who is also the managing director at Grant Thornton, an audit, tax and advisory service founded in Chicago, as a guest speaker on Wednesday evening in Barsema Hall.

Howell told the story of his survival on flight 1549 and how the day changed his life forever. Howell said he has approached things with an “all in, all of the time” mentality ever since the day the flight he was on landed in the Hudson.

“Remember how quickly your work can own you,” Howell said. “Ask, do I really need to be there? If the answer is yes, that means I will be more effective.”

Howell said as he sat in a plane with his life flashing before his eyes, he was not thinking of how his impending death would affect him. Instead, he worried about his parents and his family who had already suffered the tragic loss of Howell’s brother who was a firefighter on 9/11.

“Today’s the day that you have to work with,” Howell said. “What am I doing with my life, with my days and is there more?

Howell said it is important to remember horrible things happen every day.

“You could be driving home for spring break, or you could be flying out first class at LaGuardia Airport,” Howell said. “Don’t waste time on people and things that don’t matter.”

Don Tidrick, a professor of accountancy, first met Howell at a Beta Alpha Psi conference. Tidrick said he asked Howell for directions to the event he was attending. After Tidrick arrived at the conference, he learned the person who gave him direction was Howell, the conference speaker.

Howell said he is not a public speaker and hadn’t considered it until he was pressed by a client who knew his story.

“When somebody tells you that you’re an inspirational guy how can you say no,” Howell said. Howell said he speaks at four or five large events per year, as he can only fit events in to what his career will allow him to.

“When you see a sports team win a national championship, or a world series, or the super bowl, they say ‘we love each other,” Howell said. “That’s a level of commitment, they said they are going to be all in. If you can apply that to your life, what could you accomplish?”