Jake - Pacific Palisades, California
Entered on April 2, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” John Wooden. I believe that character is the most important thing someone can possess. When I die, people aren’t going to remember what car I drove or how big my house was, people are going to remember what kind of character I had and how it’s impacted others. Character is what gets people to where they want to be in life. Ken Karpman is an example of this

Ken once was the CEO of a hedge fund, but lost everything. Karpman was making $750,000 a year then suddenly lost it all. Instead of crawling into a ditch of embarrassment, he had enough pride and character to start delivering pizza. He did so to provide food and shelter for his family. People aren’t going to remember Ken Karpman for the money he was once making, but for his character in doing everything he can to get his family out trouble.

Ken Karpman’s demonstration of personal character not only showed determination and responsibility but it showed me anybody can do the right thing in the face of adversity. One of the most defining moments of character for me was when I was first introduced to drugs. I was at a party and it seemed like everybody was smoking marijuana. When someone asked me if I wanted some, I showed enough character to say, “No thanks please get that away from me”. People looked at me like I was crazy, like I was some kind of outcast. The truth is, I was the smartest kid at that party. I could’ve gone along with it, maybe getting a “cooler” reputation, but instead people realized what kind of person I actually was and they respected me for it. Just because I did that, I carried out my image that I was above all drugs. Another incident happened at school, in front of everyone. Some upperclassmen were bullying a freshman, pushing him and saying mean things. In the middle of all this chaos, I stepped in and told the kids to quit it. I explained how it wasn’t right. I’ve never believed in picking on people because of their differences, so I had to step in and show my character. I did all this in the hope that other kids would stick up for others when I was gone. It’s the right thing to do and it’s a great backbone to character. People remembered me for these, and it actually impacted other kids. Because I stood out from the crowd, other kids realized that’s ok. When people reminisce on their high school years, people will remember me for my flashing my character and impacting their own future. Character defines the type of person you are.