Curiosity, restlessness drive Marquette’s new fundraiser-in-chief
Tim McMahon doesn’t like to sit still — after all, he’s on a journey. The young New York native took the reins of University Advancement on Oct. 1 with the goal of “building a culture of philanthropy” at Marquette University, something he stresses is more trek than trip. Fortunately, Tim is — as he puts it — curious and restless, characteristics he points out as fundamental to Jesuit education.
Just before the New Year, Tim took a moment to sit down with Marquette Today to talk a little about his family, the wit of Will Rogers and how a tray of half-empty ketchup bottles taught him his greatest life lesson.
Hometown: Originally from Long Island, New York. Currently lives in Mequon.
Family: Wife, Kara, and three sons: Brady (9), twins Jack and Luke (7).
Hobbies and interests: Spending time with family, golfing, swimming, biking and reading (mostly history).
Favorite movies: All-time favorite is Biloxi Blues. Other favorites include Hoosiers, Good Will Hunting, The Shawshank Redemption and Field of Dreams.
Heroes: My parents and grandparents — they taught me so much. Neither parent graduated from college. My dad was a bartender who took a chance and became a restaurant owner; mom was a real estate agent. Also, Mike O’Neill, my mentor at Villanova, who instilled in me the importance of excellence and high standards.
Favorite quotes/mottos: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” —Aristotle
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. “ —Will Rogers
Currently reading: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John Maxwell; Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, by Donald Miller
Favorite vacation spots: We regularly visit the Jersey Shore or some of the lakes in the Poconos; we’re going to explore some of the Wisconsin lakes this year. We also have a tradition of choosing one historical place — so far we’ve been to Washington, D.C.; Annapolis, Maryland; and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Biggest career learning experience: I worked as a bus boy in my dad’s restaurant, and one night around 3 a.m. after all the customers had gone, I sat down to rest. My dad asked why I was sitting; I told him there was no one in the restaurant, so I was taking a breather. He motioned to a bunch of ketchup bottles, most of which were half full and explained that I should be consolidating them. That one moment taught me a lot about work ethic.
Fun facts: I’m the middle son of three sons, and now I have three sons. I’m also a big Yankees fan—our yellow lab, Thurman, is named after Yankees catcher Thurman Munson. I played collegiate baseball (outfield) at Hofstra University, and I ran the New York City Marathon three years in a row.