The last four years for many seniors have been difficult with the pandemic. Learning was turned upside down or rather it turned inside versus outside. What will this generation teach us about survival and success? As sales and marketing folks we are always looking for motivation. One thing that I like to do is listen to some of the commencement speeches. As some of you know my favorite commencement speech was delivered by Admiral William H. McRaven in 2014 to the University of Texas graduates, titled “Make Your Bed." McRaven also wrote a short book on this topic that I enjoy giving as a gift.
The 2022 speeches are not yet public. However, we can learn a lot from 2021. Surprisingly some were in person, but many of course were online.
For your enjoyment:
Bryan Stevenson gave a wonderful graduation speech to the University of Michigan graduates, via Zoom. Bryan Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a law professor at NYU, and the author of a memoir Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. “If we stay hopeful, we can change the world."
John Legend gave a very thoughtful speech to Duke University’s graduates. He began with what they’ve lost because of the pandemic. He then went on to make the point that their learning should not stop upon college graduation, and provided three steps they can take to continue their education while tackling the major issues we all face in the U.S.
Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan CEO, delivered the commencement address to the graduates of Ohio State. “How you deal with failure may be the most important thing in how you succeed." He acknowledged that in the past year, these graduates have been through a pandemic, social and racial injustice, turbulent politics and global recession. “Celebrate America’s exceptionalism while acknowledging our country’s flaws." “To be successful, you need to continue learning."
Tim Allen, the actor and comedian, spoke at Hillsdale College’s commencement ceremony. He is wonderfully introduced by college President Larry Arnn. While Allen did not graduate from Hillsdale College in Michigan, he did attend Western Michigan University and always wore sweatshirts from Michigan colleges and universities on his TV show “Home Improvement." Tim Allen delivered a thoughtful, reminiscent talk that is also full of humor, and ends with great advice.
Here are a couple others that you would have assumed would be commencement speakers:
Kamala Harris, Vice President, delivered commencement address at the Naval Academy.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke at UNC Chapel Hill by Zoom.
I have to admit….my favorite of the above was Tim Allen's speech, and it makes me want to watch the movie “Galaxy Quest." I also liked the quote by Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan, CEO: "To be successful we need to continue to learn." Let me know if there is a favorite speech or two you would recommend we all take a moment to listen and contemplate.
Congratulations to the classes of 2022….we look forward to working with you!