Re-Connect With Your Younger Business Self: My Top 4 Picks of 2012’s Commencement Addresses

It wasn’t that long ago that I graduated high school back in 1995… Ok fine, it was that long ago.
But I never did experience University graduation.  Even though I was actually teaching a tutorial in Organic Chemistry as a 2nd year student, I wasn’t able to get my Bachelor’s degree in Bio Chemistry because I got accepted early into  Optometry school.    
Then I never graduated from Optometry School in Waterloo, Ontario.  If you have read my post  “The Key To Happiness, According to Dr? Baines” you know why.
Last week, while waiting for my daughter during her swimming lessons, I was going through my twitter feed and stumbled upon Dave McCullough’s high school graduation speech titled “You are Not Special” – it had gone viral and it struck a big chord with me.  
It intrigued me so much that I spent more time that evening looking at other commencement speeches from this year. 
A lot of them were the same old, same old, some were more politically motivated, and some were a display of “Look how awesome I turned out because of the awesome school I went too.”   But four of them stood out, four of them were different, four of them were timeless and universal.

 

I Love To Share My Inspiration

The list of subjects I could write about from these speeches are endless.  As I watched them a rush of thoughts I wish I could share with each graduate to help them navigate the waters of adulthood as they make their own way in life flooded my mind.  
This post, however, is directed at my business readers and those already well on their life path.   So I picked two common themes from these four speeches that are in line with two things I am very passionate about: Mentoring and Staying True to Yourself.   

 

Don’t Forget Those Behind You

Whether we are 17, 24, 35, 43, 57, or 65 years old, we are all still learning and experiencing new things and we are all still experiencing successes and failures.
It is so easy to get caught up in impressing those in front of us and pleasing those around us that we forget to help those who are just like our younger business selves. Those who are coming up behind us. 
Take the time to reach out to others and lend your time to pass on the knowledge you have learned along the bumpy road of life in an effort to make it a bit more smooth for others.   You never know when you yourself will need advice and help in life and it may not always come from those ahead of you.  
As you watch these 4 commencement addresses, re-connect with how you felt right out of high school and university and the lessons you have learned since then. 
Doing so will help you sympathize with the young adults just entering the workforce and remind you of just how clueless they are to the business world.  After all, that was you not long ago. 
I challenge you to take the time to reach out. This year’s graduates are your future employees and co-workers. If you get cocky and don’t take the time to reach out to those who are behind you on the road of life now… well they may just come up and bite you on the ass before passing you. 

 

Go After It Because You Love It and You Believe In It

In my recent blog post about “What My Little Girl Can Teach You About Life and Why Adults Suck”, I talk about how we lose our creativity and zest for life.  The reality is, far too many young adults graduate high school or university with energy and appetite for success only to get slowly beaten down into adults that lend themselves to cynicism and complacency.  
I believe it’s because they have either let someone else define success for them, or they followed a path because it was convenient or they let themselves get led down the path of other people’s expectations.   
Not everyone knows what they want to do for the rest of their life at age 17, 24, or even 30.  I believe the biggest thing we can do as mentors and business people who have ‘been there done that’ is to show support and foster them. 
Let them know that it’s okay to not know what you are passionate about. But it’s not okay to never go looking for it.  And it’s certainly not okay, that once you find it, to never go after it.  
The key here is to go down a path because YOU choose too.  Go after it because YOU love it and because YOU believe in its importance.  When the going gets tough, the belief in what you are doing will help you weather the storm, and your success here will bring you great satisfaction.

 

My Top 4 Commencement Addresses of 2012 

Now these are in no specific order. Sorry I can’t choose favorites as I loved all of these.  They are so different from one another with so much to learn.  Thank you to all the speakers for inspiring me! I hope they inspire you as well!

 

“You Are Not Special “ by David McCullough to Wellesley High School

This on is absolutely brilliant!

 

Aaron Sorkin’s address to Syracuse University.

I totally love this one!

 

Neil Gaiman’s Inspirational Commencement Speech to the University of the Arts

This one is so sincere and touching – and applicable to EVERYONE!

 

Colin Powell’s address to Northeastern University

This is 26 minutes long, but he gets paid $75,000 per speaking engagement so it’s worth $32,500 making it well worth your 26 minutes!

 

SPEAK UP!

I love to interact with my readers in the comments section below, so don’t be shy. Speak up! Let me know what you think, or share an experience of your own. I want to know if you agree, or even if you disagree with me – It helps me learn and grow :)

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Comments

  1. Hey Steve, love it. Well…I haven’t watched the vids yet, but I really like this: Let them know that it’s okay to not know what you are passionate about. But it’s not okay to never go looking for it. And it’s certainly not okay, that once you find it, to never go after it.
    The key here is to go down a path because YOU choose too. Go after it because YOU love it and because YOU believe in its importance. When the going gets tough, the belief in what you are doing will help you weather the storm, and your success here will bring you great satisfaction.

    Unfortunately for me, I didn’t (and still don’t) have that support. But it’s getting better…and I don’t care, b/c I’m finally doing what I am passionate about for ME (Showing up for myself !!!)
    Selena

    • Hey Selena, you got it! It’s all about YOU. It’s much easier to carry YOUR flag through the mud and wind and rain that it is to carry someone else’s flag. I’m sorry you still don’t have the support – it took me 33 years to find my support – but congratulations in finding your passion and pursuing it!

  2. Hi Steve,

    I wish to congratulate you about what you are doing to help people …shine. Go after it because you love it and because you believe in it really spoke to me.

    I have a son in University who , after almost two years in Political science, is willing to change and answer his call: he wants to become a movie actor. He never really wanted to go to University but we , his father and I , thought it was good for him (?????) to go to University. During all this time he had suffered a lot, struggling with his studies he never likes, daydreaming about his passion and asking us to help him make his dream come true. We have decided to help him go after his passion, follow his passion. I have no doubt that he will make it because not only he likes it but because he also believes in it. He told me few days ago that the best and great gift I can offer him is to believe in him. And this is what I have decided to do, my husband also.

    I have also started a blog (celinesika.wordpress.com) to inform, inspire, motivate and accompany people who want to improve their lives and who can’t find tips and tools to do so. And one of the posts of this blog is about helping our children to have a successful transition towards and during their stay in University. Teenagers who do not have a clue about who they are (because of the many changes going on in their bodies), what they want to do with their life (it is not easy to find it when we are 17, 19, 20, 25 and even 30, and it is very important to tell them it is OK not to find their passion at that time and that they still have a future), where to seek help, how to have a girl friend, friends, people who sometimes only need someone to tell them they can make it, they are smart, that even the worse thing will pass, etc.

    Thanks for doing what you do.

    • Thank You very much for your kind words Celine and thank you for sharing your story with me. I am so happy you decided to help and support your son in his pursuit of his passion. I guarantee you will all be much happier for it.

  3. Great stuff Steve and it is always nice when you read a post that inspires you.

    Sometimes we need to Just F’in Do It :-) A couple of quotes I shared on this on my blog http://cnadeau.evolvingsolutions.ca/just-fin-do-it
    Chris Nadeau recently posted…Make More and Work Less With Invoice AutomationMy Profile

  4. You are welcome Steve. We need people like you to remind us that our time is limited as Steve Job used to say and that when we ignore this small voice inside us that is telling us what to do, which direction to take, we are wrong, absolutely wrong because if we ignore it, we will be miserable all our life.

    Our parent but also social expectations are huge and we this is killing us. We should be able to behave our way, to be different even though this is not easy. But we should try to do what we like and allow our beloved ones to do the same. We have only one life and have no right to spoil it living the lives of others. I will do my best, we will do all our best to help my son achieve his dream. I seize this opportunity to ask you and all the readers of your blog, with your permission, Steve, to help me find a good school where my son can learn how to perform in Canada or the USA. He is 20 years, and is a second year student at a University here in Canada.

    Thanks for helping me to help my son,
    Celine recently posted…La santé est d’abord une affaire personnelle!My Profile

    • I am sorry, Celine, but I don’t know enough about the Arts programs in schools around Canada to make a recommendation. However, I am sure that with the passion your son sounds like he has and with support of loving parents, he will find the right place for him.

      Just remember – pursuing your passion isn’t all blue skies. There are still storms that come, but the point is they will be easier to weather while following YOUR dreams.

      Tell your son to be patient, work hard, stay positive and in relentless pursuit no matter what ups and downs he faces pursuing his dream.

      Best wishes – Steve

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