A Graduation Gift…

Phil Holberton

Phil Holberton

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s commencement time and whether your child is in high school, off to college, headed to a summer internship, or off to conquer the world, here is collection of my favorite commencement speaker advice and a few other observations that you may wish to share with the young people in your life.  You may recognize a few of these from previous years, and there’s a few new gems of wisdom as well…for everyone, not just the new grads.


What to Read (as suggested by those who do the hiring) :  An entry from the Quartz website advises : “New graduates may think they’re ready for the world, but even after all that learning, there’s still room in their heads for some wisdom. We asked a dozen business leaders—from CEOs of big companies and startups, to deans of leading business schools—what books they would put in the hands of a newly minted graduate. Here’s what they recommended

Are Lucky or Smart? : Michael Lewis’ (author of “Moneyball” and “The Big Short”) 12 minute  2012 Commencement Address at Princeton reminds his audience not to overestimate their competence, or underestimate the role of luck, in their lives and by way of illustration relates the chance encounter at a dinner party that launched his own remarkable career, and the moral obligation to share a little bit of one’s luck.  Funny and insightful..must viewing for everyone.

The Hero’s Journey: John Green (author of the bestseller “The Fault of Our Stars”)  warned the graduates of Butler University about “the hero’s journey”  and to get ready to go from being “somebody” to being “nobody” for a while  (i.e. paying some dues) and offers some insight regarding what to worry about….and what to not worry about.  (Text of 12 minute talk).

GROW UP!  30 is NOT the “new 20”  says clinical psychologist Meg Jay in a compelling TED Talk (14 minutes).   Based on her experience working with patients under 30,  Ms Jay says that too many 20 somethings wake up in their thirties to find that what should have been the launch pad for successful adulthood was just an “extended adolescence’ with potentially long term consequences that may be difficult, or impossible, to overcomeShare this one with every new college graduate (or parent of one) that you know.

The Importance of Making Your Bed:  Navy Seal (and Admiral) William McRaven offered grads at the University of Texas at Austin some advice on changing the world, including not underestimating the number of people whose lives will be affected by theirs……and the importance of starting every day by making your bed properly (no kidding).  Click here for the video and transcript of the Admiral’s talk  which was featured on the WSJ editorial page as well.  This one went viral.

Are You Floating or Swimming?  That’s the question that the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson once mused about in a letter to a friend who was asking Thompson’s advice about what goal to purse in life.   Thompson, only 22 ,when he penned this letter in 1958, offered some advice worthy of a commencement speech itself in considering the ordering of one’s life; in particular that “a man who procrastinates in this choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”

Demagogues and Democracy:  Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg looks at the current state of political and cultural discourse and challenges the 2016 graduating class of the University of Michigan:  “Here’s Your Degree, Now Go Defeat the Demagogues.”               

The Most Important Job Hunting Tip:  Marketing Guru Seth Godin shares what may be the most important consideration in searching for a job. 

Ace-ing the Interview:  If your graduate hasn’t found a job yet, maybe he or she should consider  the Team Approach to the Job Interview.

Colleges that Change Lives:   For those juniors and seniors in high school who have not settled on the choice of a college, why not pick one that really makes a difference? Check out “Colleges that Change Lives” coming to 26 cities across the US over the next few months.

A Crowd-sourced Commencement:  Crowdsourcing is impacting many areas of life, so why not commencement. An Ohio radio talkshow host decided that if you don’t want advice from just one commencement speaker, why not a crowd sourced compendium of advice (in both print and audio.


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CATEGORIES: Confidence, Decision Making, Discipline, First Impressions, Goal Setting, Inspiration, Leadership, Parenting, Personal Development, Personal Growth

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