I remember graduating college twenty one years ago. The difference is that I never actually sat in your seats because I chose not to attend my college graduation and opted to receive my diploma in the mail.
I graduated during the midst of a recession – the year was in 1991. I was angry and frustrated and like many of you, I was unemployed with no prospects of a job and no clue as to how I was going to pay my bills. I resented – and this resentment kept me from attending my own college graduation – a memory that I lost forever. And a lesson learned – don’t ever let your anger or pride or any of the seven deadly sins keep you from something spectacular.
So now you look back at your accomplishment and the hard work that it took to get you here. You feel proud and you are excited – you deserve a pat on the back, a kiss on the forehead and a round of applause [everyone claps]. But you look towards the future and it doesn’t seem as promising as you had hoped it would be, when you imagined this moment four years ago. But I am here to tell you that the future is more promising than ever.
Our country is going through a transition. The paradigm is shifting and you are critical to the momentum and implementation of this shift. Traditional jobs are losing their appeal. The sectors which historically attracted the top talent no longer can offer what is sought after by your generation – the ability to make a real impact.
The traditional titans of industry are bleeding out; death by a thousand cuts. Corporate bureaucracy weighs them down and stifles their agility and their ability to innovate and organically grow. Government regulation will soon come in and deliver the final blow – the ice age is coming and it will soon extinct the dinosaurs.
But after the thaw, there will be a new glory for America. We will come back bolder and stronger than ever. We will build again and we will grow. And each and every one of you is critical to this mission and will become an instrumental part of its implementation. But it is now up to you to help move this forward. Take risks and make this leap of faith. Walk towards the industries that will drive change for our country and run from those that are slowly dying.
When I graduated college, I was full of fear. I longed for stability and safety and traded that for a profession that can make a real impact. I sacrificed greatness. And now after years of my own evolution I find myself in a career that offers little gratification and leaves the soul empty. But your generation has less fear than mine and each generation forward has less fear than the last. Don’t choose this same path – chose greatness.