Wisdom Amid The Pomp & Circumstance

Steve Jobs’ Stanford speech is considered a graduation classic.

Before we drift too far from graduation season, we wanted to share some of our favorite grad speech snippets.
We hope you enjoy and we wish our local graduates all the best in the years to come.

Steve Jobs Stanford 2005

“Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

J.K. Rowling, Harvard 2008

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me,” she said. “[R]ock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

 

Winston Churchill, 1941 Harrow School

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

 

Jeff Bezos, 2010, Princeton

“Tomorrow, in a very real sense, your life — the life you author from scratch on your own — begins.

How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?

Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?

Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?

Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?

Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?

Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong, or will you apologize?

Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?

Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?

When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?

Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?

Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?

I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.”

 

Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) Lake Shore College 1977 – a 75 second commencement address.

“My uncle ordered popovers

from the restaurant’s bill of fare.

And when they were served,

he regarded them

with a penetrating stare …

Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom

as he sat there on that chair:

“To eat these things,”

said my uncle,

“you must exercise great care.

You may swallow down what’s solid …

BUT …

you must spit out the air!”

 

And …

as you partake of the world’s bill of fare,

that’s darned good advice to follow.

Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.

And be careful what you swallow.”

 

Stephen Colbert, 2006 Knox College

“Cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or be disappointed in us. Cynics always say no … for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.”

 

Conan O’Brien, Harvard 2000

“I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of the Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good. So that’s what I wish for all of you—the bad as well as the good. Fall down. Make a mess. Break something occasionally. Know that your mistakes are your own unique way of getting to where you need to be. And remember that the story is never over.”

Tim Cook, 2019 Tulane

“Don’t waste time on problems that have been solved. Don’t get hung up on what other people say is practical. Instead, steer your ship into the choppy seas. Look for the rough spots, the problems that seem too big, the complexities that other people are content to work around. It’s in those places that you will find your purpose. It’s there that you can make your greatest contribution.”

Inspiration…

We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to acknowledge graduation season.

As students in Delray Beach and Boca Raton graduate high school and college we wish them well and offer a sampling of our favorite commencement quotes. The first few quotes are from graduations held this year. We also include some of our all-time favorites. We hope they inspire you to do great things. Remember commencement means to begin. So while you may graduate, you are really beginning the journey. Enjoy.

“Summon your compassion, your curiosity, your empathy towards others and your commitment to service. Give more than you receive and I promise you, it will come back to you in ways you can’t possibly imagine.” Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO at Arizona State University.

“Build resilience in yourselves. When tragedy or disappointment strikes, know that you have the ability to get through absolutely anything.” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO at Virginia Tech.

“No matter what other work you do, every day, if you find the issues that matter to you and you get in the fight, you will build a life with more heart flutters and fewer don’t-make-me-move moments.” U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren at UMass-Amherst.

“Create. Don’t wait around for people to give you things to do. If you’re a writer, write; artist, paint; builder, build! Opportunities will come to you if you create them.” Comedian Maz Jobrani, UC-Berkeley

“No matter how cliché it may sound, you will never truly be successful until you learn to give beyond yourself. Empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence.” Actor Will Ferrell at USC.

The Classics…

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Henry David Thoreau.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

 Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It is not the size of the arena in which you find yourself that counts; it is what you do with it.” Dr. Irene C. Kassorla.

Magic

Not the best example, but we got your attention didn't we?

Not the best example, but we got your attention didn’t we?

College graduation is a profound moment for a parent.
In our family, we dreamed and planned for this moment before our kids were born. That’s how much we value education.
But the value of a college education has been challenged of late.

Prognosticators are predicting the “disruption” of traditional higher education and I suppose some of that is already happening with MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

But while online education has it’s advantages it will be hard to replace the value of actually going to college and learning to live on your own. The internet is amazing but it cannot replace the real world.

Nor can it adequately replace the relationships you build by living, studying and experiencing college alongside other people.
Whether it’s developing a relationship with a professor, pledging a fraternity, attending a game, learning to live with a roommate or hanging with friends at the student union there is just nothing like the real thing.
I was reminded of that this weekend when I attended the graduations of my son and daughter from UF and USF respectively.
I know I am not alone in witnessing their transformations from uncertain high school graduates to impressive young adults.
Yes they learned a lot in the classroom; skills that will enable them to get started in life. But they learned just as much if not more from the experience itself.
Learning to be an independent adult can’t happen in the cloud or on any device regardless of how smart.
That’s what the essence of the college experience  is all about and the smart schools will invest in the relationships they can develop with their students.
What does that mean?
Asking faculty to engage with and in some cases even collaborate with students. FAU’s new VP of Research Dan Flynn is encouraging collaboration by creating opportunities for professors to help students launch businesses and pursue joint research projects.
Invest in experiential learning. Give students real world access and experiences. Lynn University is famous for this, providing students opportunities with hands on opportunities including a recent behind the scenes trip to the NCAA Final Four for sports administration majors.
Promote meaningful opportunities to work in the community. And the world is the community. Again, our local schools are involved in community projects at home and abroad.
Invest in place. Makes universities attractive, walkable, dense. Promote collisions. There are opportunities galore in this regard.
Collisions can happen online and they can be cool. But real world collisions are magical.
Yes, magical.
Magical always wins.
Create magic and you will never be disrupted. Ignore change and you won’t be disrupted you’ll be destroyed.

The smart schools will iterate and evolve and create real and virtual experiences leveraging technology but always including a real world experience.

You simply can’t beat the real thing.

Thoughts on Graduation

mortar

Nearly 30 years later, I can barely remember crossing the stage for my college diploma at SUNY Oswego.

Frankly, it’s a blur. (Which means I had a good time in college).

But I do remember graduation weekend. My parents made the long drive from Eastern Long Island to upstate NY and stayed overnight in my off campus apartment.

My late mom– three years younger than I am today– slept on a mattress on the floor in my room. All I had was a mattress, and I kept a towel under my door to keep the mice at bay.

It was a lovely place.

The wind off Lake Ontario would whip through the walls and my dad had to use a wrench to turn the shower on. Yes, we are talking rustic upstate charm. But I loved it.

Still, after a few winters on Lake Ontario (where winter is 8-10 months a year) I knew I would be heading somewhere warm.

California or Florida. One or the other. I was 21 years old.

This weekend, we are heading to Gainesville and Tampa to celebrate the college graduations of two of our children. Samantha earned a special education degree from the University of South Florida and Ben an accounting degree from the University of Florida.

They worked hard, were well prepared after graduating Atlantic High and really blossomed at college as students and as people. We couldn’t be prouder.

Both are passionate about their chosen paths; Ben for accounting and business and Sam for teaching and kids.

I was less certain.

Other than wanting out from under the snow, I wasn’t really focused on a career.

I loved to write and was interested in business but I was still waiting for some answers.

I thought I would write for a newspaper and one day I would try and own a weekly. I did not aspire to work for the New York Times but I was very interested in community journalism.

I had never heard of Delray Beach but after canvassing California in vain and a year working for newspapers in Binghamton, N.Y. I was ready to give Delray a whirl when I got called for an interview at the old Monday-Thursday papers headquartered on East Rogers Circle in Boca.

I remember driving to the area on A1A and marveling at the palm trees and the big oceanfront mansions. I left early from my friend’s parent’s condo in Lauderhill giving myself plenty of time to find the newspaper’s offices. I took the leisurely route across the Linton Boulevard Bridge and then north on U.S 1.  until I reached Atlantic Avenue.

It was June 1987 and Delray was a vastly different place. Not much happening in those days but I found the town appealing. There was Ken and Hazel’s, the Colony Hotel and The Phoenix. There was the Spanish River Inn (where the Marriott Residence Inn stands) and the Arcade Tap room.

Very nice, I thought; a tad sleepy but the skies were blue and I was out of upstate NY.

Finding myself with some time to kill, I went south to the old Boca mall on US 1 and I remember going inside and finding a bookstore.

Then it was time to find East Rogers Circle so off I went. I got lost. Really lost.

I drove up and down Congress Avenue and couldn’t find East Rogers Circle.

This was pre GPS days and when I stopped at a local gas station they had no idea where I was trying to go.

I went to a pay phone and called the paper asking for help. A kind woman gave me directions and I found the paper off of Clint Moore Road. I was late, nervous and embarrassed.

I was also sweating through my cheap suit in the hot summer weather. But I got the job and started a few weeks later as a general assignment reporter in Delray. That meant planning and zoning board meetings, city commission marathons, looking through police reports and trying to learn what a CRA was.

A day after I started we were herded into a meeting. The paper was sold. Whitney Communications had sold us to Worrell Enterprises.

Yes the same Worrell that would end up purchasing the Sundy House a number of years later.

At the time, I knew the Sundy House as the former home of Delray’s first mayor. When I got the Delray job, my editor gave me an old chamber guide and I spent my first night on the job reading about the city’s history.

I worked for Worrell Enterprises for 10 years and never met the company chairman Tom Worrell until I was on the city commission and he tapped me on the shoulder one night after a ribbon cutting at the House of Vintage on South Swinton. We went across the street to the Sundy House and had a glass of wine.

All of this is a long winded way of saying that life is very unpredictable in a magical way.

And that the places, jobs and people that play a role in your life often don’t show up until later chapters. Delray? Who knew. Newspapers. Business. Politics. Vague notions.

So as I watch the graduation ceremonies this weekend I will wonder where the road will take my children. They seem to be on a path. But life is roller coaster ride wonderful and also  has a way of throwing us some curveballs too.  I hope serendipity will be kind, but I’m confident they are prepared for the journey. And I hope I will be around long enough to see many more chapters.