Glossophobia is still the world’s #1 fear, yet we have people who seem to have been born with a golden mic in their mouths. They wow us all the time. One of the best seasons to feed on the genius that oratory can be in the commencement speech cycle. They come once a year can carry platitudes and/or conjecture, but often they are delivered by people from all walks of life to inspire and challenge that next generation of leaders. Here are 2 that I took time to dive into…
Mark Zuckerberg – As a young man growing up and working in Africa’s nascent technology space, this man, perhaps together with Google, have had the biggest influence on my generation. I love that he is coming into Africa to see how far a dollar really goes.
“Change starts local. Even global changes start small — with people like us. In our generation, the struggle of whether we connect more, whether we achieve our biggest opportunities, comes down to this — your ability to build communities and create a world where every single person has a sense of purpose.”
My work is in Leadership development, and for me these words cannot ring any truer. If you have heard me say it once, you have heard me say it again, I love computers and all the magic but I love people more. If we can give people a sense of purpose, build a community around service, we cannot get it wrong.
“Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook.”
In his book, Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi writes – Be brave enough to put it all out there, stuff that worked and stuff that didn’t, with your insights on why and how to fix it for next time.
Zuckerberg is famous for dropping out of Havard, but that is not his most proud failure – its facemash, a prank site he put up which drew attention of the ad board. As he awaited his fate, he met Priscilla and as he says, “ But without Facemash I wouldn’t have met Priscilla, and she’s the most important person in my life, so you could say it was the most important thing I built in my time here.”
Oh how we need to teach the virtue of failing smart.
“I hope you find the courage to make your life a blessing.”
Donald J. Trump – Quite frankly, as a non-citizen global health advocate working in the expensive bubble that New York is, I happen to share a home city with the man many of my ilk have come to hate. But he is still the leader of the free world, so we got to listen.
“Adversity makes you stronger. Don’t give in. Don’t back down. And never stop doing what you know is right. Nothing worth doing ever, ever, ever came easy. And the more righteous you are, the more opposition that you will face. “
…this after the rhetoric on how the media has treated him and his political sojourn thus far. That’s not how the speech begins, though; he dishes out quite many thankful remarks to leaders, and graduates alike. He also pardoned cadets for minor offences and offered them a clean slate. I wish that life and the rest of us did this for our young people – that at the turn of important milestones is NOT the only opportunity to turn a new page, and a clean slate, but that you have that opportunity daily. Yes, every time the sun comes up, it’s a new slate, a new chance to make it better.
“Just days from now, you will put this vital skill into the service of your ships, your sectors, and your country. You’ll serve as deck watch officers on our amazing Coast Guard cutters. You’ll bring law and order to the dangerous waters as boating officers. You will block illegal shipments of cash, weapons and drugs. You will battle the scourge of human trafficking — something that people are not talking about, one of the big, big plagues of the world. Not our country only — the world.
The call to service continues to ring out, as if a call to this generation. I could not agree more. Service is the new way to work; service is the new entry to employment.
Americans will place their trust in your leadership, just as they have trusted in generations of Coast Guard men and women, with respect for your skill, with awe at your courage, and with the knowledge that you will always be ready. You are Always Ready.
For a man under so much fire, this speech came off as very composed. Perhaps thoughtful of his first world trip, and realizing the opportunity to speak a less combative audience, Mr Trump did make some strong remarks which are clearly of a bigger vision than his own political lifeline.
You can read the full speech text.