There are few occasions in life that are as special as graduation. Diligently working to get to the inspirational ceremony is truly an amazing voyage. These occasions are a platform for those who attend to hear and see something that which will live forever, the keynote speaker’s wisdom.
Many successful and famous people have been a part of the experience of commencement as motivational speakers. Their influence and validation during graduation is something most people remember for the rest of their lives. Their speeches not only enlighten and inspire the graduates, but also touch everyone who attends.
Michael S. Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Computer Corporation, was the keynote speaker at University of Texas at Austin in 2003. In his now legendary words, Dell said, “And now you’ve accomplished something great and honorable and important, and it’s time for you to move on to what’s next. But you must not let anything deter you from taking those first steps. You have an abundance of opportunities before you—but don’t spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity, that you miss the right opportunity. Recognize that there will be failures, and acknowledge that there will be obstacles. But you will learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others, for there is very little learning in success.”
Another moving speaker, Bill Gates, had a different approach for his addressees at Harvard in 2007. Gates said, “The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity. If we can really see a problem, which is the first step, we come to the second step: cutting through the complexity to find a solution. Finding solutions is essential if we want to make the most of our caring. If we have clear and proven answers anytime an organization or individual asks ‘How can I help?,’ then we can get action – and we can make sure that none of the caring in the world is wasted. The final step – after seeing the problem and finding an approach – is to measure the impact of your work and share your successes and failures so that others learn from your efforts. From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”