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Commencement—the beginning of life changes   

2009-06-18 21:32:53|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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mencement is that rite of passage where mostly young people stare up at the speaker and patiently tolerate one final lecture before they have signed evidence that they have completed their studies and are ready to take on the world.

I had the privilege of being the commencement speaker for all the MBA graduates at the University of Southern California in May. I gave them a refresher course on important topics including education, networking, adversity, change, communication, ethics and, finally, success.

A large chunk of the speech was devoted to change, a word we've heard a million times in recent months. Times change, I cautioned them—as if they didn't already know. And so must they, if they are to survive and thrive.

I referenced a YouTube video that Sony played at an executive conference this year. It points out how dramatically the world has changed and is changing:

  • China will soon become the #1 English-speaking-country in the world.
  • 300 million people play basketball in China—the same number of people who live in the United States. I was amazed to initially learn this fact when I attended the Olympic Games in China last summer.
  • The 25 percent of India's population with the highest IQ is greater than the total population of the United States. Translation: India has more honors kids than America has kids.
  • We are living in times of exponential change. There are 31 billion searches on Google every month. In 2006, this number was less than a billion.
  • For students starting a four-year technical degree, half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study.

Change certainly includes changes in jobs. When I graduated from college, the odds were high that I would have the same job for the rest of my life. After a brief stint learning the business on someone else's dime, I bought a struggling envelope manufacturing company when I was twenty-six, and I still have it more than 40 years later.

Nowhere is this truer than in careers. We now know that today's grads will have 3-5 career changes. And, the U.S. Department of Labor has updated that job change projection: Today's student can expect to have "10-14 jobs by the age of 38."

The Sony study I mentioned earlier says that the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2009 experts contend did not exist in 2004. The Department of Labor estimates that one in four workers has been with their current employer for less than one year. One in two has been there less than five years! Firms are choosier because they can afford to be. If job candidates want to get picked these days, they must be prepared to satisfy very picky people.

The amount of change is overwhelming—in demographics, technology, standards and the employment market. But every time I reflect on change, I always think about how certain principles endure.

Don't wait until it's too late to change, I warned the graduates. Start to take the true measure of your success now. What do you possess that you can offer to other people, to your community, to the world? To simply ask the question, "How can I make a difference?" is to answer it, because the answer is to never let yourself stop asking the question. Some people succeed because they are destined to, but most people succeed because they are determined to.

Being rich isn't about money. Being rich is a state of mind. Some of us, no matter how much money we have, will never be free enough to take the time to stop and enjoy the fruits of our labors. And some of us will be rich without ever being more than a paycheck ahead of the game.

I challenged this USC class, and I challenge all 2009 graduates to:

  • Never stop learning.
  • Believe in yourself, even when no one else does.
  • Find a way to make a difference, because if you do all these things, odds are good you'll change the times you live in and the world around you!
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