Commencement Speech at University of Michigan 2013
When I was your age, we didn’t have the Internet in our pants. We didn’t even have the Internet not in our pants. That’s how bad it was.
When I woke up this morning and started writing my speech I was thinking about my first month on campus when I was a freshman and the football team went into the season ranked number…and we lost our first game 21-14…I’d like you to think of that soaring expectation followed by crushing disappointment as a metaphor for your next 20 minutes with me.
When I was your age, we didn’t have the Internet in our pants. We didn’t even have the Internet, not in our pants. That’s how bad it was. I sound like my grandfather. ‘We didn’t have teeth! There were no questions marks, we just had words!‘
Not only can you not plan the impact you’re going to have, you often won’t recognize it when you’re having it…The impact is what others frame for you and the world after it happens. The present is only what you’re experiencing and focused on right now…You cannot draw that path looking forward. You cannot draw any of your paths looking forward. You have to figure out what you love to do, what you have conviction about, and go do that.
So far you guys have gotten where you are by meeting and exceeding expectations. From here on out, you have to switch gears…There are no expectations. There is no script. When you’re doing what you love to do, you become resilient. You create a habit of taking chances on yourself. If you do what is expected of you and things go poorly, you will look to external sources for what to do next, because that will be your habit. You will be standing there frozen. If you are just filling a role you will be blindsided.
What I implore you to do is believe that if you make courageous choices and bet on yourself and put yourself out there that you will have an impact as a result of what you do and you don’t need to know now what that will be, or how that will happen, because nobody ever does.