Monday, June 8, 2015


What an exciting time for all the graduates. The papers are filled with pictures, quotes from the speakers and the graduates throwing their caps in the air. I wonder how many will remember who the speakers were and more importantly, what they said? I graduated from high school 51 years ago and don't remember any of the speakers or what they said. And when I graduated from college, the same thing. But its a time honored tradition and adds a great touch to the graduation ceremony.

A few summers ago I did a book signing at Where the Sidewalk Ends in Chatham on Cape Cod. A young college student worked there for the summer and she introduced me to the crowd.  Then she stood off to the side and listened to what I said. I basically talked about the book-5 Words and Then Some ( a great graduation present by the way), how it came about and what the key messages were. After I was done and had signed a bunch of books, she came up to me and said what a nice talk that was and I should do commencement speeches! Boy, that was a nice complement! No one has called though. But if I was contacted here is what I would say.

First of all I would congratulate them all. And I would mention that the bay has been crossed and now that great, big ocean lies before you and its called Life.  And that ocean contains a lot of reefs and sandbars. And you are going to need a strong moral compass to navigate your way through. Hopefully the values you have learned here at this wonderful school and from your family and that you have developed on your own, will guide you through on this challenging journey.

And what is your Vision-your dream? Do it, no matter what and write the goals that will help get you there, Studies have shown if you write your goals down, you are 10 times more likely to achieve  them. Put them on the medicine cabinet and every time you are brushing your teeth/flossing, they will keep you focused and those goals will stay in your sub-conscious and help make your Vision come alive.

And no matter what you do, where you go, WORK HARD It will pay off in the long run. Get to work early, stay a little late, but make sure you don't neglect your family, when that time comes. And have a POSITIVE ATTITUDE. You will be amazed at how this works and what it can accomplish. Emerson said "Nothing great can be accomplished without ENTHUSIASM. And I found that to be true in my 35 year career at IBM. I started out at a low level job at IBM, but by the end of my career, I had the highest level job you could have without being an executive and there were not too many executives at IBM. Every task I had, every job I had, I rolled up my sleeves and did it with Enthusiasm. Not too many could keep up.

 And things always aren't going to work out the way we hoped. We are going to get knocked down, hopefully not literally! We may not get that promotion at first. But we always have to PERSEVERE.  We can't give up. We have to focus on our dreams and goals. I went for 26 interviews after college before I got a job. But it wasn't  the job I interviewed for. It was a lower level job, at a lower salary. But I took it and away I went! It took me 3 years to get that original job I interviewed for. I didn't get a management job until several others had passed me by. But I persevered, kept at it and it all worked out. And no matter where you go, what you do, have FUN! I know you all are young and you think you are going to live forever. But in case no one has told you, we are all going to be dead a long time! So enjoy the ride. Take your job seriously and your family, but not yourself.

In conclusion, I only had B grades in high school and C's college. I come from humble beginnings and overcame personal challenges. I used to stutter but here I am today. I was shy with the girls, I didn't have any self confidence, I didn't believe in myself and we didn't have a lot of money. But once I got out of college, I did all the things I just talked about and guess what? Today I have been married for over 45 years to the most beautiful and wonderful lady on God's Green Earth. We have 3 wonderful children and now 3 grandchildren I had a great career at IBM for 35 years, we have a nice house and yard and lots of friends. What more could you ask for? I hope this all happens to each and everyone of you.

In the wonderful movie Field of Dreams, there is a great quote. " There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens itself up for a few seconds to show you what's possible." I hope in the last 10 minutes I have done that for you.

Thanks for listening. Congratulations again and Godspeed to each and everyone of you..