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So if graduation is “commencement”, as in a beginning, here’s my “cessation of vacation” address for your kids returning to classes later this month. Or entering as frosh. Because I like multi-purpose remarks, these tips are useful for moms and dads as well:
1. Ambition and determination trump talent. This is not to say that talent is not important. Of course it’s important. The point is that there are a lot of talented people out there who are failures. Why? Mostly because they lacked the determination and ambition to reach their goals. Another way of saying this is that ambition and determination will take limited talent much further than a lot of talent can travel with limited ambition and determination.
2. Never lower your expectations. Aim high and don’t settle. Ignore the defeatism of people who want to drag you down to their own limits. Misery loves company and these people want to recruit you.
3. Learn to reinvent yourself as need be, when circumstances call for it. Changing with the times is never easy and never convenient. But superior people have always had a knack for it. Which leads to the fourth and final point:
4. Reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than you are today. Don’t fall in love with your view of the world. Boardrooms and C-suites are full of people who haven’t had a new thought in 30 years. Stay agile enough to make course corrections on your path to your dreams and goals. The wider your scope, the better your decisions. Silicon Valley is littered with the remains of companies so enchanted by their strategy, products, and technology that they failed to notice the icebergs dead ahead. The ones that weren’t supposed to be there.

Be nice to others. And have fun.

When he’s not ranting on this site or directing global branding and communications for FilterMag,  Stan DeVaughn’s observations can be read on The Write Stuff along with those of agency compatriot Peter Davé.


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