If you’re lucky, you’ve heard an excellent commencement speaker either as a graduate yourself or attending somebody else’s graduation ceremony. I have no recollection of my high school speaker, I missed my undergraduate graduation ceremony because I was working, and I have only a brief memory of my law school speaker. Full disclosure: I’ve given a few graduation speeches myself and pray they were the least bit cogent and helpful. (Actually, as I think about it, I’m quite sure that they were the least bit cogent and helpful.)
So it was a pleasure to hear an excellent speech this past weekend from a Chicagoan who was disarmingly candid about his history, to wit:
- His class rank in high school was 311 out of 356.
- His GPA was a “sparkling” 2.1.
- He was cut from every sports team he tried out for.
- He spent most of his 4 years on academic probation.
- He was rejected from virtually every college he applied to, including the one where he was now the honored guest giving the commencement speech!
And yet, he went on to reach the pinnacle of his profession and is one of the most admired people in his field. Tomorrow I’ll reveal who the speaker was and give some of his insights that I wish I had heard years ago, as I was about to start my work life.