Josh Linkner - Walsh College 98th Commencement Ceremony

Uploaded by WalshCollege on 03.02.2012

Well, thank you so much, President Bergeron, Alumni, Faculty, Administrators and most importantly,
new graduates.
I was thinking recently about Superman. So Superman, he’s a pretty cool guy. Flies
around over tall buildings. Bulletproof. X-ray vision. This guy’s got it going on. At the
same time, he has Kryptonite. His weakness. The thing that strips him of his power. Additionally,
Superman, while having many fabulous super hero qualities. Doesn’t have them all. He
can’t spin webs, he can’t communicate with sea creatures, but nonetheless he’s
pretty successful, isn’t he? It got me thinking, can you imagine Superman
slumped over at a bar one day? Challenges out there, problems to solve and he says,
“Yeah, I know I can fly and all, but I can’t spin webs. I can’t communicate with sea
creatures. I’ve got this Kryptonite thing going on. I’m just going to stay here and,
and hide.” The thing is this: All of us, all of us, have
some super powers. Maybe you have a keen sense of humor. Maybe you have a touching sense
of empathy or you are terrific at math. We all have some super powers, yet none of us
have them all. Additionally, each of us have some form of Kryptonite, don’t we? As you
enter into this challenging world, what I would suggest to you, to yourselves, your
colleagues and even your families, that to reach your fullest potential, it’s time
to start celebrating the super powers that you have instead of criticizing yourself for
those that you don’t. The more we can connect with our strengths and celebrate and nurture
those strengths instead of beat ourselves up for the things that we’re not so great
at, the faster our path will be to success.
Today, the world is very different than when I graduated college around 20 years ago. Today
we live in a world of dizzying speed, exponential complexity and ruthless competition. The stock
market collapse of 2008 symbolized something much more than a market correction. What happened
is that the rules of the game have fundamentally changed. It’s been the end of an era and
it’s ringing in a new, a new one. Today an entirely new set of skills are needed in
order to win in this highly challenging environment. Despite these challenges we live in an era
of incredible opportunity and specifically right here in Southeast Michigan. In fact
I would argue that there is opportunity like none other in history. Because in the digital
age you can do incredible things right here in Detroit. It’s been said of this group
that you’re the most inspired and inspiring generation in all of history. And it’s time
to seize that opportunity. I’d like to share with you a passage from
a book called The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews. A wise man once said a journey of
a thousand miles begins with a single step. Knowing this to be true I am taking my step
today. For too long my feet have been tentative, shuffling left and right, more backward than
forward as my heart gauged the direction of the wind. The power to control direction belongs
to me. Today I will exercise that power. My course has been chartered. I have a decided
heart. I am passionate about my vision for the future. I will wake every morning with
an excitement about the new day and the opportunity that it holds. My thoughts and actions will
work in a forward motion, never sliding into the dark forest of doubt or the muddy quicksand
of self pity. I will freely give my vision of the future to others and as they see the
belief in my eyes, they will follow me. I will lay my head on my pillow at night happily
exhausted knowing that I have done everything in my power to move the mountains in my path.
As I sleep that same dream that dominates my waking hours will be with me in the dark.
Yes, I have a dream. It’s a great dream and I will never apologize for it. Neither
will I ever let it go. For if I did, my life would be finished. A person without a dream
never had a dream come true. I have a decided heart. I will not wait.
Over my career of the last 20 years I’ve been an entrepreneur. Probably because no
one would hire me. I’ve taken the path less traveled and that’s made all the difference.
Entrepreneurs change the world. And the thing is this: Whether you start your own business;
whether you raising a family; whether you are immersed in non-profit work and rebuilding
communities or whether you work for a large corporation, I would suggest to you today
with your Walsh graduate, with your Walsh degree that we all need to be entrepreneurs.
We don’t need to be the CEO of a start-up to be an entrepreneur because entrepreneurship
is a state of mind. You can be the entrepreneur of your own life.
I want you to think big. Take risks and do the never been done before. So, with that,
I’m a big fan of top 10 lists. You know, David Letterman got it right I suppose. And
I thought I would share with you a bit of advice. So I put together a top 10 list for
you to be your own entrepreneur. ‘Course my list has 11, ‘cause as Walsh graduates
we have to over deliver. So.
Anyway, my top 11 nuggets of advice for you here today. Number 1, put passion first. People
will constantly tell you what you should do. Instead of doing what others expect, follow
your own dreams and your own heart. You’ll be much happier and you’ll make the world
a better place as a result. Number 2, build your creativity muscle. This will be your
most important skill and will allow you to thrive and win. Develop your creativity early
and often and it will pay off big time. Number 3 don’t stumble over something behind you.
Regret is the worst human emotion since you can’t do a thing about the past. You’ll
make lots of mistakes along your journey but mistakes are nothing more than the portals
of discovery. Fail fast, learn and move on. Number 4 leave it better than you found it.
Every interaction, every meeting, very class, every project, every game, every relationship
leaves you with an opportunity and a choice. You can add value or remove it. Do the right
thing instead of the easy thing. You’ll be glad you did.
Number 5, reject limits. Break free from limits that others try to impose upon you. Your ideas,
creativity and potential are nearly limitless. Reach for the edges. Number 6, do or do not.
There is no try. This is a quote from Yoda. If you don’t know who Yoda is, ask your
parents about a movie called Star Wars. Simply put: Commit to your dreams and do whatever
it takes to reach them. Number 7, playing it safe is irresponsibly dangerous. The history
books you’ll read, most likely on your IPad will never talk about the people that lived
small. Those who take risks break the rules and create their own future are the ones that
make the biggest difference. Make your own mark and never let fear hold you back from
reaching your true potential. Number 8, embrace change. The world will continue
to change at breathtaking speeds. Those that get locked into one way of thinking are the
ones that get passed by. Standing still is the beginning of the end. So always keep yourself
open to new ideas. Number 9, be appreciative and humble. Einstein once wrote: “You can
live every day as if everything is a miracle or as if nothing is.” True that. Number
10, be a lifelong learner. Learning and growth does not end today. It begins. Continuously
sharpen your mind and devour knowledge. Learning constantly will enable your success in every
area of your life. And finally, number 11, have fun. Life is
meant to be savored. Enjoy every sip, sound and bite. I hope these 11 principles allow
you to not only drive your careers but also to drive our community. Here in Detroit, and
I say Detroit because Detroit represents the region, we have a responsibility. In fact,
the story of Detroit is an unfinished book. In Chapter 1 our city was born. And it was
all about entrepreneurship and innovation and creativity. Folks like Henry Ford put
our city on the map and allowed us to build institutions such as this and roads and skyscrapers.
But then chapter 2 came along. The title of chapter 2 was called the dark ages. And over
the last several decades we did exactly the opposite. We got away from creating. We got
away from innovating. We built stifling bureaucracies. Started pointing
fingers and casting blame. We stopped creating, we stopped innovating. Frankly, we stopped
winning. In Chapter 2 we ended that chapter as a national punch line and our hometown
was spinning with hopelessness and despair. But now, today, chapter 3 begins. Chapter
3 is an unfinished chapter in which we all have a choice. We can chose to long for the
good old days gone by. Point fingers, cast blame or we can do something about it. Chapter
3 will end, I believe, at a much higher note than chapter 1. Because I sincerely believe
our best days are yet to come. We are in the midst of an incredible rebirth. And I will
tell you, every day I feel such a privilege to be part of rebuilding this great region.
When we reconnect to those entrepreneurial roots, when we reconnect to the spirit of
creativity and innovation Detroit will once again rise and this time to even greater heights.
So as you leave here today I will say this: This is your moment. Right now it’s time.
It’s time to do the never been done before. It’s time to shatter conventional wisdom.
It’s time to stick your finger in the eye of the complacent incumbents. It’s time
to let your imagination soar. Unleash your creativity and seize the enormous opportunity
that’s waiting for all of us just outside those doors.
Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the entire Walsh community, heartfelt congratulations
to this graduating class. Thank you.