Written by Michael Beckerman on May 31, 2012
in Organizational Design

It’s been a long time since I put on make-up, on a Friday night. But some occasions just call for it. Like last Friday, when I found myself under the studio lights on the set of TVO’s The Agenda. I was invited to be a panelist on the show to discuss advice you won’t hear at most university commencement addresses.

Not your parents’ commencement speech
Inspiration for the discussion came from Charles Wheelan’s book 10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You. Wheelan was also one of the panelists and described how he had given the “anti commencement” address at Dartmouth. He didn’t serve up the predictable “hope” and “optimism” spiel students were accustomed to hearing. He offered some humour, irreverence and a healthy dose of reality. Here are a few highlights:

  • Your time spent in  fraternity basements was well spent;
  • Some of your worst days lie ahead;
  • Don’t make the world worse;
  • Your parents don’t really want what’s best for you; and
  • Don’t try to be great.

My two-cents
While I appreciate many of the points Charles made, I don’t necessarily share his scepticism. As someone who works in the creative industry and interacts with young people – some fresh out of college and university – I can say with first-hand experience new grads are ambitious, smart and have an entrepreneurial spirit not found within other generations. This was the gist of my argument on the show. In fact, I think it’s this sense of optimism that makes Ariad one of the best places to work. It’s the passion we have for the work we do and our ability put ourselves in the shoes of the customer.

My 15-Minutes of fame

Once I forget about the lights, producers, sound piece and monitors, it is actually a bit of fun to bump elbows with the likes of Janice Stein. But in all seriousness being the company of such a diverse mix of experts reaffirmed my trust in the younger generation of creative problem solvers.

Oh, and I did remember to take my make-up off before leaving the studio.

Curious how the show went?

You can view the full-panel discussion online. Take a look.

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