Commencement Speech for 2021 Graduates.
You already have everything you need!
When Dean Ted at Hult International Business School, San Francisco asked me to prepare a graduation speech, I had trouble determining the lessons I wanted to impart. I was at a loss for words, which is rare for me 😆. I began to think about my time at Hult (I graduated from Hult San Francisco in 2015) and knowing everything Hult has given me, my professors have given me, this education has given me, I didn't think I had any additional wisdom to share. And then it hit me and that is why my aim today is to make you realize what you all already have. You are all superheroes with three superpowers.
Your first power is a tolerance for ambiguity.
When I became a founder at 16 in India, I failed a lot. No, wait. I’ll change the words. I experimented a lot. Some of those experiments in my early founder journey did well thanks to the guidance of my mom. Many tanked! As a person who loved perfection, strategy, and planning, this failure was disheartening to me. There were many aspects of my founder journey that were outside of my control.
And then I remembered my dad’s lesson: He told me that life is always going to be uncertain. Those who succeed have a tolerance for ambiguity, they look at life’s uncertainty and say “I will be ok”.
So when I moved to San Francisco to join Hult as a foreign student or every time I was rejected by an investor or faced the uncertainty of whether I could afford rent next month, I recalled my father’s advice and concluded that I would be ok.
But here is the thing!
If I have “X” amount of Tolerance for Ambiguity, YOU HAVE “10X” for what you have overcome in the last year.
You have survived a pandemic, received a degree, and prepared for a new life in the most ambiguous uncertain time in the last hundred years. This tolerance for ambiguity is now baked into your body. There is nothing that can shake you now!
To understand your next superpower, I want you to look right and then look left. The people sitting next to you comprise your second superpower. You may start companies with them, you may work with them. You might even build a life and a family together.
The Hult (or your college) network is indeed powerful. Today I have friends and colleagues in over 100 countries. I can understand and empathize with people who are very different from me, with values and experiences, and perspectives that are very different than mine. The Hult experience made me open-minded and innovative. This network keeps me open-minded and innovative. Your network sets you apart in the workforce and will improve your path in life. And it is my honor to welcome you to the Hult Alumni Association.
Your third superpower is access to and understanding of, technology. Here in Silicon Valley, we are so immersed in it that we might not be able to see how much we know, like fish in water.
When I arrived in Silicon Valley, I scavenged for news and trends about technological innovations especially in entrepreneurship and education, my two passions. I do not need to follow Elon Musk and other Silicon Valley pioneers because, instead, I can stand on their shoulders.
By studying in San Francisco, the technology capital of the world, you have a 10 year head-start on understanding the using the next big innovations.
Blockchain, virtual reality, green energy, neural marketing, space exploration, digital analytics, python. These are not just phrases for you. They mean something to you and that is power. And you have it!
The key question facing you right now, in this room, is whether you can see these superpowers within you for yourself. Do you recognize your tolerance for ambiguity, the strength of your network, and your command of new technology? Once you see them and celebrate them in yourself, can you use them once in a while? And if you can use them once in a while, can you use them once a week? Maybe starting on Monday?
So as you walk out of those doors today, I want you to feel empowered and prepared for the exciting future that YOU have the strength to build!
Class of 2020, 2021! Congratulations and all the best!
Love and Light,