Commencement Speech to Northwood University Graduates
Founder, President, The Windquest Group
Thank you, President Pretty and congratulations to the Board of Trustees on presenting
I'm proud to be with you as a graduate, as an alum, and now to have joined your class.
I also want to commend the mission of Northwood to encourage free and ethical commerce
It's my job today to be part of a long tradition … the tradition of the commencement
So, I will try to distill it down as quickly as I can for you.
Do you realize that 49% of the fatalities, of people who are killed in automobile accidents,
But maybe more importantly, I suggest, is to not forget to buckle your seatbelt because
First, it's going to tell me a lot about how you respect yourself. And, how can I respect
You know, there are a lot of people in this world who respect themselves too much,
Name a few. Pick my personal favorite, Donald Trump, who takes himself very seriously.
Now I will contradict myself just a little…don't take yourself too seriously, but take yourself seriously enough. Because you have an extraordinary faculty here that have invested in you; you have parents and family around you and friends around you that have supported you.
Second, if you don't respect yourself, how are you going to be able to respect others?
How can you possibly realize the strengths and the gifts and the talents of others, if you
I have a management theory, for those of you that are studying management. I call it the "Theory of Sufficient Incompetence."
As a manager, one of our challenges is to become sufficiently incompetent in what we used
So, don't forget to buckle your seatbelt, because it's an indication that you not only respect yourself, but that you respect others.
And a third thing that I would point out to you… if you make the decision not to buckle your seatbelt, it's going to tell me that I should question your ability to evaluate risk. If you're
Life is full of risk. I think we all know that. Life itself is a risk.
•You have a 1 in 850,000 probability of drowning in your bathtub
•1 in 3.6 million probability of dying from a bee sting
•1 in 6 million possibility of being killed by lightning
Life is full of risks. Evaluating them and understanding them is the key. Now, some of you
Well, surprisingly to some of you, I'm very willing to take risks. I've taken them all my life
•I'm licensed and regularly fly a jet airplane at 500 MPH and 45,000 feet in the air
•I'm licensed and flew up here today in a helicopter at 150 MPH and only 500 feet up
•I've sailed countless thousands of miles in the open ocean, racing sailboats around the world
•How many of you have jumped off a bridge on the south island of New Zealand, bungee jumping?
•Or, the best indication I have of my high risk tolerance, is the fact that I ran for Governor of Michigan … as a Republican!
That shows you I'm fully prepared to take risks!
But do you evaluate the risks you take? When you buckle your seatbelt, you're telling me something about how you evaluate risks. Take them. Enjoy them. I do, every day. But, enjoy them wisely.
Why is that important? Well, there are two reasons.
The first reason is, because this broken world needs you. It needs you to take care of yourself.
Now, we act as though today is the first day that the world's been broken. But let's be honest, the world's been broken for many tens of thousands of years. It just happens to be a little more broke today. But our challenge and responsibility as leaders is to go out and try to make the world a little less broken.
And those of us who've been in the fight for some time, we need you in the game, Graduates.
We need you in the game.
Buckle your seatbelt, so you take care of yourself. So, you show up at work every day, and
Every day isn't going to be a big difference, but life is a series of small steps that will take us
And the final reason I want to encourage you to buckle your seatbelt, is because there are exciting, exciting times ahead.
•You are prepared
•You are motivated
•And you are supported by all of those who are here, standing with you.
That's not to suggest there isn't going to be turbulence. I've never flown a flight where there hasn't been turbulence.
There's some turbulence right now in the economy and finding a job. You know that.
There's some turbulence right now because the career that many of you have chosen, in business and business leadership, is not held in the same high regard it may have been
And there's some turbulence out there as the government, and just about everybody,
But keep your seatbelt buckled, because you'll be able to fly safely through the turbulence. Because there are exciting and wonderful times ahead.
Let me reflect with you, if I might, some statistics of what life was like 100 years ago, and how much has changed in the world that we live in.
100 Years Ago:
•47 years was the life expectancy, a sobering thought for me as I stand here at age 53
•14% of homes had bathtubs
•8% homes had telephones
•8000 cars were on the road with 144 miles of paved roadway
•The tallest building in the world was the Eiffel Tower
•The population of Las Vegas was 30
•6% of the United States had a high school diploma
Has the world changed in a hundred years? Oh, yes it has. Just since I have stepped to this podium,
•Fully one-third of those dressed in caps and gowns have texted each other about the party after the graduation ceremony is over;
•The other third have been Tweeting about boring commencement speakers and letting everyone follow their thoughts;
•And the final third have updated their Facebook pages to reflect that they are now graduates, not students.
More excitement is in store for you, and extraordinary possibilities lie before you.
So, don't forget, buckle your seatbelt. You're going to need it.
And maybe, just maybe, every time you get in your car, or you get in a plane and you