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Commencement

[June 29, 2023, Durham, UK]


Grand classics provide some invaluable advice for young graduates thrown into the professional world. They include Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ (1532), Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ (Act I, Scene III, 59-80)(1601), and Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ (1910). I suggest you become acquainted with them, if you have not already, and keep them within reach.


And maybe you will find these simple thoughts from my lived experience helpful:


Don’t wait for passion to come to you: Passion is a pure fabrication of the mind. Invent it!


Be a ‘player,’ not a ‘victim’: roll with the challenges thrown your way (never forgetting to comply with all rules and regulations.) Leave the moaning to others.


Learn hard: The next few years will be the most formative of your professional life. Don’t listen to those who promote a work-life balance before you have a family if you choose to have one. It is a trap set by the uncommitted. Give it all! And…


‘Give’ more than you ‘take:’ Give, give, and give without counting – in friendship and at work. It is one of the most fulfilling acts, one that is underappreciated by many.


Be patient: I see more and more young people running sprints without taking a breath. They don’t understand that going too fast will slow them down. The real enemy is procrastination.


Seek advice: People around you are full of relevant experience and wisdom. Ask them for guidance, learn from them, and make them stakeholders by bringing them into your world. You will be amazed by how much support you will get.


Be competitive: Competing is not an option. It is an obligation because, as a fact of life, people will always be competing with you. See them, watch them, and do not underestimate them. In particular, beware of performative activists. Even to this day, I struggle to push them away.


Create your own brand: Stay in close touch with economic, political, cultural, and technological trends. Use that proximity to build and ‘market’ something different by leveraging your strengths, e.g., intellect, expertise, and creativity. This is how you can maximize your contribution to society.


Be kind and generous: Refrain from expressing negative views about others. It will poison your mind. Remember that each one of us is someone else’s [idiot], as in another celebrated grand classic, the ‘Dîner des cons’ (1998); And, above all


Take good care of your health: food, music, books, travel, sleep, community, and exercise will help you retain a healthy perspective on important matters.


Whenever I found myself imbalanced, it was because I did not abide by one or more of these principles.


If you do not relate to them, find those that will speak to you and define you. Once you do, build discipline around them and perfect your game. Relentlessly.’

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