Career Success Advice from CEO Commencement Speeches

Bloomberg Business Week had some interesting career success advice from CEOs that was given in commencement addresses recently.  I thought that these five might interest you…

“Find a way to say yes to things.  Say yes to invitations to a new country.  Say yes to meeting new friends.  Say yes to learning a new language, picking up a new sport.  Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job.  Yes is how you find your spouse, and even your kids.  Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means that you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference in your life, and likely in others’ lives as well.  Yes is a tiny word that can do big things.  Say it often.”

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman Google, University of California at Berkeley, May 12, 2012

“I hope you came to this great university with more in mind that getting a degree that would help maximize your earning power.  Let me be clear.  Making money is good.  I’m all for it.  I have been blessed in ways, I never imagined, and I hope everyone has the same opportunities and success I’ve enjoyed.  But society needs more from you right now.  Some of the institutions our society relies on are in serious disrepair.”

Dan Akerson, CEO General Motors, Columbia Business School, May 13, 2012

“I encourage you to take the jobs where you will learn the most, and the other paycheck will take care of itself.”

Charlie Egan, Chairman Dish Network, Wake Forest University, May 21, 2012

“Whatever you strive for, don’t dwell on constructing the perfect plan for the flawless solution, because perfect can be the enemy of progress.  Have the confidence to forge ahead with a good enough plan, with imperfect knowledge.  Then continually adjust, adapt and learn.”

Greg Brown, Chairman Motorola Solutions,  Rutgers University, May 13, 2012

“I was in New York, and I answered a Coca Cola newspaper ad.  I spent the next nine months on trucks – in Atlanta, GA, Lubbock TX, Needham, MA, and outside Los Angeles.  It wasn’t glamorous work.  Getting up at 5:00 AM, going into supermarkets, bringing products in off the truck, staking it on shelves, and building displays.  And frankly, there were moments when I asked myself what I was doing,  But I always believed that today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better still.”

Muhtar Kent, Chairman Coca Cola, University of North Carolina Business School, May 13, 2012.

I find a lot of career success wisdom in these five quotes.  And, just like I do with my subscribers – to whom I send a success quote every day – I urge you to read them, think about them and then take some action on them.

Please take a minute to let us know what you think about any of these quote by leaving a comment.  If you have come across some great career advice in a commencement speech, feel free to share that too.

As always, thanks for reading my daily thoughts on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you check out my career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: Have you seen my membership site, My Corporate Climb?  It’s devoted to helping people just like you create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about it by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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