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David McCullough Jr. Commencement Speech - What Entrepreneurs Can Learn

by The Idea Age Consultant
(Denver, Colorado)

I was just amazed as I listened to this speech. It was exactly what I'd tried (and largely failed) to articulate to a young relative of mine, as well as to other mentees of mine who I felt were growing up in the relative privilege of the American experience, without the requisite gratitude or responsiblity.

Here are some of my first thoughts about this:

1. The Speed of Ideas In The "Idea Age"

This video was only uploaded 1 day ago (as of the time of this writing) and already has 248,664 views on YouTube alone (I saw it on a Yahoo article that linked to the YouTube video). This video has gone viral simply because of the power and the delivery of the ideas in a less than 13 minute speech.

What is the message you want to share to the world? to your network? to your customers?

Are you making sure that you are capturing that message in a delivery-ready, share-ready format?

Do you have an online platform for propagating your message?

2. I wish I could deliver a speech like this guy!

We (entrepreneurs, executives and other fellow "strivers" in the epic of commerce) should all be so lucky if we can craft such a great message; such an amazing and engaging call to action even once in our lives.

It was all there... the attention getting humor and metaphor right at the get go, the important and well-reasoned big idea, the difficult message wrapped in a blanket of warm oratory and somewhat evident affection - even love.

The main idea here is not a new one. Various authors and public commentators have spoken about navel-gazing and increasingly narcissistic attitudes and behaviors exhibited by some members of the X and Y generations, assigning the blame in many cases to Youtube, Facebook, or ... the internet!

The same point is communicated in a famous statement often wrongly attributed (apparently) to Bill Gates, says "your grandfathers had a name for hamburger flipping...they called it opportunity".

3. The World Is Flat, Close... And Crowded!

His reminder to his graduating class is also a great reminder to every entrepreneur and executive out there. You are not alone, you are not special and your most important value (to us) and legacy (to those who will come after us) is what you contribute to others and to the world.

Fairly or unfairly, we care not a bit about what you contribute to yourself. You would do well to remember that.

Also, the traditional "outsiders" the other 6.xx billion are coming back! Whether you look at increased liberalization of trade policies, the speed and efficiency of global transport, or the "small world" connections created by the internet, we have all gotten closer and more connected - with long-term implications for everything from political upheavals and revolutions to structural economic change.

Make up your mind to DEAL with the world, because the world is looking to deal (or make a deal) with you. For better or for worse, we're in this together.

4. The Strangest, Most Powerful Marketing Appeal

In the business of marketing goods, services and ideas, one of the strangest appeals also happens to be the strangest as well.

I call it the "challenge" appeal.

  • It was the appeal hidden the message by Churchill ("Blood, sweat and tears")

  • It was the appeal from John F. Kennedy exhorting a generation to "ask not what you country can do for you"

  • It was also the hidden appeal from David McCollough ("Be more than ME FIRST, ME ONLY")

In an era when business leaders have endangered our collective welfare with greed-based decisions, it is a call to action to be better.

This is a call that you can communicate to your partners, your team members (if you have any), and yes, even to your customers.

If we all take up the challenge to do better, and even BE better, we'll make this a much better world for those who come after us.

Sorry to be so preachy here, but these were the unedited thoughts topmost on my mind.

Your Idea Age Business Consultant

P.s. "If you'd like to share a response, go ahead and submit your thoughts here (use "Re: Commencement speech" in the title), and I'll post it and link to all responses from right here so everyone can read it.

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