Witnessing a Beginning of the End

“You’ll never again be as ugly, alone, and confused yet fully supported as you are now,” said senior class president M.H. “You’ve lived a thousand lives. Waded your way through the love. Survived and thrived. Now go, and teach the things you’ve taught me to the rest of the world.”

The class president’s opening speech set the tone for the most cramped Westminster graduation I’ve ever seen, (thanks rain) yet one with some profound takeaways.

This year’s speaker was Claire Lewis Arnold, the CEO of LeapFrog. The self professed goal of her speech was to impart both the philosophy of TOMs and a broader message about entrepreneurship.

According to Arnold, being an entrepreneur includes solving problems, building teams, collaborative leadership, cataloging change, and caring about society, culture and one’s environment. Entrepreneurs recognize problems, view them as an opportunity and take a personal risk to find a solution. Entrepreneurial spirit drives the growth of mankind- and as it has done in the past, it will continue to do so in the present and the future.

There are lots of kinds of entrepreneurs. Classic ones capitalize on a idea then give back to their community, like Oprah and Bill Gates. Then think of Maria Montessori, the kind of entrepreneur that focuses more on the desire of change than the idea. However, this requires lots of money. The emergence of social entrepreneurs has begun to bridge this money gap. Enterprises with a social mission have become great places for entrepreneurs to work while still turning a profit.

“Change is in our DNA. So don’t stop here”, said Arnold. Embrace this entrepreneurial sprit as a positive agent for further change. Entrepreneurs make visions of the future into reality. Be an agent for change for a better world. Take your education as a foundation and build upon it. Consider how what you learn shapes the rest of your life. Begin by learning who you are and how you learn best. Engage your strengths with your “passions”- Find what excites YOU. Be willing to take a risk and keep your options open. Learning increases exponentially in unfamiliar situations. Keep pushing both sides of your brain and the proverbial envelope. Along the way, you’ll discover paths you never even knew were there. Whether these next four years determine where your destiny lies, you will never lose the ability to affect the world.

Triple bottom line, keep on going. Without pressure, you can’t make a diamond. Congrats, class of 2013.