5 Graduation Speeches to Inspire Your Marketing

5 Graduation Speeches to Inspire Your Marketing

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As hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world prepare to celebrate one the most pivotal days of their lives and prepare to embark on a new uncharted journey aka graduation, the majority of us marketers are probably sitting around stressing over things like trying to drive event registration or figuring out what “lead intelligence” means. While graduation might feel like a fleeting memory of the past for most of us now, I personally love graduation season because it inevitably pushes me to be a little introspective, instilling me with a rediscovered excitement for where I came from, where I am currently, and where I am going. I’ve pulled together some of my favorite quotes from graduation speeches to re-instill you with a little creative energy to not only fuel, but humanize your next marketing campaign. 


“Not taking failures personally allows us to recover—and even to thrive.”

Sheryl Sandberg, UC Berkeley General Commencement, 2016

Facebook COO and women’s activist, Sheryl Sandberg, delivered a moving speech to UC Berkeley’s graduating class on the lessons she learned in death, rather than of life. As a marketer, or really as a human in general, you are bound to fail. Perhaps your last event didn’t go as planned or your scheduled email was sent to the wrong people at the wrong time. Whatever your failure was, know that it’s okay and remain resilient. Focus on steps to remediate, recover, and thrive.


“When you’re on deck, standing your watch, you stay vigilant.”

Barack Obama, United States Coast Guard Academy, 2015

It’s an inarguable truth that marketers are constantly trying to stay afloat with the latest trends. In this renowned commencement speech, US President Barack Obama reminds graduating cadets that the only thing constant in life is change itself. As a marketer, it is your job to not only stay on top of emerging trends, but try to predict them. At the end of every day, I encourage you to take a moment and ask yourself, “What did I learn today?” and even more curiously, “What will I learn tomorrow?” By remaining cognizant of the transient nature of marketing trends, you’re guaranteed to take your marketing to the next level. Ahoy, marketers!


“You take words and you turn them into the infrastructure that keeps our world stable.”

Mindy Kaling, Harvard Law Commencement, 2014

I might be biased, but I think that the heart of every successful company is a solid, creative marketing team. The marketing team determines how the company is positioned, how new products are introduced to the world, and so much more. In Mindy Kaling’s comedic, yet powerful commencement speech to newly minted Harvard Law graduates, she harps on the powerful nature of words. As a marketer, you create the brand foundation that your company’s presence is built upon. Don’t forget that!


“Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.”

Shonda Rhimes, Dartmouth College Commencement, 2014

In a world where we have access to information literally at the touch of a fingertip (thanks, Twitter moments!), there is no excuse to stay stagnant. In fact, the Web has been growing 10-fold each year, and will continue to do so. Determine your marketing goals and the different strategies to get there. Once this is done, jump into action — A/B test a marketing email campaign, try posting with a new hashtag to gain a larger social presence, start creative writing on your corporate blog, etc. Golden Globe award winner Shonda Rhimes reminds us to just do something. I assure you that you will learn things about your marketing that you did not know before.


“And the only way to do great work is to love what you do,”

Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement, 2005

And finally marketers, I will leave you with this quote from Apple founder and CEO, Steve Jobs. In 2005, he urged Stanford graduates to go out and do what they love, saying that life is too short to settle on something you don’t truly enjoy. This line of thought continues to reign true 11 years later. Channel your inner passions into your work. Add a human element to your creative campaigns. This is how you build connections and trust with other humans and come off as a more relevant brand that people want to engage with and buy from. You won’t regret it.


So marketers, I challenge you to stay vigilantly creative, channel your inner child, harness the power of your marketing campaign dreams, and then jump into action — not only during graduation session, but all year long. Congratulations, marketing grad, you’re more relevant than ever before!