In April a couple of years ago, I was approached by the Principal of a local high school. They were curious about whether or not I would be willing to address their graduating class of seniors — I said yes, and got to work writing a speech.

Upon reading it, the Principal rescinded the offer, and the speech was relegated to somewhere on my hard drive. Until today. Reproduced here for the first time is that graduation speech.



Ladies and gentlemen of the Class of 2017, I am humbled to be addressing you today. I’m not humbled by the auspiciousness of the date. This is, of course, an important day for you, but for the rest of us, this is another three hour long event that we have to sit through in order to get excited for thirty seconds when someone we know has their name announced. No, I’m humbled because truly, I have no idea why I’ve been asked to address you.

It might be as a result of my professional credentials. I work in advertising, and have been relatively successful at what I do. It could be because of my community service and outreach, where some of you may know me from, or my engagement with the city of South Jordan, which even less of you will know me from. But instead, I suspect that I’ve been asked to address you because of my willingness to be frank and candid about life, namely, your life, and what’s coming next.

The world can be, and is, a harsh place. No matter what your path has been to reach graduation, I’m confident that the majority of you are not ready for the challenges of the real world. I don’t mean that in a negative way… instead, I’m speaking from the personal knowledge that myself, and every other adult you’ll ever meet, will tell you. That life is difficult. That there are things you didn’t know you didn’t know, and surprise horrors you’ll find on some random Tuesday that have the potential to radically change your life forever and there’s damn near nothing you can do about it.

I’m not here to give you empty platitudes. That’s what the congratulations cards are for. What I’m here to give you is good, practical, solid advice. You may not agree with all of it, and that’s OK. I don’t expect you to take everything that I say as literal truth, because if you take anything away from this, I want you to remember that nobody has any good answers for any of this stuff. We’re all making it up as we go along, and you will too.

A job or a company isn’t your family

Don’t be afraid to learn