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A Bold Moves Graduation Speech: What We Wish We Knew About Being Bold Earlier On

You might think that my memory of my graduation would be fuzzy. It was a while ago after all. Some parts of it are, but other parts… those are still crystal clear. 


Like the genuine accomplishment I felt that day standing next to my classmates while the dean called us up one by one to receive our degrees, and the curiosity and wonder I felt when I heard the graduation speech. 


Pure excitement overcame me as I turned the tassel on my cap to acknowledge the grandest achievement of my life to that point. Caps, in semi-slow motion, flew in the air when the dean said, “Congratulations to the graduating class of 2005!”

students on graduation day tossing their caps in the air

I felt an overwhelming amount of joy celebrating with my friends and family after the ceremony.


“I did it,” I thought. “I made it.” 


It was one of the best days of my life. It still is, all these years later.


Maybe that’s why I like to tune into at least one graduation speech each year. They’re inspiring and motivating because they shine a light on our potential. For graduates, these speeches are like a spiritual sendoff, setting them off into the world with optimism, hope, and encouragement in their back pockets. 


When I set out to create a podcast to inspire and empower others to boldly pursue their careers and lives, I dreamt of listeners feeling the intangible sensation that I get from graduation speeches – the belief that you can do anything you put your mind to. 


Now, 28 entrepreneurs, founders, executive leaders, and creatives who are dedicated to writing their own stories have answered my final podcast interview question, “What do you know about being bold today that you wish you would have known earlier on?” 


Through this question, we have co-created our very own graduation speech. Out from the other side of some of our in-the-trenches stories, our hardest moments, and transformation journeys, we have tried-and-true advice we wish we could have given to our younger selves. 


Collectively, they’re words of wisdom from one generation to another about what it means to be bold and write a career and life story you’re proud of. Three core themes rose to the top: 


Be you

Interviewees noted how easy it can be to fulfill external expectations, but they advised that defining your own path means you have to tune into your authentic self to discover who you are and what you want to do:


“Find your truth.”


“Be your authentic self.”


“Turn up the volume on who you are.”


“Listen to your inner voice.”


“Discover yourself.”


Take action

My guests noted that you can’t be bold unless you start:


“Let go of perfectionism and take messy action.”


“Practice makes perfect.” 


“It’s ok to begin when you have no idea how it’s going to end.” 


“You don’t need to be fully baked.”


“Just get started because you learn along the way and you'll get better.”


Don't shy away from risks

Though often scary to do, interviewees say It pays to take risks:


“Go with your gut. It’ll lead you to take chances.”


“There's something terrifying, but also very empowering about taking big risks and taking them early.”


“Play to win, not to lose.”


“Failure is part of it.”


“Courage comes after confronting what you’re afraid of.”


Relationships are golden

Relationships are the way my guests have unlocked new opportunities faster than going at it alone:


“Listen to other people and really, really, really listen. You don't have to take all the advice. You don't have to follow their direction, but listen.”


“Find people who are bold and tap into them.”


“People are there to help you more than you realize, and you shouldn't be so hesitant to reach out and ask for help.”


“I'm committed to putting the ladder down and helping everybody up with me.”


In the Bold Moves: How Did You Know episode, titled “A Bold Moves Graduation Speech: What We Wish We Knew About Being Bold Earlier On,” these themes – and more – provide graduates with a compilation of stories and advice based on lived experiences of people who have made bold moves to achieve a life and career they’re proud of.


While their paths are different, their advice is similar: Being bold pays off.


It’s a mindset graduates can embrace as they embark on their new journeys to define their lives and careers after graduation.

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