A Commencement Speech (2017)












By: David Bradford

Dear Graduate –

This is my message to all of you 18 year olds graduating from high school this month or you 22 year olds that are matriculating from college. First- big congratulations. You have achieved a wonderful milestone. BUT NOW WHAT?

WELL, let me share with you a secret that I wish I had known upon my graduation 40 years ago this month.


In other words, find your passion in life and pursue it. The Universe will conspire to help you make a living from it and the result for you will be a Happy Life.

A great man once said that “Happiness is the object and design of our existence.” Joseph Smith

My friends – finding your passion and making a living from it is going to make you happy in the long run. My advice on this Commencement Day 2017, is to get on with finding that passion.

The great Co-Founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, once said:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Recently, I had the occasion to see one of my law school classmates from over 40 years ago. It was fun catching up with him. We talked about our careers, our families, our Church callings, and then he looked me squarely in the eye and said:

“David – I wish I could have done what you did. You obviously love what you do.”

I could tell he was dismayed by the career path life had taken him down. And yet from an outside perspective he was a well-respected member of the legal community and a partner in his law firm. And yet his work life made him unhappy.

Now to be sure, this guy is smarter than I am and vastly more skilled in the law, and one talented guy. But the truth is . . .he was unhappy because he had never pursued his true passion.

So choose today to live life on your own terms. Don’t let the mores of society dictate what you love. You know it yourself deep-down.

So do what excites you.

Let’s be clear . . it won’t be easy. You will feel fear and resistance. You will, at times, feel overwhelmed. Pursue your passion anyway.

Going after something that has true meaning takes courage. There will be fear that goes with it. But don’t let that hold you back. It’s OK to me both excited and scared.

Recently, I received an email from a young lady in California. She was searching for answers. She is pregnant with her first child. She has a dead-end job in a jewelry store. Her husband works in a Mobile phone store in sales. Neither of them like what they are doing. They feel stuck.

My advice to you . . .Don’t let this become You.

And further, if you have, don’t let your current situation dictate your long-term happiness. You can find it out there.

And let me tell you – You are an advantaged generation. You have access to essentially everything you need. It’s all online. You are the Net Generation. Now take advantage of it

In the end, one of the top qualities you can develop, is really loving what you do. And the formula is easy. If you love what are you doing, you will be very, very good at it.

I was one of the fortunate few. In 1980, I found the computer industry . . .not because I loved tech or had an engineering background but because I wanted to get out of my then current position. Oh my gosh, how that small job offer CHANGED MY LIFE. When I look back on what has happened to me and my family since getting introduced to the computer industry, I am forever grateful because it was there that I found my passion: INNOVATION.

My love is to be around people that innovate, and the computer industry is full of them. I love to hear of Big Ideas that can help change and better our world. I love finding ways to collaborate with innovators. Big thinkers. But big thinkers also need people that can help them execute on their vision. I suppose that is where my skill-set lies. But it’s a love of people and their big ideas that excites and motivates me.

Young Men and Young Women – listen to this advice:

“The time has now come to turn about and face the future. This is a season of a thousand opportunities. It is ours to grasp and move forward.” Gordon Hinckley

I would say that maybe 10% of those that read this will follow this advice. Be part of that 10%. Surround yourself with positive people. Surround yourself with those that will HELP YOU LIVE OUT YOUR PASSION.

Be sure to dream Big Dreams but you also must do something about those dreams.

Let me summarize my Commencement 2017 Blog by sharing with you a quote from an Eastern Yoga who lived a couple of thousand years ago. His name was PATANJALI.

Nobody actual knows a lot about this individual but his advice from Millennia ago is just as applicable today as it was then:

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

Posted in Posted in Lessons Learned  |  14 Comments

14 thoughts on “A Commencement Speech (2017)”

  1. The privilege to work is a gift
    The power to work is a blessing
    The LOVE of work is success

    My motto for 50 years of delivering babies!

  2. Great advice, David. Hopefully many 18- and 22-year-olds will follow it. I would add a saying from Confucius: Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

  3. Pursuing your passion can only take you so far and then you have to pay bills and put food on the table. A lot of it is both the courage to pursue your passion and then just dumb luck.

  4. I will be retiring in a few months, but in looking back at my career now that it is about over, one thing stands out. Over 44 years ago when I graduated from college, I thought I had my career all planned out. It went as planned for about 10 years and then things changed. It took a couple of years with jobs that weren’t long term before I found one that really fit. I worked hard and at times long hours, but I was able to have control over my life and to be a part of a company that grew from a very small business to one that was a leader in their field. It gave me a great sense of pride to have played a major part in that growth. After 25 years the company was sold and I moved to another small company where I have also played a significant roll in its success. Looking back, my career has been much better than I thought it would be. I probably could have earned more money working somewhere else, but I enjoyed what I did and I have worked with some wonderful people. In addition to that, we were able to live close to family and I was able to be involved with the lives of our children as they grew up.

  5. Thanks David!
    Your words about networking is exactly so. When I lecture on the topic..I say:
    “Network is a dead animal, but NETWORKING -which is doing favors without hoping/asking for returns WHY? because they come – is living .. and it works.”

  6. David, your advice to graduates is spot on. I couldn’t agree more. Passion makes all the difference. Judy Young

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