***By some weird fluke, I was nominated to be the graduation speaker for the Brandcenter class of 2017. It was truly an honor to represent my classmates who I admire, respect and envy so much. Here's the speech.***
Faculty, staff, students and other people I don’t recognize. Thank you for giving me one last chance to be evaluated.
I’m not sure why I was chosen to speak today. I’m thinking the criteria for voting was the person with the smallest muscles or the most rapidly receding hairline. Whatever the reason, I’m humbled to represent the class of 2017.
When I first came to the Brandcenter, I was like many of you: a married man in my early 30’s with two young children.
Being a dad at the Brandcenter has given me some unique perspective and experiences (and an ulcer). For example, when my classmates were out partying on the weekends, I was at home, changing diapers, picking up toys and watching movies such as Kung Fu Panda 3. (It’s actually a pretty good show, you should check it out sometime.)
One part of this movie that really stood out to me, was when Po (the panda) is talking to his teacher, the wise Master Shifu, kind of like Fenske, only shorter. Po’s feeling frustrated and like he isn’t measuring up and says, “I’m never going to be like you!” To which Master Shifu shakes his head and smiles and says, “I’m not trying to turn you into me. I’m trying to turn you into you.”
We’ve learned a lot of things at the Brandcenter over the past two years. We’ve learned to become better writers, better strategists, better art directors, better … whatever it is you XD people do. But more than anything else, we’ve learned how to be ourselves. I think it’s interesting that there’s a place at our school called the cocoon because it talks about this transformation we go through. We come in as cute, cuddly caterpillars and leave as bright beautiful, butterflies, ready to take flight. If any you take issue with being called a butterfly, I apologize.
As I was writing this talk and deciding what to say, two words kept coming to mind: oh crap. But two other words also came to mind: thank you.
Thank you first to the unsung heroes of the Brandcenter: the custodians. I can’t imagine the wretched and foul things you find in the building where we spend 24 hours a day.
Thank you to the staff, another group that does not always get the appreciation and attention they deserve. I could always count on a warm smile from Ashley, a friendly wave from Hawley and an indifferent stare from PJ. Especially when I was asking him if I could please just have one of his paper clips.
Thank you to the faculty, without you we would not be the people we are today. We would be much happier people. Michaelangelo said he carved everything away from the marble that wasn’t David. Thank you for carving away everything that wasn’t Jeff or Jansen or Jessie or Josh or Jason or John. We have a lot of J people in our school.
A lot of our teachers don’t need to be here, they’ve had long and successful careers, but they choose to be with us, to share their knowledge and wisdom. Thank you so much for everything.
Last and most importantly, thank you to my fellow students. You’ve also taught me so much. Hard work, perseverance and a variety of modern slang terms. I just want to say, respek, mad shouts and bless up. I mean that sincerely, I really do. When I first got here, I was a little shy, timid and scared to put myself out there. Thank you for being vulnerable and putting yourself out there and helping me to eventually do the same.
It’s almost Dan Wieden time, and I know we’re all excited to hear what he has to say. Thank you so much, Dan, for coming all this way to talk with us. I have some resumes and my mom’s here if you need a reference.
But just to wrap up, I want to say one more time that this school is not about our portfolios. It’s not about who we talked to at recruiter session or who we didn’t talk to. It’s not about the jobs we got, or in my case, still haven’t got. Sorry wife. It’s not about the work we’ve done. It’s about the people we’ve become. Thank you very much.