May 13, 1996
Roberto C. Goizueta
Thank you, Dean Frank.
To the faculty and staff, family and friends assembled here today: Good morning.
And to the Class of 1996: Congratulations to all of you!
I know you have already heard a stirring graduation address this morning from Dr. Johnnetta Cole. So let me reassure you right now: Don’t worry. You’re safe. I am not going to try to top Dr. Cole.
As a matter of fact, I do not even plan to make a graduation speech today.
I am here merely to take care of two matters of unfinished business.
First, you do not have your diplomas yet. And it will be my great pleasure to assist in the presentation of those…in just a moment.
And second, I want to give you the answer to a question I asked you last spring – when I was honored to speak at the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Goizueta Business School’s new building.
At that time, I asked whether the work that would transpire at this school… would help tomorrow’s leaders achieve their ambitions and aspirations.
Standing here today…I believe the answer is “Yes”.
You are tomorrow’s leaders. That statement is a cliché at graduation time, but it is a true statement, nonetheless. And it’s especially true at an outstanding institution like Emory. You are tomorrow’s leaders.
And you are better equipped to achieve your aspirations and ambitions … as a result of your study here … and your effort here … and your hard work here.
You have earned an outstanding business education. You have an understanding of niche marketing … cash flow … and team management … and a hundred other business concepts. That understanding will help you in today’s business world.
But you also should be well on your way to another very important kind of understanding … a true understanding of yourself. And believe it or not, like your other understandings, that also stems, in part, from what you learned in class.
I say that because your understanding of yourself can be expressed in business terms. As business school graduates, you know the role of the consumer and the role of the producer … roles many of you have heard me discuss before.
These roles apply to the nature of your own life:
Taking care of your own personal needs – your needs as life’s consumers, if you will …
And balancing that with the equally important challenge of producing something beneficial for others … leaving something positive in your wake, wherever life takes you.
I believe that each of you can balance those roles, based on the knowledge and the understanding you have gained here at Emory.
You are better prepared to take care of your personal needs … providing for yourself … maybe a family … as you build your career.
And you are better prepared to produce something positive for society.
And when you balance those two … a truly successful life will be yours.
And that is why I say “Yes” – the work that transpires here has helped you – tomorrow’s leaders – achieve your ambitions and aspirations. And it will keep helping you. It will be an important foundation for you … for as long as you live.
I said I wouldn’t make a speech today, and I want to keep my promise. So let me conclude by simply telling you how very proud I am to be with you on this occasion.
I have been blessed in my life, and I have received many honors. But being so closely associated with this great school … ties me to each one of you. And that’s one of the highest honors anyone could ever receive.
Thank you for letting me join you on this special day. Wherever your life takes you, I wish you all the very best … and may all your luck be good luck.