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Final Commencement Speech

14 June
2021

Adelson School of Entrepreneurship

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Hello everyone! For those who don’t already know me, my name is Shimmy. It’s so great to see everyone here tonight!

 

First and foremost, on behalf of the class I’d like to thank everyone who has made this degree excellent. From all of our teachers who somehow figured out how to give us the best education experience through the combination of zoom and frontal classes despite the worldwide pandemic going on. To the faculty and administration who upkeep this immaculate campus and that have spent countless hours of their time planning and smoothing out our curriculum in real-time while juggling their personal lives, clearly having put much thought as to what the most relevant and applicable courses for us to be exposed to should be. To you all, we say thank you! (Clap).

 

So, I got an email the other week from our Dean, Gali Einav (point to Gali) asking me to speak on behalf of our class. My First reaction was amazing, this is a great opportunity!

But shortly after I realized I had no idea what to speak about, there are so many topics to cover in the arena of entrepreneurship. So I gave Gali a call and she cleared everything up for me. She told me that in short this speech is our class’s farewell to IDC, as well as an opportunity to talk about the new beginnings of the journey each and every one of us are about to embark on. So tonight I’m going to speak a little bit about our journey here in IDC as well as attempt to bring perspective to what we’ve gained and hopefully use those lessons for the journey to come.

 

Now, If for one moment every single student from the class can just go into their minds and think back to when they decided to start this degree, Let me ask you all, What was your initial motivation? What did you expect to get out of it? Why didn’t you pick a more established degree like Business Administration or Business Economics? Reflecting now, did you gain everything you wanted to gain? Most importantly, what were we all thinking starting a program in it’s first graduating year and that wasn’t an accredited degree yet? It’s a bit risky at the least. (chuckle)

 

Well, Now that I’ve put you all into a more introspective place, I’m going to give a short lesson on the word Entrepreneur. First, out of curiosity, after going through 3 years of this degree, who here can spell the word entrepreneurship correctly? You don’t have to answer that (chuckle). Etymologically the word Entrepreneur is an amalgamation of two words, the first from old French, and forgive me if I pronounce this wrong “Entreprendre” Which means “to undertake” the second word is more familiar to us all, “enterprise”. I looked up the word Entrepreneur on the internet and I found a very apt description from dictionary.com “An Entrepreneur is a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk”. Bearing in mind this intimate understanding of the w ord “entrepreneur” it got me thinking, what’s the “spirit” of an entrepreneur. I believe a successful entrepreneur is a person who is willing to take risks, a person who when put in a situation of fear, doubt, and the unknown, somehow manages to turn that situation into an opportunity. A person who embraces the grind because he or she knows that this is the right course of action. Mahatmas Gandhi once said “adversity is the mother of progress”. Trying to unpack this simple yet powerful quote, I would venture to say that without fear, without doubt, without struggle, and without being put into situations where the unknown is staring us in the face, can we truly grow?

 

Currently during our final Semester our class is taking a course titled “Dealing and Coping with Failure” given by Dr. Lisa Law. In essence the course teaches us different strategies on how to cope in the face of failure, which in the world of entrepreneurship isn’t just probable, it’s inevitable. In the course we delve into different understandings and models as to what is happening and ways to cope emotionally and psychologically when we “fail” as well as go through hardship. During the course we learned Dr. Carol Dweck’s approach on a “growth mindset” emphasizing the brain's neuroplasticity and the prospect for one to Develop their abilities given the right mindset, dedication and hard work. This approach also accentuates the importance for the love of lifetime learning and the necessary resilience needed for great accomplishment. Not only has this message been constantly reinforced throughout this degree, however we actually learnt it in the academic setting. In addition though I think this is something we can see and learn from in nature as well.

 

I don’t know if you are all familiar, but the late Rabbi Doctor Twerski, had a very great insight on the concept of growth seen in nature. He mentions a story where he learnt about the growth cycle of a lobster. Now I don’t know about any of you but I’ve never put much thought into the growth cycle of lobsters, but nonetheless please bear with me for a moment. Dr. Twerski recounted “A lobster is a soft Mushy animal that lives inside of a rigid shell, that rigid shell does not expand, so the question comes obviously, how can the lobster grow in such an environment? Well. As the lobster grows it’s shell becomes extremely confining, and the lobster feels itself under pressure and uncomfortable, so it goes under a rock formation to protect itself from predatory fish, casts off the shell and produces a new one and this process repeats itself many many times throughout its lifetime. The stimulus for the lobster to grow is that it feels uncomfortable. What we can realize from this short anecdote found within nature is that times of stress are also times that are signals for growth and if we use adversity properly we can grow through that adversity.”

 

Now for all of you that I’ve lost after this little lobster story, if I can return you all to memory lane, when we first started the degree. All of us were so excited to begin our journey as new university students, but more so as budding entrepreneurs. In our first year we learnt all the basics, from MVP to B2B to UVP we got all the terms down. Looking back, that was our first exposure to this new exciting world of entrepreneurship. Concluding that year we went right into the most intensive semester of the degree, I bet all of you remember that clearly as we saw each other on campus every day of the week (wince). But you know what guys, we got through it! And then, this little thing happened called COVID. Now I don’t know about all of you but for me COVID was tough! Months on end filled with lockdowns, students getting stuck in their home countries. People who personally got sick or loved ones who got sick. It was time filled with uncertainty, doubt and lots of fear. Ya I also stocked up on toilet paper, I bet everyone here did too (wince). But even through all of that we still got through to the other end, and at least in Israel thank god, it’s almost over!

 

Through the thick and thin somehow, everyone sitting here tonight, despite all the challenges thrown in our way, got through this degree. I think this says something profound about the characters of each and every one of us. Regardless of every excuse we could have made to not complete the degree, we pushed forward!

 

We’re all here tonight celebrating the completion of our bachelor's degree and I don’t know about you all but I think that’s a huuuge accomplishment! I think this deserves a round of applause! (clap).

 

Coming to the end of the degree I’m sure you’ve all been asked the heavy question from someone, “So, what are you going to do after graduation?” And i believe the truth is, you don’t know have to know, guys we’re still so young we still have so much opportunity ahead of us and its exciting!

 

But i know it’s scary ending something and having the feeling of not knowing. So with this last thought i’ll end my speech and we can go onto the Prizes and find out who won the pitch night!

 

Guys i beseech all of you, don’t let the fear of the unknown future dictate the decisions of the now, don’t let doubt drive your decisions. Remember, without this fear, without this doubt, without all of the adversity thrown in our way, how do we become better versions of ourselves? Life is so short, and really we only live once, why not live it to the most beautiful and fulfilling version of it that we can possibly create for ourselves.

 

I want to finish with a quote from Steve Jobb’s because, this is an entrepreneurship degree and well… it is Steve Jobb’s. “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Choose to be one of the crazy ones, Guys let’s go change the world!

 

Thank you!