The Future is much Brighter than you Think: A Message to Today's Graduates
Congratulations to every student for your hard work and your success. Commencements are special in that they mark the end of one journey and the beginning of the next. To all of the caregivers, I congratulate you, too. I know the amount of pride you feel in this moment. I encourage you to believe in the dreams of these young graduates. Their dreams will change the world. My message to today's graduates is there is opportunity everywhere we look, even in spite of the negativity we might see related to COVID and the state of our world today. The example we have been able to create with the company I founded, Rubicon, should give you encouragement. We literally transformed an industry with an idea: to end waste, in all of its forms. In the process, we built a multi-billion dollar company.
As we always say at Rubicon, there's nothing more American than making money with garbage. That is what I have done. What will you do? How will you make your mark on the world?
Many of you may feel you face uncertain job prospects in the midst of a global pandemic that is wreaking havoc on our economy. Some of you may be wondering what kind of possibilities can exist in this uncertain landscape to make change, or to make good on the promise of your education.
I am not here to spread doom and gloom — quite the contrary. My message is one of hope and aspiration, and encouragement to believe in the fact the American Dream is alive and burns bright for you going forward. Times such as these are when the most opportunities exist, not the fewest. I believe you can reframe a challenging time, and turn it into an opportunity. I believe you can work through the difficulty. I believe that times like now are when you will find your opportunity.
How can I say that today? Because I am living proof that futures can be forged in tough times. I started Rubicon in the midst of the economic collapse of 2008, the Great Recession. We faced hard times. We sometimes struggled to make payroll. Success was not immediate.
Dwayne Johnson — The Rock — says "Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come."
Success is every day having consistently good days over and over again and being successful, consistently, regardless of what's happening around you. We went into an industry and a business at a time when people were running for the hills — and that is when the greatest circumstances arise to make change. That is when your imagination and your creativity come into play to allow you to see your fortune where everyone else sees challenge.
People may tell you that you have very little to offer because of your inexperience, but your inexperience is your greatest asset. Because you are not plagued by the bad habits that have conditioned the industry to always do things “the way it was done before.” That is your greatest advantage when you are applying for a job, when you are creating a company or non profit, and when you are carving out your path forward.
I am here to tell you now is the greatest time in the history of the world to be an entrepreneur, to chase a big idea, to dream a big dream. Technology has made it faster, cheaper, and easier than ever to follow your dreams, and to create jobs.
I am here to tell you the circumstances in which you find yourselves right now do not have to define your career, or your experience coming out of college. What you are being dealt does not look like an opportunity, but it is. It is, I promise you.
Now is a time that is ripe for change, and it is compelling. Now is a time when it is appropriate to start something new. Now is a time when your idea can change the world.
I challenge you to look around and find your opportunity. Find your own Rubicon, and cross it. Find your silver lining that is not immediately apparent to you or your family or friends. I challenge you, through your own creativity or imagination, to reframe what could or should be because of your unique gifts and who and what you are.
The market wants to hear from you. Your own young, new ideas will change the world. Whether you are an entrepreneur, starting your own world-changing company, or entering the job market working to rebuild an industry from the inside, the market wants you, the next generation and your ideas and dreams. Big ideas are everywhere. Big, industry-changing innovations WILL still be realized.
Now is the time. Now is your time to think big, and dream big, and take big risks to realize your vision for a better world. Business can be one of the greatest sources for good in the world and the greatest source of social change to make the world a better place. Do not be afraid to be considered a Capitalist because Capitalists are going to save the world through the jobs we create, the healthcare we provide, the tax revenue we create to build roads, and the infrastructure for our towns and cities that allow us to protect our country.
You must remember — and I hope that you will take this lesson with you — now is the greatest time to think bold, to think big and to use the education that you have been given to be better than ever, to be more than you ever thought you could be.
Congratulations, Class of 2020. Go forward with vision and vigor