Graduation is an amazing time of year when years of hard work are finally realized and that long-awaited diploma is finally received. It’s a time of joy, relief, excitement, and accomplishment. It’s also a time of great wisdom. While graduates have heads full of knowledge, wisdom is something harder to accumulate.
In today’s article, we have interviewed our Founder and CEO Angela Pan to find out what commencement speeches from successful people have inspired her and how she’s related them to her own life. Ashley Chloe’s company culture has been fully influenced by her spirit. This is one of the key reasons that Ashley Chloe has been able to achieve the success that it has thus far.
Angela Pan has shared, “I told myself, on my graduation day 10 years ago, that I might not be one of the smartest people out there, but I work extra hard and am extra diligent in order to achieve my goal. Many times, you will be bombarded with tons of advices throughout your college life from people here and there, but you are the only person who know who and what kind of person you want to become. Media is overflowing with fancy success stories, but the fact is you don’t really get to know the behind-the-scene struggle and hard-work these incredibly successful people have gone through!”
Entrepreneurship is a State of Mind - Tory Burch
The success of Designer and Founder Tory Burch has inspired Angela. Burch’s speech on entrepreneurship for Babson College particularly inspired our driven Founder. Burch said, “Being an entrepreneur isn’t just a job title, and it isn’t just about starting a company. It’s a state of mind. It’s about seeing connections others can’t, seizing opportunities others won’t, and forging new directions that others haven’t.”
Angela knows from experience that entrepreneurship means going all in, but that doesn’t mean that entrepreneurship is exclusive. Burch eloquently explained, “Even if you’re not yet an entrepreneur, you can be entrepreneurial in everything you do. If you view each stop as an opportunity to learn something, there is always something you will take away from that experience.”
“Remember: if the most unique ideas were obvious to everyone, there wouldn’t be entrepreneurs. The one thing that every entrepreneurial journey has in common is that there are many, many steps on the road to success.” Angela admires how Tory Burch speaks true to the realities of being an entrepreneur and reminds us that obstacles are a part of the journey. Our Founder has encountered many roadblocks along the way to creating Ashley Chloe and sites determination and optimism as the things that kept her going.
Hard Days Determine Who You Are - Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg’s powerful commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley was not her first, but it might have been her most inspiring one. The Facebook COO was very personal in her speech announcing that she wouldn’t be speaking about life, but of death and the passing of her husband.
“Dave’s death changed me in profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void - or in the face of any challenge - you can choose joy and meaning.” Sandberg shared. It’s rare to see someone in such a high leadership position sharing something intensely emotional with millions, but Sandberg did and in such a way that gives hope and confidence.
Sandberg’s commencement speech can be summarized in one quote. “It is the hard days - the times that challenge you to your very core — that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”
You Can’t Do it Alone - Amy Poehler
If you love watching Amy Poehler on the silver screen, you may also be thrilled to hear her commencement speech. Amy Poehler’s commencement speech for Harvard University was both hilarious and smart. Her speech began with loads of jokes that had to have been appreciated by graduates sitting through the typically long ceremony.
“So I tried to write today's speech the way I wrote everything in college, ” Poehler said. “Stayed up all night, typing on a Canon word processor while listening to Sir Mix-a-lot. To be fair, first I took a nap, I ate a large pretzel, I cried a little bit and then I went to see that movie, Fast Five.”
Poehler’s speech wasn’t just rolling on the floor funny. The famed comedian had great advice for graduates of all majors. Poehler’s main point was that you can’t do it alone. You must be open to collaboration. She tells graduates to find a group of people that inspire them and spend a lot of time with them.
Angela strongly believes that team-based thinking helped her grow Ashley Chloe as quickly and soundly as she’s been able to. She explained, “The success of a company is not only about the product, but it’s also about the people.” The Helix Cuff is Ashley Chloe’s first flagship product and was designed through a collaboration of the company’s hard-working team.
After concluding by quoting Outcast’s “Heyah” Poehler gave this final statement: “When you feel scared, hold someone's hand and look into their eyes. And when you feel brave, do the same thing. You are all here because you are smart. And you are brave. And if you add kindness and the ability to change a tire, you almost make up the perfect person.”
Live Before You Die - Steve Jobs
As a pioneer of innovation, Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University was a must-see. We all know Jobs is a great speaker from his presentations at Apple, but his commencement speech was completely different. He shared wisdom like, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” and “I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.”
The theme of Jobs’ inspirational speech was being intentional with your life. He exclaimed, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other's’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
In Jobs’ biography, Becoming Steve Jobs, his wife Laurene said she’d never seen him more nervous than he had been before giving his commencement speech. The speech was important to Jobs and soon after it came to be important to the more than 22 million people who later watched it on Youtube. With the wisdom that he’s shared, it’s said that Jobs inspired a generation of entrepreneurs and that’s even true for the founders of Ashley Chloe. Job’s passion to improve the lives of people everywhere with a completely innovative product is shared by Angela Pan and the entire Ashley Chloe team.
Keep Your Point of View - Oprah Winfrey
For many of us, Oprah is a constant source of inspiration, so you may find it interesting to hear what she had to say at her Harvard University commencement speech after she received her honorary degree.
Oprah was beautifully humble in her speech, acknowledging how she had failed in her life and how she bounced back from this embarrassing public failure. “It doesn’t matter how far you might rise. At some point, you are bound to stumble.” Oprah spoke. “And when you do I want you to know this, remember this: there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”
Angela has said “Being an entrepreneur, you have to always be an optimist. Entrepreneurship is extremely tough. You have put your life into it. You almost work 18 hours every day. You will face lots of ups and downs. You will hear thousands of people say you can’t. But you must know that entrepreneurship is all about making impossible things possible. You are doing great things building a tool and product with only a few people in a small team, and when on the same level it may require hundreds of people from a big corporation to do it. You are all exceptional people among the others.”
Being in the spotlight has not been easy for Oprah. At any time, people are pushing here in a million different directions. In her conclusion, she shares, “If you’re willing to listen to, be guided by, that still small voice that is the G.P.S. within yourself, to find out what makes you come alive, you will be more than okay. You will be happy, you will be successful, and you will make a difference in the world.”
Angela understands how impossible it can seem to reach the success level of those in the media and explained her point of view, “There is no overnight success. Behind every successful entrepreneur and business, there are many years of hard work, building relationships, connecting the dots, and learning many difficult lessons along the way.” She has found inspiration and wisdom from the success of others and applied that and a lot of hard work to begin realizing her dreams.
What graduation advice most inspires you? Let us know in the comments below.
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