“Don’t just love your work. Love the outcomes of your work. As you leave today and celebrate tomorrow, I urge you to be gluttonous about your passion to do good. Take more than one helping of opportunity to lead our nation through your service to others. Go back for seconds when the chance to change lives is served to you.”
Words from Goodwill of Orange County’s President and CEO Frank Talarico, Jr.’s commencement address at Saddleback College last month. He gives a moving speech to the graduating class of 2016, encouraging them to dig deep and find a career path that serves others — something everyone at Goodwill of Orange County is passionate and sure about.
Watch the full video and read his full speech below.
“President Burnett, esteemed Trustees, parents, distinguished guests, and graduates; it is my privilege to be your commencement speaker today. It is truly my honor to stand here and see the faces of our future. Congratulations on your achievements, thus far. Congratulations in anticipation of what is to come for each and every one of you.
In light of the honor you have so generously bestowed on me, I feel it only appropriate for me to be “real” with each of you today. It is my obligation to be honest with you. I have a confession to make: I am jealous of each one of you. Not because you’re a fraction of my age, nor need a fraction of the sleep I need, or even that you can drink and eat a multiple of what I can without gaining an ounce. It is because for the first time, perhaps, in the history of our great nation this graduating class has a choice that my peers and those graduates that came before me never had. For the first time in the history of our great nation, it is “ok” maybe even smarter to do well by doing good.
At graduations just like this one all over the world, older guys like me are telling graduates like you what you ought to do. I won’t tell you what to do. I won’t even tell you what not to do. Making mistakes is half the fun.
I will tell you what I hope you already know but I am sure haven’t yet fully processed: You are graduating at a critical time. In our nation. In our world. Let’s again be honest. No matter your political persuasion we must all admit that our nation is not just at an ideological crossroads. In some regards we are at an ideological dead-end. The way of viewing the world, and working in this world, and even living in this world has run its course. There is no more road before us. Philosophically, this country is ready for a long-overdue U-turn. And we must take the wheel—no longer can we be a passenger in this journey. It used to be that prior generations could be chauffeured through their dependence on outside support like the government. Even if the capacity still existed, Gallup tells us that only 19% of us even trust the government. Gallup also tells us that 71% of you, of millennials, are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Get behind the wheel. Put your foot on the pedal. Hell, gun it! And together let’s make that U-Turn.
Sure, you must still find something you are passionate about. You must love your work.
But look a little deeper. Where do your passions and the betterment of the world intersect? That is a question your generation will answer. And that is why I am jealous.
You can shape the future. In fact, you MUST reshape the complexion of this place we all live in. The possibilities are limitless.
But don’t just love your work. Love the outcomes of your work. That’s why I chose to be the CEO of Goodwill. It’s a challenging, complicated, big business with thousands of employees, 22 retail stores, a board of directors and all kinds of complex problems that I’m passionate about solving. Worldwide we are $6B strong. Locally we are $140 M and growing. We use words like innovation, and enterprise, and entrepreneurship. We are a big business. And at Goodwill business goes deeper. Our mission is what I am passionate about — putting people facing barriers, such as disabilities or substance abuse, or prison time. Or even military veterans transitioning back to civilian life, to work. My outcomes are changed lives. My outcomes are about making dreams come true. Like making the dreams of an autistic child come true so that they can attend “regular” classes in any school. Like making the dreams of a quadriplegic come true so that he can complete a masters degree in art. Like making the dreams come true for a paraplegic college student, so that she can walk across a stage, just like this one, and receive her well-earned diploma. These are real examples. These are real lives.
As you leave today and celebrate, tomorrow I urge you to be gluttonous about your passion to do good. Take more than one helping of opportunity to lead our nation through your service to others. Go back for seconds when the chance to change lives is served to you. Here’s the secret of this new world of work: You no longer have to choose between doing well and doing good. Giving back is good business.
I assure each and every one of you this: that the final measure of your greatness will be the depth of your goodness. I challenge each and every one of you, “go and be great.”
Thank you, and again, congratulations Class of 2016.”