Saturday, May 21, 2005

Nooyi vs. Langston - How Commencement Speeches Should Be Done

As noted in the post about Indra Nooyi, I see a lot of commencement speeches. Yesterday I was able to attend the commencement for Southern California College of Optometry. SCCO is a small, high quality, specialized place that trains optometrists. They graduated 91 new doctors of optometry yesterday. Their commencement speaker was the owner of the construction and design firm that has built most of the campus, including most recently an impressive new eye clinic. Bill Langston was the co-founder of the Southern California firm Snider-Langston.

His message was simple and direct. OK, so you've completed an advanced degree in a specialized field but you cannot be successful until you engage yourself outside your profession in civic and community affairs. After establishing his own background a bit (he built a major firm over more than 40 years) he went on to illustrate how involvement in community was important to his career but also fulfilling. Langston is a pilot and has helped to fly doctors to help deliver medical services to remote areas of Mexico. But he has also been involved in projects closer to home.

The best quote in the speech was from Henry Ford - "You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do."