Alexis Listens to Twitter CEO Speak at University of Michigan 2013 Spring Commencement

Hopefully the title of this post hasn’t turned the Ohio State fans away from reading this blog already.

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Three weeks ago, my parents and I headed to Ann Arbor to watch my brother receive his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. Now attending a commencement ceremony for a class with a few thousand students doesn’t seem like the ideal way to spend your afternoon (it took an hour and a half for all the graduates to walk into the Big House and take their seats). But when I heard that Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO, was the guest speaker, my interest quickly sparked. Seeing that I had just given a lecture on Twitter through the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber the week before, as well as being the one logged onto social media the most in the McConnell office, I was really excited to hear what he had to say.

“You know I have to start with by tweeting this, so just give me one second. I’m a professional so this will only take a second.” Costolo, a graduate of UM, pulled out his smartphone, snapped a picture of the graduating class and tweeted it. Naturally, I hopped onto Twitter to see if my section made the photo, and of course, my parents and I just got cut off.

“When I was your age we didn’t have the Internet in our pants,” Costolo joked. “We didn’t even have the Internet not in our pants—that’s how bad it was.”

Not only did his humor grab my attention, Costolo’s speech was also inspiring. After graduating with a Computer Science degree, and with three job offers from technology companies under his belt, he moved to Chicago to pursue his dream of stand-up comedy. As he is now the CEO of Twitter, fame in the comedic world didn’t work out for him like his fellow Second City classmate, Steve Carell. He explained, “You cannot draw that path looking forward. You cannot draw any of your paths looking forward. So you have to figure out what you love to do and what you have conviction about and go do that.”

“There are no expectations. There’s no script. When you’re doing what you love to do, you become resilient because that’s the habit you create for yourself. You create a habit of taking chances on yourself and making bold choices in service to doing what you love. If on the other hand, you do what you think is expected of you or what you are supposed to do, and things go poorly…as surely it will, you will look to external sources for what to do next because that will be the habit you’ve created for yourself.”

There are so many highlights, I would basically be writing the manuscript of his 17-minute speech for you to read. So you should probably just watch it instead.

As I watched and listened with a smile on my face throughout the entire time, Costolo couldn’t have ended his speech more perfectly—“hashtag go blue!”


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