Doctor of Laws
Convocation Address to the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts
June 2, 2014, 6 p.m.
Distinguished Platform Guests,
Members of Faculty and Staff,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am most grateful to Capilano University for honoring me with this honorary degree. Like generations of immigrants before me, I came to this country almost 49 years ago with one
suitcase and a few dollars in my pocket. This country, Canada, has given me the opportunity to learn, grow and build a meaningful life. I must acknowledge the unflinching support and
encouragement of my wife of 43 years, Grace, sitting here in the audience. She is my hero for believing in me when I had so little to offer and when I stumbled. She has given me a family that I am proud to show off at every available opportunity.
Our educational institutions have many programs to teach us how to succeed. Very few offer programs on how to fail successfully. Failing successfully sounds like an oxymoron. Yet knowing how to recognize failure quickly is a cornerstone for breeding success. Throwing good money after bad is a recipe for disaster.
Graduands from the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, you are in the creativity business.
What if you are wrong?
In the science and technology world where I spent most of my career, the valley of death is our constant companion. We are wrong most of the time. Statistics show that only 1 in 250 research ideas would achieve successful commercialization. You can understand that successfully managing to discard the other 249 quickly is the cornerstone for building success.
To recognize the losers early require the recognition of the key characteristics of success. Capilano University has given you the working discipline to succeed, the tools to meet emerging challenges and the basic knowledge to recognize the characteristics of success in your chosen field. Your future is in your hands.
My youngest daughter, Amanda, is a little older than you and is currently in Rwanda in Africa. She believes that she can make a difference in a society trying to rebuild from the horrible genocide 20 years ago. With her consent, I quote her from her blog at www.beyondbeadsandbaskets.com:
“The best advice I ever received came in the form of a question: “Do you feel you re fulfilling your potential?”
The question made me really evaluate whether I had been making the most of my life. At any given time, we each have a unique combination of knowledge, skills, experience, education, resources, network of influence and opportunities, in addition to passions and interests. If we want to help solve the world’s greatest problems or even just make our lives count for something, we have to honestly ask ourselves whether we’re making the most of what we’ve got and, if not, what we can be doing differently. One of the greatest things about potential is that it’s not fixed. Every new day and every new experience stretch us or expose us to something/someone new. You can fulfill your potential one day, but the next day you have a new level of potential to fulfill. The key is choosing to be humble and teachable, denying comfortable ignorance or undue arrogance in favor of the unlimited possibilities that come with learning, growing and collaborating. It’s a daily choice to make our lives count and it requires a daily commitment to fulfill our new potential.”
Graduands, I wish you success in the years to come.
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Capilano University is named after Chief Joe Capilano, an important leader of the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh) Nation of the Coast Salish people. We respectfully acknowledge that our campuses are located on the territories of the Lil’wat, Musqueam, Sechelt (shíshálh), Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.