On Saturday December 10, 2022 I got to give the Commencement speech at Montana Tech. I put a lot of love and effort into speaking and this one meant a lot in many ways. I framed the talk around one of my favorite quotes, by Gary Snyder, “Find your place on the planet, dig in and take responsibility from there.” In many ways I’ve built my life—and we’ve built our business—around this quote.
For me, public speaking is always an opportunity to dig in and practice one of my core values: Courage. Not just to talk about what it means to be courageous, but to practice it, real time. And not just practice it by simply reciting words in front of a group, but by using a talk to be vulnerable. To be honest.
I grew up thinking that badass, amazing people must have been born that way—that they were lucky. I’ve learned instead that badasses are made by our actions and our words. It’s a choice and it takes effort to live our values. I want to always model courage which I think is one of the most badass skills we can bring to the world.
I also love to share the things I don’t think we hear enough of in our lives: that success means being more like ourselves, not more like everyone else. That money isn’t Purpose and that a life full of Purpose will be a life well lived. That we’re capable of more than we could possibly imagine in this moment. I meant these things as I shared them with the students and I mean them for you, right now, in this moment, too.
I’ve made mistakes, I’ve failed at things. That isn’t what defines me. My Values and my sense of Purpose are what defines me. The way I use those things to dig in, to take responsibility, to take action, that’s what defines me. That’s true for each of us, I believe.
I’m honored that Butte, America is my place. That Montana is my place.
I’m also honored that a kid who didn’t graduate high school got to be the Montana Tech commencement speaker. No joke, that was the first time in my life I ever put on a cap and gown.
I wish each of us a clear sense of purpose and the knowledge that we have the power to dig in and take responsibility, whatever that means to us.
To our Grads and to the rest of us, let’s all go forth and be our rad-ass best.