Archie Black, president and CEO of SPS Commerce, one of the pioneers of cloud computing, addressed the more than 200 students who were hooded in the Graduate Business Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 23. Watch a video of the ceremony.
“Your education will open doors. but more importantly it will help you prepare for the many challenges ahead,” said Black. “Everything you have learned now becomes the foundation for your career and life going forward.”
Black described what he calls the “Mini-Master’s of Life” that can be earned after graduation. “Your education holds limitless value and potential, however it does not guarantee success,” he noted, but living by “four simple truths” will help success come easier:
“Failure is the key to success.” Failure makes business better, said Black. “There is no better way to learn how to do something, than to do it wrong–just don’t make the same mistake twice” and don’t give up, he added. “Persistence is the secret ingredient to achieving success.”
What will I do different next time? What have I learned? Who can help me?
“You can’t do it alone (and why would you want to).” From mentors to supporters, said Black, find people willing “to challenge you and tell you the truth.”
“Seek out people who think differently,” said Black. “You can learn something from each and every person you meet.”
“Collaboration requires trust and a willingness to ask for help.” Success always comes with help – whether it is from family or colleagues, he noted.
Succeeding with others is always more fun than succeeding alone.
“Do what makes you happy.” Most people would think that winning the lottery would make them happy, but, Black said, usually that’s a disaster. He delineated a difference between gratification and happiness, noting “Happiness is enduring and comes from within.”
He encouraged graduates to find their passion: “something you truly love, that ignites your fire, and do it. Every day.”
“Complacency and living by the status quo are the two things that will guarantee misery.”
Happiness and success mean something different for everyone.
“You must always be authentically you.” Each person is more than their job title, said Black, focusing his remarks on living an ethical life. “When you do the right thing, for the right reasons, for some reason you are always rewarded.”
“At the end of the day, if you can’t call your mom and tell her what you did, don’t do it.”
It’s never to early or too late to live your dream.
At the commencement exercise, Black was awarded the Dean’s Medal of Excellence for his work as a pioneer in cloud computing and building a business culture that serves as an incubator for the next generation of technology leaders.