Friday, May 18, 2012

Fabulous undergradaute runners-up for commencement

Einar Barr spoke beautifully on Saturday at Kogod's commencement. She touched on "personal journeys"--an apt metaphor whether one came from the mid-Atlantic or, in her case, from Israel. As befits a business school speaker, she played on multiple meanings of the words "investment," "assets" and "debt"--as in "debts of gratitude."

Looking back we know that the judges gnashed their teeth plenty while making their selection among the other finalists, Dylan Vogt, Jessica Noonan and Samantha (Sam) Dina.

Dylan Vogt’s thoughtful proposed speech used the metaphor of coffee to explore his time at Kogod. And this coffee is no Starbucks Caramel Macchiato with two pumps of artificial vanilla and whipped cream topping but an honest, pure and utterly delicious cup of java that he tasted while in Guatemala. 

The barista was in fact the coffee farmer himself who said,

"While other coffee growers grow just coffee, I grow coffee, oranges, mangos, bananas, and vanilla, [with the]magnificent flavor resulting from the diversity of my fields.”

A similar diversity is what makes Kogod so successful, Dylan said, concluding,

"I look forward to seeing the success that awaits all of you, the positive influence that you will pass to those around you, and, similar to Fernando’s coffee, the magnificent flavor that you will bring to the future of business."

 *   *

Jess Noonan’s
 proposed charming speech reassured any nervous new grads that what’s coming next is in fact familiar. For example, the lessons of “being nice” from grade school have become “play to each other’s strengths” when working in a team: 

“In my first finance class I was intimidated and amazed when the finance majors of my group were able to crunch numbers at lightning speed, but I was able to pull my weight by amazing them with a beautiful presentation."
She also praised the well-roundedness of the Kogod degree: 

“Kogod finance majors can market to their clients and Kogod Marketing majors understand Excel. These skills will drive our competitive edge and set us apart from other recent graduates.”

*  *

The theme of Samantha Dina’s speech was that you can imagine yourself into the future. It all started when she and her fellow graduates were prospective students: 

“You may have imagined yourself as the fraternity president playing football on the quad with his fellow brothers, the super-stylish barista at the Dav who was best friends with all of her coworkers, or the kid in the suit with briefcase in hand, talking on his Blackberry in a tone that made you think he singlehandedly was running the New York Stock Exchange. "
With that vision in hand, Sam says, “…you [took] any necessary steps to make that vision become a reality....

“So you joined a club, you got an amazing internship, you rushed a fraternity …or in true American University style, you did all the above. You started forming relationships …These people became your family and were just as dedicated to your dream as you were..
* *

As Kogod's speech coach, it was a pleasure and privilege for me to work with all of these talented finalists. Best of luck to each of you in your future lives as business communicators!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Runners-Up for Kogod Commencement Impress Judges

As many of you already know, Julie Jones addressed the graduate students and Einar Barr the undergrads this past Saturday, May 12, at Kogod's commencement. Their thoughtful and heart-felt addresses in Bender moved the audience of parents, friends, deans, faculty, staff, and fellow graduates.

The runners-up were also wonderful, however, so much so that the
 committee--composed of Kogod staff and faculty--struggled to choose among the impressive contenders. (What a great problem to have!)

This is because each runner-up produced a well-crafted speech with a moving and original theme. Many had funny lines and references to their time at Kogod that would have resonated with all the students.

Since BetterBizComm is always on the look-out for great examples of communications, we wanted to spread the joy and share these speeches here.

First up: the graduate runner-ups, Amanda Cardinale and Ari Goldmann.

Amanda Cardinale notes of her fellow graduates, 

"We’ve learned how to say things like ZOPA, MAPE, LIFO, FIFO, and WACC. We know not only what these mean or how to apply them; we can even say them while keeping a straight face."
Charm aside, Amanda's speech tackles a big theme: that of being ready to ride the currents of the job market, and indeed of life, wherever they might take you. She says,

"We can’t spend our lives working toward one job title, or planning for success in one industry. And why is that? Well, remember when scoring a job at Bear Sterns was a big deal? Or when the best career for a foodie was at Gourmet magazine? Or when you actually went into a Blockbuster to rent a video?
"Shifts in the economy might change our priorities. Changes in business models might make our dream jobs disappear. Innovations in technology could dramatically alter our status quo.


Ari Goldmann's speech (link takes you to the video) also takes on an important theme, of the necessity of keeping the triple bottom line--"a strategic business concern for people, planet, and profit"--in the forefront of one's mind.

He writes,

"This affects all of you, whether you’re a financier, a consultant, or a project manager...When you leave here today, consider how we, emissaries of a new breed of MBA, embody this triple bottom line. We must evaluate people, planet, and profit in everything we do...."
"The Kogod community has empowered us, and I urge you not to take that for granted. We have been empowered to make a better life for ourselves, our families, our communities, our workplaces, and the world around." 


Check back soon for the fabulous undergraduates!