Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz, addressed departing Gettysburg College seniors, and gave them four bits of advice:
1. Focus on being interested, not on being interesting. Don’t fall for status. Instead, seek opportunities that help you grow.
“Focus more on listening and learning – the rest will come.”
2. Don’t worry about what other people think of you.
“Take risks. Ask the ‘dumb’ questions. Fail if you have to, and then get up and do it again.”
3. Avoid cynicism. Pessimists can tell you what’s wrong with the world, but it’s the optimists who set out to change it.
“Inspiring hope in a cynical world might be the most radical thing you can possibly do. Hope may not feed us, but it is hope that sustains us.”
4. Build on what came before. (Because we know creativity is combinatorial, everything is a remix, and giving credit matters.)
“Before you finished getting out of bed, brushing your teeth with clean tap water, putting on clothes, making breakfast, turning off the light, walking out the door, you are benefiting from the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals from all around the world. They all deserve your spirit of generosity. So walk with humility and reverence for the human endeavor, and know it’s your job to help take that endeavor forward.”