English Language > Michael Bloomberg's 2016 Commencement Speech - University of Michigan

thank you

presidents little and the Board of Regents and good morning to everyone

I can't hear you good morning

much better it is a great honor to be here on this great campus with so much

history has been made and it really is a thrill to walk in the footsteps of

Gerald Ford james earl jones Lucy Liu and Tom Brady

now i am told that no quarterback has played in more Super Bowls than tom

brady and just in case there are any in New Yorkers here

I would just note that he played against the giants in two of them and in the

interest of being diplomatic to my host I can't remember who won both those

giant games

I am honored to be asked to speak to all the faculty administrators alumni and

most of all for the great class of 2016

now I've not taken my assignment lightly

I really wanted to understand what it felt like to attend the story university

so I did my homework to get ready for today I arrived last night and went

straight to Rick's we're in order to mind bro

from there from there I got a pie and cheesy bread from pizza house and a

sandwich at Zingerman's

even I could barely afford that one

and then I went to the cube and gave it a spin

I painted the rock and it did some yoga in the diag and I got a tattoo of a

Wolverine pain

but not just any wool the rain

my tattoo is a Wolverine eating a Spartan and then I drove back to campus

and look for parking space

what hours and the whole time I thought this is Michigan this morning i woke up

a full of excitement and energy so i walked right over here

but on the way I passed by something we definitely didn't have when I was in

college a minute medical marijuana dispensary

I did not inhale

but somehow I nail file feel like totally mellow dude

and I swear all of this is true so help me har baar

after all that I feel like a true Wolverine and I'm ready to celebrate

with you

you survived so much to get to this moment including the polar vortex you

even some odd hours of waiting in line to get into the maze rage to chill with

that guy in the blue spandex suit so graduates this is a great day

but there is another day group here that also deserves a big round of applause

your parents and families put your hands together for that I see them out there

beaming with pride not even thinking about how much it costs them to get you

to this day or the possibility that you'll soon be moving back into the

basement of course there are many other people who helped you on your journey

so after receiving your diploma and as you make your way in the world

remember that your greatest achievements like today's willow an awful lot to the

people around you if there is a secret to success beyond hard work and good


it's that the more we say we and the less we say I the farther we go

and that's not something just something that coach Robert tells the football


it's something that the most effective leaders in the world understand and take

the hard to remember is almost nothing we do in life that we do alone

in fact the most important knowledge that you will leave here today with like

the importance of teamwork has nothing to do with your major

it is about how to study how to cooperate

I to listen carefully how to think critically and how to resolve conflicts

through reason

in other words it is working with others those are the most important skills in

the working world and it's why colleges have always expose students to

challenging and uncomfortable ideas and the fact that some University boards and

administrations now about to pressure groups and shield students from these

ideas through safe spaces code words and trigger warnings is in my view a

terrible mistake

all purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations not to

run away from them a microaggression is exactly that micro but in a macro sense

one of the most dangerous places on a college campus is the so-called safe

space because it creates a false impression that we can isolate ourselves

from those who hold different views

we can't and we shouldn't try not in politics or in the workplace graduates

in the global economy and in a Democratic Society in an open mind is

the most valuable asset you can possess and today I'd like to talk to you a bit

about why that is true

based on the lessons I've learned over the course of my career

let's start with the global economy and they put in perspective the job market

many of you are entering for the first time in human history

the majority of people in the developed world are being asked to make a living

with their minds

rather than their muscles for 3,000 years

humankind had an economy based on farming till the soil plant the seed to

harvest the crop hard to do but fairly easy to learn

then for 300 years we had an economy based on industry all the parts

turn the crank

assemble the product hard to do but once again fairly easy to learn

now we have an economy based on information choir of knowledge why the

analytics use your creativity hard to do hard to learn and even once you've

mastered it

you'll have to start learning all over again pretty much every day

I want to give us some advice if you have the luxury of more than one job


now or in the future don't pick the one that pays the most

pick the one that teaches you the most and don't worry if the people around you

seemed quicker or smarter

personally I've always tried to surround myself with those that have higher IQs

and are better trained than me

simply how can you compete

you can outwork them no one can work work more than twenty-four seven

so the worst case is your tie in my company

I always give the most complex and important projects to the busiest

employees we have why because they're the hardest working and the most

dedicated they're the first ones into the office and the last ones to leave

they're the ones that take the shortest lunch breaks and the least vacation

it may not sound like much fun but in the end you have to set your priorities

there are no guarantees but the Sigma to success is not rocket science

it just requires true dedication and a willingness to go the extra mile and

some luck but I've noticed repeatedly

the harder you work the luckier you get whatever your field volunteer to take on

some new assignments even if they are outside your comfort zone

take the initiative on your own to learn and develop new skills and to build

context with people who can help you down the road when you would you have

learned enough

let me put it this way i know of no Nobel Prize winner who has stopped


and the inn in the information economy everyone in both white collar and blue

collar jobs will have to keep deepening their knowledge and adapting to

technological change and keeping up with technology may sound simple but when

you're older

your kids will probably think of facebook and instagram the way you today

think of papers and walk man

and for the record yes i am on Instagram it did take me a little while to figure

it out but it took me even longer that convinced my daughters to let me follow


my life is a perfect example of how important it is to keep an open mind

about careers in technology

after college I went to business school in hopes of landing a middle management

job in a factory

I had no idea that factories would soon be closing all across the country and

neither did anyone else

I ended up finding a job at a Wall Street firm

I love the job and soon my interest in managing a plant disappeared after that

I start thought I'd stay at that firm forever and I might have except for one

small thing I got fire when I was 38 you years old it was a bitter pill to

swallow but it was also the best thing that ever happened to my career

it led me starting tech company to computerize real-time financial data

that seems simple now but that was back in nineteen eighty-one the dawn of the

computer age we were trying to invent a computer that no one wanted was

technology that didn't exist

a classic example of innovation everyone said I was crazy and maybe they were

right i had only limited background in computers and I'd never started to run

the company with a lot of help from some very talented and driven people we

succeeded beyond our wildest dreams

so the lesson is whatever you think your dream job today is don't get too

attached to it

chances are if that job exists in 15 years

it will be very different and you may have found other pursuits keeping an

open mind to new ideas will be essential to your professional success and i'll be

just as critical to our collective future is a democratic society and

that's the other lesson I've learned that I'd like to share with you today

during the 12 years i had the honor of serving as mayor of New York City

I witnessed a disturbing chain

thank you I witnessed a disturbing change in the nature of American

politics in the rise of extreme partisanship and intolerance for other

views now I'm a political independent but over the course of my life were

non-ideological practical reasons I've been both a Republican and Democrat so i

can tell you

neither party has a monopoly on good ideas and each demonizes the other

unfairly and dishonestly

this is not a new phenomenon but it has reached a dangerous new level in the

u.s. 1796 George Washington spends much of his farewell address warning

Americans against political parties which he called the worst enemy of

democratic governments

he wrote of the natural tendencies party have to elevate a single leader seeks

power in his words on the ruins of public Liberty today in this political


it's worth remembering what Washington had to say and so allow me to read a

brief passage from his farewell address partisanship Washington wrote quote

serves all ways to distract the public councils and in feeble the public

administration it agitates the community with you founded jealousies and false

alarms Kindles the animosity of one part against another and formats occasionally

riot and insurrection a fire not to be quenched it demands a uniform visions

vigilance to prevent it from bursting into a flame less instead of warming it

should consume

well said George where are you now that we need you we have survived more than

200 years of political parties largely because the founding fathers created

checks and balances to temper the fire

the partition of course back then the founding fathers also excluded most

Americans from the vision of democracy because they feared what democracy might

produce but over the past two centuries to the sacrifices so many civil rights

leaders in soldiers the promise of equal rights has spread across income religion

race gender and sexual orientation

now we still have a long ways to go and it would be a mistake to think that our

progress is irreversible with that Washington's warning is a relic of


neither is true and neither will be democracy and citizenship will always

require constant vigilance against those who fan the flames of partisanship in

ways that consumers and lead to the ruins of public Liberty

we've certainly seen such figures before in both parties in the nineteen thirties

there was the despotic Huey Long in Louisiana and just a few miles up the

road in dearborn father Coughlin blame Jewish conspirators for Americans


then came charles lindbergh in the forties joe mccarthy in the fifties

george wallace in the sixties and pat . Buchanan

more recently every generation has had to confront its known demagogues and

every generation has stood up and kept them away from the white house at least

so far and now it is your turn in


this year's present this year's presidential election

we've seen more denmark demagoguery from both parties that i can remember in my


our country is facing serious and difficult challenges but rather than

offering realistic solutions candidates in both parties are blaming our problems

on easy targets

who breed resentment for Republicans it's Mexicans here illegally and Muslims

and for the Democrats is the wealthy and wall street

the truth is we cannot solve the problems we faced by blaming anyone

we are in this together and we all must be part of the solution

America's power in the world comes from not the walls we build but the doors we

open and it comes from tearing down

and it comes not from tearing down success but building up opportunity now

American citizenship does not require much of us we have no military draft

no mandatory national service no compulsory voting our taxes compared to

Europe are relatively low and yet are voting rates are terrible and they're

especially low among young people and this year you can change them

voting is the only ways to stop demagogues and the best way to stop

Democrats demagogues from rising in the first place


slip and the best place to stop demagogues from rising in the first

place is to elect leaders with the courage to face reality

make tough decisions and lead from the front rather than falling from behind

and that's become harder over time so let me share one last story with you

from my time in City Hall that illustrates why in 2002 we've been

smoking in New York City's bars and restaurants and caused a huge backlash

we got a lot of angry calls and letters and I got a lot of one finger waves when

I walk down the street

but as time went by the band proved to be a huge boon to the bar and restaurant


surprise surprise and smoking rates in our city went down by nearly 30-percent

and help to increase life expectancy of the New Yorkers 22 years above the

national average

in fact i'm glad to say the policy became so popular that cities and states

all over the world competed today

elected officials to decide to support a controversial policy will still get

angry letters phone calls and faxes if they still have fax machines but i'm

sure they'll now get millions of angry tweets and facebook post announcing them

in the harshest possible terms

that's democracy in action but that kind of instant comment condemnation also

make some elected officials afraid to do things that in their heart of hearts

they know right

so democracy in action can actually produce a lot of inaction which we see

every day in Washington DC and other levels of government as well

when governments fail to address the needs of the people

voters in both parties get angry and some politicians exploit that anger by

offering scapegoats instead of solutions we want to stop demagogues you have to

start governing again and that requires us to be more civil to support

politicians who have the courage to take risk and reward those who reach across

the aisle in search of compromise

now I know

doing this won't be easy and that's partly because it's not just social

media that has changed the Civic dialogue the constant bombardment of

news that we see on our phones computers and TVs gives us the impression that we

are acquiring knowledge yet many of the sources backs and interpretations are

either dubious call it my partnership partisanship or outright lies and I say

that as the owner of media company will cease how the marketplace and shifted

today people choose cable TV channels and websites that affirm their own

political views rather than ones that informed and challenge their beliefs as

a result we have grown more politically quested and more intolerant of those who

all different opinions think about this in nineteen sixty only four or five

percent of Democrats and Republicans said that would be upset if a member of

their family married somebody from the opposing party in 2010 the study was

done again roughly forty percent said they would disapprove of southern such a


in other words in nineteen sixty most people would never believe that

inter-party marriage would attract such resistance while interracial marriage in

the same sex marriage would gain such acceptance for all the progress we've

made on cultural tolerance

when it comes to political tolerance we are moving in the wrong direction

we see this trend of political and tolerance across the country at campaign

rallies that turned violent on social media threads that turned vitriolic and

even on college campuses with students and faculty of attempted to censor

political opponents

now I know today one

today's graduates on my mood has faced threats and intimidation because he dad

- right political satire about being left handed in the Michigan daily and he

refused to apologize it

Omar wherever you are out there I'm glad you stood your ground and i'm not saying

that because I also in the left-handed

never be afraid to stand up for what you believe is right no matter how unpopular

it may be or how many people try to shout you down and just as importantly

never hesitate to stand up for the rights of others who expressed their

views and exercise their rights no matter how unpopular that may be the

only ways me to ensure your right to express yourself is to protect others

rights to express themselves back in 2010 i find myself in the middle of a

huge debate over free expression

it was a national uproar over a popular proposal to build a mosque several

blocks from the World Trade Center members of both parties attacked the

plan is an affront to the victims of 911

even the anti-defamation league whose mission is to protect against research

religious discrimination oppose the idea but they had all forgotten the

terrorists didn't just attack buildings they attack our freedom to live and pray

as we choose according to our own beliefs and values equally the torch

that Lady Liberty holds aloft in New York Harbor lights the way for people of

every faith and philosophy and it shines down on every corner of the city and

every community across this land

no religion should ever faced special restrictions on their rights whether it

concerns building a house of worship or getting a visa as durable as the

American system


as durable as the American system of government has been democracy is fragile

and demagogues are always lurking when Ben Franklin was leaving the

Constitution constitutional convention a woman approached him and asked

well doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy and Franklin replied a

republic if you can keep it for graduates

it is now your responsibility to keep it that starts with keeping an open mind

voting and demanding that politicians offer practical solutions not scape

goats or pie-in-the-sky promises back in nineteen twenty eight Republicans

promised a chicken in every pot and a car in every back yard

they won control of Congress and the White House and a year later instead of

a chicken in a car

we got the great depression today when a populist Democratic candidate promises

free college free health care and a pony or another candidate promises to make

other countries pay for our needs

remember those who promised you a free lunch will invariably eat you for



if there was simple solutions to complex problems we wouldn't have had those

problems and I'm optimistic that you graduates will rise to the occasion and

help protect our Republic against the danger of demagogues and the fires of

partisanship that Washington wonders about two hundred and twenty years ago

I believe in you I support you

I will stand with you in this battle to the end of my days so that my children

and grandchildren can be as proud of America's devotion to freedom and

equality as i am now as for the day for you this is a day of celebration so

relish it

enjoy every minute tonight have one last mind probe or two or maybe fish ball at


and when you wake up tomorrow with your whole life ahead of you

just remember no matter what happens no matter what the future holds

you can always take pride in something that you all share that you didn't go to

Michigan State

congratulations and go blue



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