Many students in the class of 2020 were deprived of a commencement ceremony. Whether you’re graduating from high school, trade school, college or even boot camp, you deserve to hear some words of inspiration. So the leaders of Inseego have put together this gift for you. Enjoy!

To the class of 2020,

I want to offer my very best wishes to all new grads. 2020 will challenge you, but also open many new opportunities.

You’re entering the next chapter of your lives under circumstances unprecedented in recent history. No doubt many of you had specific plans that have suddenly taken a turn. I’d like to offer a few words of advice that have helped me in business and my personal life.

In the book “The Obstacle is the Way” the subtitle says it all: “The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph.” The book is full of stories that bring this theme to life, demonstrating how hard times and difficult circumstances are your opportunity to shine, personally and professionally. Some amazing companies were started during periods of severe economic crisis. The words of world leaders such as Winston Churchill, who persevered and prevailed when all others had given up, is a case in point: “… Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing great or small …”

You cannot control world events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, or the economy, or world wars. But  what is fully within your control? Your emotions, judgement, creativity, attitude, perspective, desires, decisions and above all else, your determination. I have learned over my career the power of the determination. It’s what gives you the inner strength and clear mind to keep moving forward, make clear decisions, and stay focused on your goals. I call this my “North Star.”

In times like these, people are dazed, confused and perhaps panicking. Ultimately, many will simply give up. Life is not without struggle, but what sets leaders apart is the power of perseverance.

Take some time to read about the personal tragedies and career setbacks in Abraham Lincoln’s early life on his journey to become our president — and one of the greatest (if not the greatest) world leader in history. His remarkable achievements to fight injustice and oppression during his presidency are especially relevant today.

Life has a way of throwing us into situations that test us and assess us. Leaders who do not waiver in times of struggle are the ones who are truly exceptional. So when you’re facing difficult circumstances I want you to look up to the night sky and find your North Star. It will always be there to help you stay the course and keep moving forward.

Go get ‘em grads! The sky’s the limit.

Dan Mondor
Chairman and CEO
University of Manitoba, University of Ottawa, Cornell University, Duke University

To the class of 2020,

I wish the best for the class of 2020. We are all facing unprecedented times. You’ll be walking your own path and learning from your own mistakes, just as we all have from our own.

The future is an open book. Step back and look at your parents’ lifetimes and the changes they’ve seen, the changes they’ve influenced, the different world they were born into than the one you live in today, and consider how it will be when you look back at your own lives 20 or 30 years from now.

Your parents could only give you a few things to take into the rest of your life. They gave you good manners (hopefully), good teeth, and a good education. The rest is completely on you. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Be a lifetime learner and a teacher, always study, always grasp for new concepts, always inspire those younger or older than you to follow a lifelong love of learning and education.

Martin Luther King delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech to a crowd of 250,000 people in 1963 during the March on Washington. This remains one of the most famous and compelling speeches in the history of the civil rights movement. Disappointingly, we as Americans have yet to truly come to grips with that dream. We’ve come a long way yet still have a long way to go. I look to each of the graduates of 2020, and recommend that each of you read that speech, commit it to memory, and act on it.

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” Robin Williams, the genie in the lamp, said that. Like MLK he had a dream — a dream to make the world a better, if not funnier, place. The real point of his message, and one I want to impart to you in closing is this: What you say matters. What you say can change the world.

You are the next generation of leaders. From this class we’ll see presidents of companies and countries, we’ll see new technologies and new products developed, all aimed at making life simpler and better. My deepest hope is that you’ll also bring forth the new level of empathy, humanity and humility that this world so desperately needs.

You own the future.

You will make history.

You will change the world.

Steve Smith
Arizona State University

To the class of 2020,

As you graduate and pursue your next endeavors, whether academic or non-academic, you are walking into a world that has been greatly impacted by recent events – including the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the COVID 19 pandemic. These events have taught us that it will take collective efforts by the entire human race to make this world a better place to live in for generations to come.

I encourage you to learn from history as you embark on this new phase of your life, and continue to challenge everyone around you to make things better.

Ashish Sharma
President of IoT & Mobile Solutions
University of District of Columbia, George Mason University, UCLA

To the class of 2020,

You are entering the real world under challenging circumstances to be sure, and while your journey may initially be more difficult than graduates before you, keep in mind these hopeful thoughts:

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph”

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”

Doug Kahn
Executive VP Operations and Customer Success
UC Berkeley, University of Chicago

To the class of 2020,

It goes without saying that this has been an extremely unusual year that required you to forgo all the normal senior year events like spring sports, prom, parties, and graduation.  I know it was a time when you were looking forward to enjoying your friends and graduating with the usual excitement.  I commend you for your patience in handling all these cancelled events with style and grace.

Here are some reflections to consider as you go forward into the world:

  • Don’t be afraid set high goals, try, and fail. It usually is through our failures that we learn the most.  The key is to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them.
  • Enthusiasm counts a great deal. Managers remember people who bring their passion to the job.  It will be the tie-breaker in most situations.
  • Continue to learn. Nobody can take away your education, both formal and life experience. So continue to find ways to learn and adapt.
  • Maintain a work-life balance. You will see that there are times when the job comes first. However, that is not all the time. There are times when your family must come first. Make sure you remember that and take time for yourself and your family when it should be the priority.
  • Remember to have fun! Life is a journey. Enjoy it with family and friends. Try not to let the stress of everyday events wear you down.

Good luck!

Mark Frisch
Executive VP America Sales
Class of 1982
Quaker Valley  H.S.
Leetsdale, PA
Lehigh University, Duke University

To the class of 2020,

First and foremost, congratulations. To say, “I’m a 2020 college graduate” will always have a special meaning in this world.

A bit of advice I wish I had been given early in my career:

  1. Find a company and a team that aligns with your core values. Life is short. Work with people who lift you up and inspire you to be better every single day. If they don’t, then find another team.
  2. Speak up. Offer your ideas and solutions even when you are not 100 percent confident in your voice. Practice if you need to. You deserve to be heard.
  3. Lastly, and perhaps my favorite passed on by a wise mentor:  Strive not to make your presence known, but rather your absence felt. Maya Angelou said it this way: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” This one might just make or break your career.

Onwards and upwards, class of 2020. Go make it happen!

Wendy Caceres
Chief Marketing Officer
University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas

To the class of 2020,

Make a strong effort to get past the fear of taking on something new and the fear of failure. You will then discover the amazing things life has reserved for you!

Natacha Pavan
Chief Human Resources Officer
UC San Diego, Pontificia Universidade Catolica (Brazil)

To the class of 2020,

I think one of the most powerful things I’ve read lately is how to get through tough times by adding the words “for now” to the end of each sentence when describing unfavorable conditions. The market is slow “for now.” It’s tough to reach customers “for now.” It takes longer to close deals “for now.”

This gets everyone in the mindset that things will change for the better and we should focus on how we prepare for when things do change. The earlier you learn to deal with adversity by focusing on prioritizing initiatives, executing a good plan now rather than a perfect plan later, and understanding that things will change for the better, the more effective you will be as an employee and a leader.

Embrace the tough times, as they allow those with a bias for action, a sense of urgency, and a great attitude to shine.

Let this be your moment to shine.
John Weldon
SVP Ctrack
University of Southern California, Pepperdine University

To the class of 2020,

Here are some tidbits I’ve tried to live by, and they’ve served me well:

  • Pursue a career that excites you, one that you look forward to jumping back into each day. The day you stop feeling this way is the day you should shift course, in school or in your career. It’s never too late.
  • Always have an opinion. Most roles I have received throughout my career are the result of consistently expressing strong opinions. Eventually I am asked to “walk the talk.”
  • Care about people and build trust. The word “subordinate” is distasteful to me. I view everyone as a colleague. Then moving “up” or “down” becomes less important than moving in the right direction. And people trust you.
  • Break the rules. Take chances. Make decisions, but be willing to change them when necessary. Be open and honest about mistakes. This builds trust.
  • Network! This will help you in school and in any role you have, and will significantly expand your opportunities. The more fun and interpersonal your networking is, the more effective it tends to be.
  • Be a “can-do” person. I value this above all else when hiring. Everything else can be taught. Attitude is a way of life and gets baked in.

Dan Picker
SVP and Chief Technology Officer
UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego

To the class of 2020,

Remember that changes aren’t permanent, but Change is. Learn to embrace Change, because it will be with you forever.

Adam Gould
SVP Product Management
MIT, Drexel University

To the class of 2020,

Congratulations!  Take time to celebrate this great accomplishment. Never lose faith in your ability to make your dreams come true, no matter what challenges you face. Enjoy the journey!

Rick Carpenter
SVP of Engineering
University of Texas

To the class of 2020,

Congratulations, Class of 2020! All of your hard work has paid off!

While I am sure the circumstances surrounding your graduation are not what you envisioned, you should be proud of your achievements!

Although we are all going through some challenging times right now, every challenge is also an opportunity. Just hang in there and persevere. If you and your fellow members of the Class of 2020 apply your collective talents, passion, skills and knowledge, there’s no problem that cannot be solved.

Best of luck!

Kurt Scheuerman
SVP & General Counsel
UC Berkeley, University of Oregon

To the class of 2020,

My mantra throughout my career has always been this, both for myself and for the people I lead: “Do the right thing.” Regardless of revenue, business circumstance, etc., “do the right thing.” It’s simple, memorable and has helped me through some real situations – especially in telecoms.

It comes from a Mark Twain quote: “It’s never wrong to do the right thing”.

Simon Rayne
SVP and Managing Director, UK, EMEA and APAC
Lancaster University, University of Middlesex

To the class of 2020,

Graduation is such a special time in your life. Your journey is beginning.

Growing up, my parents and grandparents set a great example for me and I would like to share it with you. They instilled in me that everything you do in life starts with belief, whether that belief is in a goal, in a relationship, a friendship or a career aspiration. Your belief will fuel your passion, your passion will fuel your effort, and your effort will drive results.

I wish you all the very best as you embark on your journey. Never stop dreaming, never stop learning, never stop challenging yourself and most of all, enjoy it!

Steve Brown
SVP IoT Enterprise Sales
U.S. Army, Airborne Division