I am truly honored to be with you at your commencement. A day you will always remember. Standing here today takes me back to an inspiring encounter in 1971 when I was around your age; when the world is at your feet with so many opportunities ahead. I was only 23 and had just arrived in Tokyo where I was to meet the chairman of a large Japanese watch company to discuss a potential joint-venture. When I told him of my dream that brought me to Japan he did not let me finish, bursting out: Jordi San, you must have a big dream! I expected to discuss 5 or 10-year plans, instead he spoke of the 21st century.
Yes, already back in the 70s, he saw that far ahead. He expanded my vision and ignited the spark in me to think BIG. That lesson has stayed with me ever since. It is my hope, that you will walk away with the same inspiration today.
Let me now share with you the three guiding principles that have impacted my life:
VISION, FAITH & PASSION
In my career I have created 5 companies and launched a number of innovative products. Looking back, I realize that all of my ventures started with a vision. Some were quite clear
from the start while others took time to evolve. When I took up sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, I had a great instructor, challenging me daily with the same pertinent question: Michel, WHERE ARE WE GOING? Plot your track on the map, what is the weather forecast, what are the obstacles along the way? It struck me how important it was to plan ahead and to have a clear vision of where I was going. It reminded me a lot of business and life itself. How are we to reach anything if we don’t know where we are going?
Principle Nr. 2 is FAITH and trusting your gut.
Now once I set the vision it took several leaps of faith to implement it. One such occasion was the launch of LE CLIP, a watch in the shape of a cloth-pin. I wanted to position the product at 50 Swiss Francs. This, despite a market research by Mc Kinsey which labelled the product a useless gimmick worth CHF 9.95. I chose to ignore this study and to everyone’s surprise the gamble paid off. We sold 1 million watches worth 23 million Swiss Francs in the first year!
“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation.”
A quote from Jonathan Livingston the Seagull.
FAITH and trusting my gut have always been my guiding forces.
However, growth was too fast. I ran out of cash and needed to take in an investor. Unfortunately, our visions differed rapidly and I was fired from my own company for which I had given my blood, sweat and tears. It was a total shock. I was devastated and lost my ground.
But giving is no option. I had my family to feed and my pride to preserve. Instead of going into depression I established a “not-to-do list”, which included: no drugs and no excessive alcohol. I fixed myself immediate new goals. Sports and positive thinking became my new daily routine to keep my sanity and faith. Life will sometimes come hard at you but it is how you respond to it that matters.
Confucius said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
Last but not least is PASSION
Today is a BIG day for all of you. Congratulations. You have reached a milestone. Allow me to share this last story. A few years ago, I travelled to Bhutan with friends. On this trip we had the privilege of attending an inspirational session with a reputable Monk. My friend asked him this intriguing question: “What is the purpose of life?” the monk paused…, scratched his
head and said with a clear determined voice “To be happy!” before bursting into loud laughter. Everybody sat in silence, reflecting on those 3 simple words, TO BE HAPPY!
Yes, the purpose of life is to be happy and to live your passion.
What are YOU passionate about?
Whatever it is; don’t lose sight of it.
Remember you only have one life, so do what you love.
Despite my ups and downs, I enjoyed the journey. Here I am today, still standing, with renewed energy and motivation hoping to ignite the spark in you to realize your dreams as you are starting out on your own journey. You are the leaders to shape the future.
Dream BIG and live your PASSION!
Bon voyage !