You are here

WGU Commencement Address from Simon T. Bailey

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
WGU Commencement Address from Simon T. Bailey
Western Governors University
<p>Simon T. Bailey, one of America's top 10 most popular corporate and association speakers on change, leadership, and customer experience delivered the WGU Commencement Address at WGU's 70th Commencement. This is a recording from the WGU Bachelor's Commencement Ceremony.</p> <p>Transcript of the video:</p> <p>Scott Pulsipher: I'm pleased to present to you Simon T. Bailey, our commencement speaker. Simon is one of America's top ten most popular corporate and association speakers on change, leadership, and customer experience. He has worked with more than 1,500 organizations in 45 different countries. As an innovator, educator, executive advisor, and author, he shapes the lives of men and women around the world. </p> <p>Prior to founding his company, Simon held the role of Sales Director for the world renowned Disney Institute and worked in hospitality and tourism for 20 years. </p> <p>When Simon is not working, he spends quality time with his two active teenagers and roots for the Buffalo Bills to whom we say, "I'm sorry." [Chuckles] He is an avid movie goer, and he believes his most important role is to be a great dad and to volunteer in serving the least, the last, and the lost in society. Please join me in welcoming Simon T. Bailey. [Applause] </p> <p>Simon T. Bailey: Good afternoon, and congratulations to the graduates. Do we have any night owls here? Any night owls? [Cheers] </p> <p>You know, it's so amazing, as I began to observe you walking in, I couldn't help but think about a number of years ago, my mom and dad loaded the family station wagon and drove me and my brother from Buffalo, New York down to Atlanta, Georgia where they dropped me off at Morehouse College. And at the end of my freshman year at Morehouse they called and said, "We don't have the money to send you back to Morehouse, nor do we have money to bring you back home to Buffalo, but we do love you." [Laughter] And how many realized the brother didn't quite feel the love. </p> <p>So I dropped out of Morehouse, moved into a drug infested community in the southwest part of Atlanta, Georgia. Only had a mattress on the floor, bright green beanbag from the '70s, a couple of milk crates turned over with a black and white TV on top of it with a hanger hanging out of the back of the TV with a piece of aluminum foil wrapped around the hanger. How many have the visual so far? [Laughter] Excuse me to all the English professors in the room, I wasn't "poor," I was "po'." That's two levels below. [Laughter] I was so broke, I walked past the bank and tripped the alarm. I mean it was just... [laughs]... it was a sad situation. I know some of ya'll saying, "Bless his heart." [Chuckles] </p> <p>I eventually did go back to school. It took me ten years to get my degree. And my parents said, "It took you ten years to finish your degree." I said, "Because you didn't pay. But I love you." [Chuckles] And I remember so vividly, when I was going back to school, trying to finish my degree, I was making maybe a whopping $30,000 a year. And I would quit and start, and quit and start. And one day I realized that quitters never win, and winners never quit. And as I began to look at that, I really realized that the best hand that will feed you in any economy is the one at the end of your wrist. So I recognized I had to get up off my blessed assurance and make something happen. And though it took me ten years, that I was on public transportation, we got it done. </p> <p>And so as I look at you today, I know all about being a night owl. How many of ya'll feel me? [Cheers] See, here is what I've discovered: Success is inconvenient. Because if it was easy, everybody would be doing it. And I believe the level that you're willing to be inconvenienced is at the level you're ready to experience success. </p> <p>A number of years ago, when I was working here at the Mouse House, they sent me to Disneyland Paris to design a leadership program for a thousand leaders out of Barclays Bank out of London. And while I was there in Paris, Lion King had just come out. And if you remember the movie Lion King, there's a scene where Simba has lost his way, and his father, King Mufasa, appeared to him in a vision. And he says, [in deep voice] "Simba, remember who you are." I know some of ya'll just had a flashback right there. [Chuckles] I'm working on my next side hustle. </p> <p>So I was there in Paris, and some people came up to me, and they're like, "Oh, my God, we enjoyed what you had to say." And I went back to my hotel room that night in Paris. And I asked myself three questions. And these three questions have really shaped the foundation of all of the work that I've done around the world, and the ten books that I've written. And question number one: What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail? Question number two: What would I do if no one paid me to do it? And question number three: What makes me come alive? I believe when you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. Yes? And let me tell you why this is important. </p> <p>I've spent some time talking with the faculty and certainly the president of WGU, and this degree that you are achieving today has prepared you with the mindset, the skillset, and the will set to be relevant in this economy. Other colleges and universities, they want broadband results but they're using dial up methods. And what's interesting about WGU is you have faculty mentors that when you wanted to quit, came along side ya. How many are tracking with me? [Applause] And said, "Whatever it took you to get into WGU, we're gonna keep you in WGU. Do you need a lifeline?" </p> <p>And I think why that's so important in this economy is because WGU is not just in the business of education, but they're in the business of transformation. And transformation is all about sustainability. How do we ensure that we have men and women who not only go in the workforce and become all that they possibly can be? But let me say this to the female graduates today. All of the research says that businesses that have females in leadership roles in the organization have a net-net positive impact to the bottom line. [Cheers and applause] So ladies, you are equipped now to lead more than ever before because of how you have matriculated through this university. </p> <p>And men, I have not forgotten about you. But I want you to also recognize what's so powerful about WGU. It doesn't matter where you come from. It doesn't matter of your ethnicity, it doesn't matter of your background. WGU looks at the brilliance that is in you, and comes alongside you to say, "How can we help you be all that and a bag of chips?" </p> <p>So, when I think about today, you are sitting in the middle of a man's imagination. What is so powerful about Walt Disney World Resort is that 60 years ago Walt was in what they call in the country, a crop duster airplane, that flew over the 47 square miles of this property. And he, along with his associates, began to acquire the land to create Walt Disney World. They acquired it through a series of dummy companies. </p> <p>Walt passed away December 15th, 1966. And when Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, opened October 1st 1971, there was a gentleman on the stage with Walt's brother, Roy who turned to Roy and said, "It would've been great for Walt to see Walt Disney World." And Roy turned back to him and said, "He did see it." </p> <p>All of you today, you saw this day coming. And I submit to you that the imagination is the most powerful movie screen in the world because the future is created in the present. So you saw this day. And as you get ready to shift from this day what does SHIFT stand for? See How I Fit Tomorrow. When you shift from this day, you will take WGU with you in your heart because you are absolutely positively brilliant. Why? Because Simon says so. [Cheers and applause] </p> <p>Scott Pulsipher: Let's hear it one more time for Simon. Thank you so much. [Cheers]</p>
Western Governors University
© 2019 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)