During this month, thousands of students will accomplish an important academic milestone: the college graduation. I recently had the honor of delivering the keynote address to the 2013 graduating class at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Executive MBA program. It was a homecoming for me because 17 years ago I was one of those graduates. In the years since, I’ve learned a few lessons I’d like to share with you as you begin to mold your own life plans.
Change will be the only consistency you encounter:
- Change has always been ubiquitous. The pace of change has hastened, though. It affects almost every country and every marketplace around the world. Your education has prepared you to not only survive these constantly shifting global environments but also thrive in them. As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” Be responsive. Keep learning. Your academic education may be complete, for now, but your life education is just beginning.
Continually innovate your career:
- The word innovation is something you hear all the time today. To me, innovation isn’t just about coming up with the next miracle drug or relevant and different consumer product, it’s about using innovation in everything we do and every relationship we establish. That mindset also applies to your career. Ask yourself, ‘are you changing, are you adapting, are you stretching?’ Take chances. Don’t be afraid to fail; don’t be afraid to fall down. See how quickly you can get yourself back up. Those will be your defining moments.
- Health and wellness are essential components of your career. At Johnson & Johnson, we have four decades of data that show a healthy individual is not just happier, not just more secure, but also more productive. Life will be challenging and exhausting at times. There will be temptations to singularly focus on your career to the detriment of your health and family. Don’t do it. Make time for yourself. Exercise. Take the dog for a walk. Do a yoga class. Balance is an essential part of wellness.
] Alex Gorsky poses with Jon Miller and Megha Reddy, two of the Wharton Executive MBA graduates who are also J&J employees.[/caption] And finally, recognize that you can do well by doing good in the world. Put others first in how you approach work, your personal life and your engagement in the community. After all, we are all in this together. As you begin to create your own footprint in the world, I encourage you to work hard but don’t forget to play too. Life is all about that sweet spot in between the two. On behalf of all us at Johnson & Johnson, I wish you the very best. Congratulations to all this year’s graduates.