Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Presence.Opportunity.Family - a message to the graduating Class of 2013

On 15th April 2013, I was invited to give the guest speech at a Graduation Ceremony at Sydney's Macquarie University. Here is my speech to the Class of 2013, which included my niece, Antoinette.

Chancellor, distinguished guests, faculty members, staff, graduates and family and friends.

I’d like to thank Macquarie University for inviting me to speak to you here today. I’m not entirely sure that I’m deserving of this honour, but as the SBS marketers say, I'm ONE of “six billion stories” in the world that’s out there to be told. So I’m taking this opportunity to tell you my story in the hope that it will help YOU on your own life and career journey.

In February 1980 with my brother Tony – and like most of you – I enrolled at Macquarie University. My parents had instilled in us an appreciation for tertiary study, as they had with all of my SEVEN brothers and sisters. Tony and I both had an interest in mass communications and seeing as we were only a year or so apart in age, we decided to do the same degree at the same university together. In fact, we were both in this building on that day in February, 33 years ago – the beloved E7B courtyard, navigating the various course options and enrolment processes that would be the beginning of our academic journey.

After graduating, I was fortunate enough to get a start in account administration with IBM Australia, where I progressed through the ranks to carve out a career in executive management that spanned 20 years. I left IBM and joined Telstra for two years and after that,  IT services company UXC Connect for almost three years.

Due to my profound interest in technology and marketing, I also wrote a book on social media called the Connection Generation and have spoken professionally at events like the TEDx Macquarie conference last year.

This fascination with the “why and how” we communicate in our society, especially using today's technologies such as computers, mobile devices, the internet and social media has been of particular interest. My research has led to the conclusion that as social animals, we communicate because we want to connect - connect to each other, in groups and communities, to information, ideas, thoughts, experiences, places, interests and ... even dreams. Today's technology enables us to this more effectively, efficiently and more instantly than in any other era.

So what does this “connectedness” mean for you, who are graduating here today? I’d like to share with you three ways that have worked for me in my life and business experience that you can leverage to take full advantage of living in a “connected generation”.

Let’s start with presence. We all have a physical presence which is obvious and visible. We’re all here today, in front of staff, family and friends being “presented” to the world through this graduation ceremony. There’ll also be a certificate, many photos and celebration events to record and celebrate this momentous occasion.

There’s also our “virtual” presence. This is our presence in the world that may not be in the room physically, but exists in the online or cyber world. For example, how many of you [A SHOW OF HANDS PLEASE] are on Facebook? on Twitter? And on Linkedin?

An online presence presents you with the opportunity to PROFILE YOURSELF to the world. You can choose to use this medium to post, comment, like, poke, share and view information about yourself and other people that will reveal your character and potentially, your reputation in the world. I encourage you to choose to present yourself in social media in the best possible light. Beyond family and friends, there are potential employers, suitors and investors who can view who you are and what you think, when you’re not physically there. You need to ensure that you’re as DRESSED FOR SUCCESS ONLINE, as much as you are in the physical world.

Secondly, YOUR physical and virtual presence also presents you with a unique opportunity. You may not be visible in the physical world due to time and distance factors ... BUT... you could be in the virtual world. The virtual world allows you to plant your presence at any time in many places, with people and in groups and communities through emails, posts and commentary that CONNECTS YOU to areas of interest. I implore you to make your presence felt - voice an opinion about a cause you believe in, start an initiative to better the world and share ideas that could make a difference in someone's life and the community. It’s a unique and fantastic opportunity to help others less fortunate than you and to make a direct contribution to the world.

I’ve spoken about the presence and opportunity that connectedness gives us. There is one more fundamental factor that we should not forget - FAMILY.

My parents reinforced to us the importance of a university education. It has become a legacy of the Pintado family that we have embraced the Macquarie University family. Two of my brothers and one sister; my former wife, Kerry; my two children, Rachel and Andrew; my daughter in law, Jessica, my son-in-law, Sam and no less than three of my nieces – including ANTOINETTE who is graduating at this ceremony today – now have degrees from Macquarie.

We have all established a strong relationship with Macquarie post-graduation, through the Alumni program. As a graduate of the University, we are part of the global alumni community, spanning 140 countries. My strong advice to each of you is that you STAY CONNECTED with your fellow students, staff and other alumni through their formal program and their presences on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin through your Macquarie connection. You are now formally welcomed into the Macquarie family – BOTH physically and virtually!

In conclusion, as a member of the connected generation, you have been granted the gift of enhancing your physical presence by being given the opportunity to establish and activate your virtual presence. You have the capability to actively contribute to society and business globally by being informed, voicing an opinion, starting a movement, making a stand and sharing insights to effect change in the world . The starting point is through the familiar connection point of family, commencing today with your induction into the Macquarie family.

I sincerely thank the university for the honour of addressing you today and I wish each and every one of you the best of success in developing and defining YOUR OWN STORY amongst the six billion that connects us all. Thank you.

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