How do you challenge Elon Musk and Steve Jobs for views on Youtube?
I don’t have the answer, but if I get the chance, I’ll ask Jon Fisher, the CEO of CrowdOptic. I was searching for commencement speeches a few days ago, looking for my daily dose of inspiration, when I saw that Fisher’s commencement speech at the University of San Francisco was trending and had actually overtaken one of Elon Musk’s most popular speeches.
So yeah, I gave the speech a listen and could see why people were tuning in. Many commencement speeches are filled with inspirational fluff. They often feel like slideshows of inspirational cat posters. “Pursue your dreams and let them take wing,” “believe in yourself and everything will fall into place.”
Unfortunately, the real world isn’t so kind. One of the first things that struck me about Fisher’s speech is that it wasn’t delusionally upbeat. Hell, there was even a hefty dose of pessimism. Fisher noted that houses in nearby Marin County could soon be underwater due to global warming and rising sea levels, for example. That’s not exactly the most reassuring assessment, but it’s the truth.
Fisher also noted that while we often dream of changing the world, many people were unwilling to make even the smallest sacrifices. How often do people stuck in traffic jams leave their cars idling? As they do, that car is consuming gasoline, spewing out greenhouse gases into the air.
Now, there’s a simple solution to this. Just twist your keys, shut down the engine, and turn your car back on when traffic starts moving. So simple a motion and it’d take less than a second. And yet, most people can’t be bothered.
Now, listening to a speech like this might not sound like a daily dose of inspiration. But for me, it got the wheels turning. Fisher is right, if we want to change the world, we first have to learn how to make the small changes, the small sacrifices. Taking a bike to work, using public transportation, cutting down the number of trips to the grocery store. So many little choices we can make and they’ll make a difference.
Fisher also got me thinking about what the good life is all about. It’s easy to think about fame and fortune. Who doesn’t want money? Who doesn’t want recognition for their hard work? But for Fisher, what’s a bigger motivation is his family and the world he’s going to leave his child.
A quick bit of research tells me that Fisher is a genuine serial entrepreneur. He founded AutoReach, which is now part of AutoNation. Fisher also founded one of the first SaaS platforms, NetClerk, which is now part of Roper Technologies. He founded Bharosa, which is now Oracle’s authentication product. Now he’s shaking up livestreaming and crowd intelligence with CrowdOptic.
Elsewhere, I found a story of Fisher talking about how his first inspiration was a trip on a yacht with a monied Oracle executive. Fisher, a former “surfer bum,” realized he wanted financial freedom, something many of us dream of. So he went out and founded a bunch of companies.
And yet, that’s not what Fisher talks about in his commencement speech. Instead, it’s family, it’s his young daughter and the world she’s going to inherit. And let’s not kid ourselves, the world is changing. Climate change, growing inequality, technological progress, political turmoil, wars, the burgeoning population, loss of biodiversity, the list goes on and on.
Even if you don’t believe that all of the above are serious problems, it’s impossible to deny that we live in a fast changing world. Fisher’s speech got me to thinking about what matters most. The world is changing but we need to ask ourselves if we can change it into something better.
For that to happen, we can’t focus solely on money and professional success. We’re going to have to learn to make sacrifices too and to care about the well-being of future generations.
Check out the video here: