UW–Madison 2012 Spring Commencement: Carol Bartz Address


>>[Inaudible] to introduce you to Carol Bartz,
who will deliver the charge to the graduates. Carol has extensive experience leading complex
global technology companies while CEO of Yahoo, the world’s premier digital media company.
Carol modernized technology platforms, acquired companies for expansion, divested businesses
for focus, ignited partnerships, cut costs, expanded margins, and grew consumer audience
to 800 million people. Not a small task. Prior to Yahoo, she was promoted after 12 years
of successfully leading AutoDesk as CEO to the executive chairman until February 2009,
when she agreed to lead Yahoo. Earlier in her career, Carol held several business leadership
positions at Sun Microsystems, including vice president of the worldwide field operations
and served as executive officer of the company. Carol is currently the lead director on the
board of Cisco Systems, the worldwide leader in networking. She also serves as the director
of the National Medals of Science and Technology Foundation and as trustee of the Paley Center
for Media. She has also served on other public company boards including Intel and Net App.
Carol is known for her strong leadership style, is frequently as a prominent business leader
in the industry, and is regularly listed as one of Fortune’s most powerful women. Carol
supports key causes important to her including the American Breast Cancer Foundation and
the American Heart Association. We are deeply honored and gratified that Carol is with us
today. Please join me in welcoming Carol Bartz. ^M00:01:38
[ Applause ] ^M00:01:49>>Carol Bartz: Thank you, encore chancellor.
Welcome, grads. Are you awake, [laughter] or is this the cemetery? It’s not Friday morning,
it’s Saturday, and welcome especially to the moms and mom figures that you have who worried
every single day that you were here. Every single day. [applause] So a special thanks
to moms. Because guess what? You don’t answer e-mail, you certainly don’t answer phone calls,
and you make fun of our texts. [laughter] My daughter always said to me, “Mom, why do
you sign it mom? I know it’s you.” [laughter] And I’m in technology. [laughter] So I can
only imagine what happens to all of us here. So I’m so honored to be here. I did leave
here in 1971. I never had the chance then to go to my graduation because I was already
going to start work. So I feel super excited that I’m here, and I really am proud for all
of you. I’m proud for this great university, and I never fault to tell people where I graduated.
Because I’m really, really proud, and they understand how great Wisconsin is. So, but
I do tell you that I think my remarks today should come with a warning label, and the
warning label goes like this. Attention, attention. The advice you’re about to receive comes from
a 63 year old, unemployed, former CEO whose language is frequently described as salty.
[laughter] Now what a stupid term that is, but anyway. So you’re warned, but also consider
yourself fortunate not because I’m here, but because you’re graduating, classes are over,
exams are over, and you’re just entering another wonderful phase of your life. You’re actually
fortunate that you’re entering a world more exciting and challenging and eye opening than
any other previous generation. I think we all thought that. I just am so excited for
you. You know, you’ve read the headlines. Jobs are tough. I talked to some of you yesterday
on campus. You said you didn’t have a job yet and so forth. Economy’s uncertain we know.
Some of you are going to have to face the reality of moving back in with your parents.
Now that might be good. That might be bad. I will not make a judgment. My daughter has
already boomeranged back, and she thinks she gets to pick the TV shows. [laughter] No.
You’ve been gone five years, sweetie. No. So that’s just a word to the parents. They
don’t get to pick anymore. They’re not, you know, they’re not the apple of your eye. They’re
the apple of your heart, but you get to move on. [laughter] So I graduated in 1971, and
I will tell you I do have one bad note for you. The rest of your life, Thursday nights
will never be as good. [laughter] Never. [applause] Never, never. ^M00:04:55
[ Applause ] ^M00:04:59>>Carol Bartz: Never. You know, yesterday,
obstensively, I was out trying to find some t-shirts and so forth for my family, and instead
I was actually looking for my old hangouts. Sad to say, they are all gone. The pub. The
KK. Schmitty’s. The Townie Bar. I don’t remember what it was called because we were so snobby,
which was stupid, but anyway. The good news is I found all kinds of replacements. So I’m
sure on Thursday nights, you guys had a ball, and just cherish all that. Cherish those friends.
Cherish those Thursday nights. But anyway, back to 1971. A little bit of a treatise on
what was going on then. It was hardly a high water mark for American optimism. Inflation
was rampant. Unemployment was about to reach a 20-year high. The war in Southeast Asia
was expanding. Yes, I was here during all of that. I have many stories, most of which
would get me in jail. Back then, economists wrote that it was the end of an era. The global
dominance of the U.S. economy had come to an end. Seriously, 20 years ago, 40 years
ago. [laughter] Geez. Oh, please 20. Had come to an end. OK. And Japan and the entire European
community were the rising stars. That’s what the predictions were. So it was very hard
to see past those headlines when I graduated, and the future really didn’t look bright.
I had a UW degree in a new field called computer science. Jobs in that field were scarce, especially
for women. Now, that’s no surprise. That hasn’t changed. Maybe you can help change that. But
it was a special year in the United States. So I want to actually tell you a few things
that were happening. In 1971, the NASDAQ began trading for the first time. A new airline
called Southwest started. In California, a company called Intel invented the microprocessor.
In Florida, a new theme park opened called Disney World. The U.S. lifted its trade embargo
against China, and in 1971, a new telephone business called MCI offered cheap rates on
long distance except you don’t even know what long distance is. [laughter] Needless to say,
we didn’t see a lot of this coming, but what I want you to do is draw some hope from this
history. Look past the headlines, and actually don’t believe that the events of today are
the ones that are going to shape your future. Because your work life is very, very long.
You’re the first generation that is preparing for a 50-year work life, and you know why.
You have to support all of us. ^M00:07:57
[ Laughter ] [ Applause ] ^M00:08:08>>Carol Bartz: You know, that probably sounds
like an eternity now, and you’re probably saying let me first get a job and then I’ll
worry about working 50 years, but truly, for all kinds of reasons, health reasons, economic
reasons, most of you will be working into your 70’s and 80’s, which actually isn’t all
that bad. Retirement now at 62 and 65 as we think of it will be a thing of the past. You
know, think of instead of this as a burden as a series of opportunities. In fact, people
used to go to a job and stay in that job forever. That doesn’t happen anymore. How boring is
that? So think of it as a chance to find and discover new things. If you start a job or
business this summer or fall or a year from now, you’re going to realize how much runway
you actually have. In the past, people talked about career ladders, and that’s what work
felt like. If you were lucky, and you were diligent, and you sucked up and all that stuff,
you went up the ladder. Do you want to do that, no. First of all, ladders are very unstable.
Do a career pyramid so you have a great basis, you can change your mind, you can do a lot
of different things. It felt like that when I left to join 3M and then Digital Equipment.
It felt like that at Sun Microsoft in the 80’s. Back in the 80’s when I was at Sun,
computers didn’t talk to one another. There was no Internet. There was no e-mail. There
were no web apps. There were no ping pong tables and bean chair, bag chairs in the lounge.
It was pretty boring. In fact, we sent letters to customers, and then wait two weeks to get
a response. It was actually kind of chilling, but that’s not what your life is about. Corporate
information was very, very hard to get to. The world of work was very hierarchical. None
of this stuff is happening now. Businesses are so eager to get your brains. They’re so
eager to get your ideas. They’re so eager to get your thinking. So the question I have
and pose to you is how are you going to take advantage of that. So no ceremony is finished
without some advice. So here’s mine. I have a lot of advice, but this is the clean advice.
OK. [laughter] First, hang with the right people. That’s always been true, but it’s
even more important in this open world of social networks. Networking was once considered
a very self-conscious way to get ahead. It meant passing out business cards, but your
social network is very, very important to you as you move through your career. A good
network can take you down. A bad network can take you down. A good network can give you
inspiration and ideas. So hang with the right people. Second, learn how to communicate and
how to listen. I don’t care what career it is. You have to know how to communicate. Practice
actually writing a great paragraph, not a Tweet. Master the elevator pitch so that you
can tell somebody in ten seconds what you’re interested in, what you do, what your company
does, what your products do. The best path to success in any business, marriage, friendship
is communication. After you’ve done that, learn to listen. The problem with Facebook
and Twitter is we’ve trained a generation of people to post, chime in, react, respond,
but not really sit back and listen. So remember how important listening is in every aspect
of your life. I sometimes worry that your generation is a generation on transmit and
never receive. Do you even know what that means? That was supposed to be kind of funny.
[laughter] Thank you. Little too much Thursday night last night. When I was a CEO of AutoDesk
and Yahoo, some of the most interesting times are when the research, Ph.D.’s, and engineers
sat down and said this is the future. So think, listen, absorb. My third piece of advice,
and this is the last one, accept failure and learn from it. Failure is part of life. It’s
part of every career, and you have to know how to take advantage of it. The single greatest
strength that this country has via Silicon Valley is that failure is seen as a sign of
experience. Failure’s part of work. It’s part of life. People are willing to take risks
on the way to innovation. One of my fondest sayings is fail fast forward. Recognize you
failed, try to do it fast, learn from it, build on it, and move forward. Embrace failure.
Have it be part of your persona. You’re going to have long careers, as I’ve already told
you. You’re going to have many failures, personal, business, professional. I’ve had my share,
but just use as a building block to your next success. Most of all, be excited about what
awaits you. The virtue of a 50-year career is it gives you plenty of time. Plenty of
time to plan. Plenty of space for left and right turns for the unexpected, and plenty
of friendships. Plan to raise kids. That’s the best advanced degree you can get. You
think you’re smart, have a child. ^M00:13:35
[ Laughter ] [ Applause ] ^M00:13:46>>Carol Bartz: Plan, discover, and have interests
outside of work. Once I got home, I could be a trip to India. I went all over the world.
I’ve been in almost every country. I’d hit my garden. I’d see my family. I’m a [inaudible]
Wisconsin girl. Big garden, and that was just enough to just chill me out. But amid all
this planning, be open to any fork in the road. When I was at Sun, I had half the employees,
all the revenue, and I had a chance to be CEO at AutoDesk. I didn’t really care. I didn’t
know, I didn’t plan to be a CEO. Best move I ever made. It’s a fascinating company. So
don’t be blinded by taking a risk. Take a chance. Don’t be blinded by the anxiety of
this economy. Bob Noyce, who’s the founder of Intel, had a great expression. He said,
“Don’t be encumbered by history. Go out and do something wonderful.” Because of all the
hard work and diligence, the Class of 2012, you have the chance to do something wonderful.
Go out and do it. Thank you. ^M00:14:54
[ Applause ]

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2 thoughts on “UW–Madison 2012 Spring Commencement: Carol Bartz Address

  1. You're right, it was much better to have smallpox, poliomyelitis, malaria, and measles. That sounds like a fun afternoon to me.

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