The Greatest Speeches in History: Howard Schultz and His Commencement Address at Arizona State University

Howard Schultz

The Greatest Speeches in History is a weekly column that compiles the most memorable speeches in history with the goal to emphasize on the power of public speaking, to illustrate its importance, impact, and necessity to master.

The next speech that comes under the spotlight is from this year. In May 2017, one of the most notable entrepreneurs of our times, the famous founder and executive chairman of Starbucks, Howard Schultz delivered a very memorable commencement address at Arizona State University. Take a look at the most notable outtakes:

“But the second lesson was as they were going around the room and talking to me about their story, I kept hearing an African word I had never heard before. A word that Nelson Mandela used all the time. The word is “ubuntu” and finally, I got up the courage and I asked what does this word mean that you keep using. They couldn’t wait to share it with me.

In unison, they said, Howard, “Ubuntu” means I am because of you. I am because of you.”

“As a young boy, I could have never imagined that I would one day build a company of my own, let alone a company that would have more than 26,000 stores in 75 countries and employs more than 300,000 people.”

“Starbucks Coffee Company went public in 1992, and from 1992 to 2006, we were on a magical carpet ride in which everything we did turned to gold. But in 2007, the music stopped. We had lost sight of our shared purpose and our guiding principles, in which growth and success began to cover up mistakes and a disease set into Starbucks. That disease, hubris. We lost our way and believe it or not, we almost lost the entire company.

During this cataclysmic period, I was reminded what it means to love something and the responsibility that goes with it, as well as an understanding that leadership and moral courage is not a passive act.”

“This milestone in your life may come with some anxiety about what tomorrow holds and you may have questions that only time can answer.”

“But as a young man, who once sat nervously at his own commencement, I encourage you to always trust yourself and to be mindful of these three enduring questions. How will you respect your parents and honor your family? How will you share your success and serve others with dignity? And how will you lead with humility and demonstrate moral courage?”

“Summon your compassion, your curiosity, your empathy towards others and your commitment to service. Give more than you receive and I promise you, it will come back to you in ways you can’t possibly imagine.”

“Your generation can bring people together like no other. You can innovate, create, and lead. Your generation will transform our economy and create millions of new jobs. You will develop cleaner energy. You will make it so racism only exists in history books. Yes, you will. You will be the generation that teaches the world that we are at our best when we recognize, respect, and celebrate our diversity. You can and you will make your mark in our country and our shared humanity. Dream big, and then dream bigger, a more innovative dream, a more inclusive dream.”

“We are because of each other. Ubuntu! Ubuntu! Ubuntu! Yes! Say it with me! Ubuntu! Ubuntu! Ubuntu! Ubuntu!”

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