5 Secrets Adults Won’t Tell You – Kyle Zimmer’s Commencement Speech at Saint Mary’s College

Our intrepid leader, CEO, and co-founder of First Book, Kyle Zimmer, shared some of the wit and wisdom that motivates the First Book team on a daily basis with a crowd of graduates of Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame this Saturday.

Five Secret Lessons for Graduates from Kyle Zimmer, Founder of First Book, Commencement at Saint Mary's College Notre DameAdults Are Not Really Certain of Anything.

“In my own life, it took me far too long to figure this out. When I was young, I got distracted by adults who would swagger or bluster. I assumed that anyone who was that forceful MUST know what they were talking about.”

You Are Going to Fail.

“The truth is that, although you can fail without ever succeeding, it is impossible to succeed without failing. Every famous person who has ever succeeded has failed –- and usually significantly -– before contributing their success to the world.”

Grit Trumps IQ.

“Researchers have been confounded by the fact that having a high IQ does not correlate to success. Finally one woman, Angela Lee Duckworth, started performing wide-ranging analysis and she has discovered that, while it is certainly handy to have a high IQ -– grit is by far the better indicator of potential. She defines grit as ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals.’ You are all blessed elevated IQs –- which will give you a leg up -– but your task now is to find your passion – and get gritty – and no one will be able to stop you.”

Community Is Everything. Build It and Be A Part of It.

“The institutions you will encounter will likely not have communities that are as strong and supportive as St. Mary’s. They will need you to build them up: at work, at home, with people who are kind and smart and have a great sense of humor. Wait — let me reorder that -– build with people who have a great sense of humor and who also are smart and kind. For heaven’s sake, prioritize the sense of humor. It sustains everyone.”

The Most Powerful Force in the World is Empathy.

Empathy is powerful because it demands action. This world is a needy place and we cannot afford the luxury of inaction. Pledge yourself to empathy. It will require you — when you can — to take on monumental action on behalf of others, but it also requires you to take smaller actions every single day. Hold the door for the person behind you, smile at somebody who never gets a smile. Just do it. Our world needs you desperately.”

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Posted in Expert Voices, Inside First Book, Thought Leaders
4 comments on “5 Secrets Adults Won’t Tell You – Kyle Zimmer’s Commencement Speech at Saint Mary’s College
  1. Cherie Schofield says:

    Wow! Truer words were never spoken.

  2. cheryl Weismantel says:

    Wow! Judy Zimmer is my dearest friend, remember me Kyle! Judy and I were friends from 1st grade, 6 years old! I am so inspired and impressed by everything I just read, and you are right on! I was the baby of the family, Judy was the oldest, and sometimes the younger ones, as my mom said, look up and see it all. You apparently have done this and have reached a state of wisdom! God bless you.

  3. Gayle Channing Tenenbaum says:

    Kyle, What a shot in the arm reading these wonderful words were for me. We are in a struggle to bring health care to 275,000 uninsured Ohioans including mental health and addiction treatment—–should not be difficult —-Our Policy makers need a huge dose of Empathy—-on both sides of the aisle. These words will give me the energy to keep working for the next 3 weeks to get this done. Much love, Gayle


    Thanks to you and FIRSTBOOK the kids in Rusk County Texas have several books to read this summer!!