On Saturday, September 24, my friend and and former Sage colleague of mine, Rob Johnson, delivered the closing luncheon keynote at the last Simply Partnership Conference at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
Jennifer Warawa, the newly minted vice president of partner programs and channel sales for Sage Small Business Solutions, and her team, in conjunction with Kimberly Dorony and the fabulous Sage Events team, did their usually outstanding jobs in putting on a great event.
In addition to our keynote (slides below), Rob and I performed our version of Wear Sunscreen as a commencement address. Here is the text of the speech:
Rob: Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of 2011:
Ed: If we could offer you only one tip for the future, backing up your data would be it. The long term benefits of backing up have been proved by technologists everywhere whereas the rest of our advice has no basis more reliable than our own meandering experiences… We will dispense this advice now.
Rob: Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve a network connectivity issue by using bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you in your office at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
Ed: Do one thing every day that scares you.
Ed: Don’t be reckless with your customer’s emotions, and don’t put up with customers who are reckless with yours.
Ed: Don’t waste your time on being jealous of other Sage partners; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Rob: Always accept a mint if offered to you.
Ed: Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this; tell us how.
Ed: Keep your old customers thank you notes but, throw away your old manuals.
Rob: Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Ed: Enjoy your mind, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.
Rob: Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Ed: Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.
Rob: Read the directions, even if, like me, you don’t intend follow them.
Ed: Spend more time with your parents; you never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Rob: Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Ed: Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few that you should hold on to, work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.
Ed: Spend some time in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; spend some time in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Rob: Respect your elders.
Ed: Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Rob: Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a triple A customer, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.
Ed: Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
Rob: But trust us on backing up.