Inspiring Graduation Speeches that have Valuable Customer Success Lessons

In honor of graduation season, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the most inspiring commencement speeches to date and pull out some lessons that can be applied to our day-to-day experiences in Customer Success.

We think these speeches will change not only how you look at success but also how you handle failure in life and in your career.

Barack Obama
Barnard College, 2012

“Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.”

Customer Success needs to have a seat at the leadership table to make sure the voice of the customer is being heard and considered in all decision-making. If Customer Success isn’t the operating philosophy driving the direction of the company, then it will be very likely that you will lose the heart of your business – your customers.

Ellen Degeneres
Tulane University, 2009

“Some of the most devasting things that happen to you will teach you the most.”

While loosing a customer to churn certainly isn’t a life or death situation, it can still be upsetting. The key is to learn from your churn. Use it as an opportunity to understand what went wrong, what were the warning signs and what could have been done differently. These instances will be your biggest learning opportunities.

J.K. Rowling
Harvard University, 2008

“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

As a Customer Success Manager, you will regularly be expected to “think outside of the box” to come up with a creative solution or workaround to a customer problem, which will also help source new product ideas. In order to better understand the customer’s needs/desires that you are solving for, you will need to be empathetic to their specific set of circumstances. These powers of invention and understanding will take you far in your career (and in life).

Jim Carey
Maharishi University of Management, 2014

“I’m making a conscious choice to perceive challenges as something beneficial, so that I can deal with them in the most productive way.”

Although you might wish for all customer on-boarding or implementation projects to be smooth sailing, that’s not reality. You are bound to encounter roadblocks along the way. The truth is you can use these instances as an opportunity to show first hand your dedication by helping the customer remove their barriers to success with your skilled technical assistance and personalized guidance. Your relationship with the customer will be stronger as a result of this type of engagement.

Sheryl Sandberg
University of California, Berkeley, 2016

“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are – and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”

As we mentioned above it’s inevitable that you are going to encounter customer issues, and they should be used as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with the customer. Another silver lining is that with each customer challenge, you are also adding to your product/industry/practical knowledge. With each problem you solve you are becoming an even better Customer Success Manager.


If you’re looking for more inspiration check out these five Ted Talks that translate to Customer Success. 


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