“Tell the story you want to tell”: my 2-minute graduation speech

I’m going to begin and end my very brief remarks at today’s graduation with two quotes:

First from a technology blog earlier this year:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening…”

Depending on your point of view, our future is upon us and all is good.

Or, there’s more money to be made in the currency of social networks than in physical capital.

And possibly…this is all absolutely appalling. It’s a massive transfer of wealth to…vaporware.

They’re all legitimate perspectives, and ones that our students — and the graduates who are about to cross this stage — explore on a regular basis in this age of what we call “Communication First.”

UW Department of Communication Graduation 2015 Hanson Hosein with KING5 anchor Lori Matsukawa

We’re proud of the work they’ve achieved as students. And we look forward to how they will lead as communications professionals, especially as their organizations increasingly look to them for guidance.

Yes, this technology has put us in state of pervasive connectivity.

But the core of our Communication Leadership program, with its degrees in digital media and communities & networks is more profound than that.

Our graduates seek to make sense of this world for us all through the optic of storytelling — and the currency of collaborative relationships that ensue from a story well told. Think creativity, connectivity and collectivity. That’s a true 21st century recipe for success — something I now hear often from the business and civic leaders who consult with us.

So it’s fitting that the second quote I want to share with you today is not about technology, but about story. It’s from Terence Winter, the creator of the HBO show, Boardwalk Empire, whose finale aired a few months ago.

“You tell the story you want to tell. And when it’s done, you’re done.”

Communication Leadership’s graduates for 2015 have reached the end of this particular story. But they have so many more to tell. And we look forward to listening to them.