The speech given by the Rome Business School’s founder, Antonio Ragusa, at the graduation ceremony of 13 may 2017
“Dear graduands, family members, and guests,
Welcome to the Rome Business School’s graduation ceremony and thank you for being here today. Many of you come from afar and have faced a long journey to be here. We are honoured by your presence and are pleased that you have accepted the invitation to take part in this celebration.
Many other students were not able to be here in person, but, today, technology helps us, they are following us online and I would like to also greet them with affection.
Today, we want to pay tribute to the outcome of your work and commitment.
I know that, on occasions such as this, there is a risk of being too rhetorical or celebratory. So I will try not to be.
But, to tell you the truth, I think we should celebrate our small and big successes much more. In the frenzy of everyday life, we are not accustomed to stop for a moment and rejoice over what we have accomplished. Nevertheless, celebrating results is very important to feel more satisfied, serene, and happy.
And, today, we have something to celebrate, because you have done something important. You have completed an international, challenging, top-level study path. We put you to the test; you put yourselves to the test.
It was not easy, we know that well. To arrive to this day, this academic outfit and this ceremony took so much study, so many tests, assignments, final projects… so much serious and determined work.
But you did it. With your commitment, ability, and spirit of sacrifice
It has been a long and intense journey, one which I hope has enriched you from the cultural, professional and personal points of view. The first results are already evident. Many of you have already had a development in their career and everyone has surely received some useful stimuli for your growth.
Now, I think you are in a position to do even more and better in your life. You belong to the small group of people on the planet who have completed post-university studies. You have a wealth of knowledge and experience far superior to the average, one which increases your potentiality and also your responsibilities, I would say. The Latins said that “scientia potentia est”, which means “knowledge is power”. It’s true, but up to a point. Because knowledge is only power if it is used, that is if we act. And if we act in the right way.
Now, being a little older than you, and without the pretense of teaching you anything, I want to share some reflection on what my experience was. To give you some further stimulus and inspiration for your next steps.
First of all, I would like to point out that, whether we like it or not, our time is limited, and much of it is occupied by work. For this, I invite you to do a job you really like. A job that coincides with what you love, which represents you, reflecting your true passion.
Do not be afraid to fail. If you love something, try to believe in yourself, and with labour and dedication you will achieve it. There will be obstacles, difficulties, and temporary defeats. But you can do it. And, at least, you will be on a journey that will make you happy. More than the results you achieve, what is really important is the person that you will become along the way.
I want to tell you a little story about me.
When I decided to found the Rome Business School, everyone saw it as an impossible challenge, a folly. They thought I would never make it. And how could you blame them?
We were in the midst of an unprecedented world economic recession (and, in part, we still are!). And I started with zero students, zero teachers, zero capital, zero collaborators, surrounded by strong and consolidated competitors. But I had a purpose, a vision, a great deal of passion, willpower, workmanship, and good studies.
Less than six years have passed and today the Rome Business School is one of the world’s most international business schools, with over 400 students enrolling annually from more than 140 countries. Students who, thanks to the quality of our training and of our career service, are emerging as new leaders of the global era.
How has it been possible? I want to share with you what I think is the key to a successful path. I condensed it in four Ps. Those of you who have studied marketing remember (hopefully) the Ps of the marketing mix. These are the four Ps for my life mix!
The first P is Purpose: first of all, we must make it clear in ourselves and identify what is the underlying goal of our existence. Up to a certain point in my life I wandered in the dark, I did not know exactly what to do and where to direct my existence. Then, I focused on the fact that my great passion is culture, along with music.
And that is where the story of this business school also started.
I am convinced that each one of us has been born to do something unique. We have to reflect on what we were born for, which coincides with what we really like. Without this inner passage it is difficult to move forward well. If we do not know where we want to go, it is really hard to get there. So always try to listen to that voice—which, for some, is immediately strong; for others. it is a whisper—that tells you who you really are and what your mission in life is.
The second P is that of Perspective: a key factor of success is the mental approach we take towards ourselves and the world around us. In summary, it is essential, first of all, that you believe in yourself. We are often full of limiting beliefs. But the reality is that those limitations are often the ones that we set up ourselves.
Regarding the outside world, of course, we must be prepared for the fact that we will encounter many obstacles and problems on our way. But it is important to adopt the right perspective: these problems should be seen as growth opportunities, like a gym that enables us to become stronger and improve.
The third P is Productivity. With productivity, I mean that, to do things, theorizing or planning is not enough; you need to act! Avoid falling into what some call analysis paralysis. There is a time when we need to break the laziness, to stop thinking and start doing. Even though not everything is quite ready, even though not everything is as perfect as it could be. Do it, run it. The more you act, the more results you will achieve. I will tell you more: talent is certainly important. But work and a spirit of sacrifice are even more. So many successful people have become successful because, although they were less gifted naturally, they worked harder than others.
My fourth and final P of life is that of Persistence. This is one of the most important Ps. And that is the ultimate exhortation I want to give to you. Never give up. You will surely find so many difficulties in your journey. They are part of the game of life. But you do not have to give up. Often, after the greatest of efforts, the result is just one inch away. The downhill slope begins just after the last step that took you to the top of the incline.
And failures are always temporary. They are just steps that bring you closer to your goal.
Perseverance and willpower are also needed to deal with all those who will try to discourage you or that you will slam the door in your face. Again, do not get demoralized and keep going. Think that you will find yourself in good company, in the company of successful people who were initially rebuffed or had temporarily failed. I will mention just a few examples.
The Beatles, the greatest musical band of all time, were turned down after an audition at Decca records with the verbatim motivation “Guitar groups are on the way out”; “The Beatles have no future in show business”.
Albert Einstein, the man who formulated the theory of relativity, the great scientist, when was little, did not start talking until he was four. He was incapable of reading before he was seven. His teacher labeled him as “slow” and “mentally handicapped”. Then he won the Nobel Prize for Physics.
Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White, and many other characters, was even fired by a newspaper in his youth with the following motivation: “lack of imagination and good ideas.”
Thomas Edison. He is considered the father of the development of electricity and the inventor of the light bulb (actually, he was the one who made it available to the masses). One of his teachers said of him, “He’s too stupid to learn anything.” As a result, his mother took him out of school.
He succeeded in making the first electric bulb after thousands of attempts. But he never considered those attempts as failures, and said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work..”
Finally, dear graduands, I invite you to live with passion and enjoy this life whatever the circumstances, giving the best of yourselves.
If you have a secret dream, let it out! The world desperately needs people with the culture you have, who can make our societies and lives better.
As you know, the Rome Business School’s motto is Better Managers for a Better World. We count on you and we will always be there for you, so that you can express your potential to the fullest and make your contributions for a better future.
Meanwhile, I congratulate you again over your success.