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At Guest Relations Marketing, there are many organizations near and dear to our hearts. If you’re looking for a great evening that will benefit a wonderful cause, check out these events. Each one helps give back to children in-need, both locally and globally.

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Earlier in December, Guest Relations Marketing engaged renowned photographer Jimmy Williams to showcase the beautifully designed Miromar Lakes private residential community, near Naples, Florida.

The vision of Miromar Lakes’ founder to create a resort-style lifestyle based on the Mediterranean Riviera is portrayed brilliantly in Jimmy’s work. Miromar Lakes was named #1 community in the nation by the NAHB (National Association of Homebuilders) in 2011.

Stay tuned to see the ad campaign featuring this amazing photography, but for now take a look at our behind-the-scenes shots:

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We’ve made two new additions to the Guest Relations Marketing family. What do we love most about summertime? Interns. And we’ve got some good ones on our hands.

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Victoria Skinner, our Account Management intern, is a rising Senior at the University of Georgia, with a major in Advertising and a minor in French. Victoria was also a student in the New Media Institute at UGA, where she obtained a New Media certificate and most of her web skills.

So what is Victoria a Zealot for? Disney! Hey, who isn’t? After obtaining some experience in Atlanta, Victoria hopes to work for Disney, or continue on with an agency Account Management position that allows her to travel internationally.

Alan Carroll, our Account Planning intern, is a recent UGA grad with a passion for books and all things sports. For him, there is nothing more exciting than the thrill of a big win by the Georgia Bulldogs or the intrigue of exploring the worlds of George R.R. Martin, Clive Cussler, and Tom Clancy. He also enjoys playing the piano and gaming in his spare time.

When he isn’t devouring some new sci-fi/fantasy novel or having a few drinks with friends on a Saturday afternoon at Turner Field, Alan is busy advancing his education under the tutelage of Mike Tyre. Having only received his bachelor’s degrees in advertising and psychology two months ago, Alan just now beginning to explore what directions his career might go in.

Both Alan and Victoria hope to use their time here at Guest Relations Marketing to continue to grow in an industry that is constantly changing and expanding.

Mike Tyre, managing partner of Guest Relations Marketing, has been invited to join the Board of Childspring International.

Childspring International facilitates life-changing medical and “whole person” services to children in underserved medical countries.

The success of this Atlanta-based organization has generated increased demand for its services, necessitating a more strategic marketing and development program. Mike will be involved in this area. Check them out and you can support their cause by following them on Facebook, Twitter, or joining their email database.

CURE Childhood Cancer just announced record donations of $3.1 million received in its just-concluded fiscal year. This represents about a 200% gain in annual giving since they became a client of Guest Relations Marketing in 2007.  This has been accomplished primarily through activating their Zealots through online media and events.

More importantly, this has resulted in tremendous advances in research. We are striving for the ultimate success story – finding ultimate cures for childhood cancers. It is coming!

As you know, Facebook announced last week the rollout of Timeline for Brands. We have scoured the internet and really feel that Mashable has some of the best tips and know-how, so we wanted to share them with you. We’d love to know what you think about this new change for Facebook.

From Mashable

1. Updated Look and Feel


What’s new: The format of Timeline for brands is quite similar to Timeline for personal profiles. It employs a cover photo at the top of the Page, and the Page is separated into two main columns by a dividing line, which represents the passage of time. This format provides brands with new options for self-expression: They can outline their corporate history with milestones (such as product launches, store openings, etc.) to construct a narrative for their audience.

Recommendation: Milestones present an important and dramatic opportunity to educate the public, humanize the brand and remove a perception of corporate anonymity. Our analyses of Page engagement have continually shown that brands posting content that depicts behind-the-scenes activities, exclusive updates or promotions encourages user interactions and promotes higher engagement rates. Using interesting milestones to craft the story of the brand over time (and updating the Timeline with new milestones as they happen) can help to stimulate conversations around major achievements.


2. Reduced Tab Visibility


What’s new: The new Timeline format does not have the left-side panel of links, which could include hundreds of different tabs. While applications still exist, they’ll display differently, in rectangular panels underneath the cover photo. The width of the Timeline and the space allocated for native apps like Photos means that only three tab panels are viewable at any given time. To see more, users must expand the tab panel by clicking a drop-down box.

Recommendation: For marketers, this major change means that the three above-fold tab apps need to be considered carefully — this will be one of the first things users see when interacting with your brand on Facebook. Brands will want to switch up which tabs are visible “above the fold,” according to current company objectives or project popularity. A good Page analytics tool will be useful for determining which tab to promote on a day-to-day basis.


3. No Default Landing Page


What’s new: With the new Timeline Page format, you will no longer be able to set a default landing Page, a favored feature for many savvy brands. The option was one of the primary ways to control the first (branded) impression a user encountered. Since there are no more tab Pages, there is no way to set one as a default. This will drastically change user impressions when they first visit a brand’s Timeline Page.

Recommendation: You will need to apply new and careful attention to all the top messages in the Timeline, as they will be the first objects seen by visiting users. Likewise, Facebook ads for brands will become ever important, as ads will be one of the major ways brands on Facebook can control a user’s experience. Setting up an advertising campaign for a Facebook promotion or new application will be the only way to guide new and clicking users directly to that application (as landing on this Page cannot be achieved by default).


4. New Way to Feature Content


What’s new: One major new feature that marketers will love is the ability to “pin” certain posts to the top of the Timeline. Similar to marking a blog post “sticky,” so that it remains at the top of a blog for a specified period of time, pinning a post to the top of Timeline allows it to precede any other content. A pinned post is distinguished by a small, orange flag. Brands can pin only one item at a time, and the pinned item then exists in two locations — as the top item on the Timeline itself, as well as within its chronological place. Once unpinned (which happens automatically when a new item gets pinned, or the item has been pinned for more than seven days), the post remains in the chronology of Timeline posts, but there is no visual history that it was pinned in the past.

Recommendation: Since you can no longer create a default landing Page, pinning items to the top of the Timeline will become every marketer’s go-to strategy for highlighting new and interesting content. We will begin to see savvy brands design posts specifically to be pinned, whether images, a well-designed call-to-action, a statement about brand value, or a message calling for the user to click one of the tab panels under the cover photo.


5. Current Tab Content and Applications Become Outdated


What’s new: The new Timeline layout displaces Facebook’s existing Page tab configuration (including a tab’s 520-pixel width), and replaces it with a new 810-pixel layout. As a result, existing Page tab content will look centered in the middle of the 810-pixel layout without any adjustments. All applications that remain on a brand’s Page will need new application icons (the new dimensions are 111×74).

Recommendation: The most pressing updates for brands will be to update the images and tab functionality of the above-fold two apps. As these are the first tabs users will see, they will likely be the first to be interacted with, or entirely ignored if not optimized for the new experience.


6. Private Messages Between Brands and Users


What’s new: Finally, brands will be able to send and receive private messages with users. This allows for much deeper consumer interaction, and will also enable Page managers to take extended customer inquiries off the Timeline and into a private message.

Recommendation: Be mindful of noise in the Timeline. Since the real estate allocated to each post depends on how engaging it is or how much interaction it has received, it can be easy to clutter your Timeline with customer inquiries. When these inquiries can be better serviced in a more one-on-one manner, reach out to the consumer with a private message and resolve her question. It’s a good opportunity to yield both a happy user and a clean Timeline.

Timeline for brands will certainly shake things up for social media marketers who seek to make an impact on Facebook. One thing is for sure though: The way content is shared and viewed within a Timeline Page is incredibly important. Brands that constantly create engaging updates and share important milestones will stay at the forefront of users’ attention. Create and rotate new apps for engagement, pin relevant and timely content, and update the feed with user-friendly dialogues to stay relevant in this new space.

Will you or your company do anything differently, right off the bat? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

3. Timeline leveraging history

Dating back to 1878, Manchester United can use Timeline to honor its rich history. This photo shows the club’s league championship from 1908.

Here are some great examples:

1. Cover photo potential

Here, Coca Cola uses snazzy design to make a strong visual impression on visitors.


2. Cover photos for teams

Manchester United uses its cover photo to reflect the inherent passion, camaraderie and joy of sports.


3. Timeline leveraging history

Dating back to 1878, Manchester United can use Timeline to honor its rich history. This photo shows the club’s league championship from 1908.


4. Timeline for callouts

Here, Manchester United leverages Timeline’s strong visual elements by starring a specific current post, making it appear twice as wide.


5. Coldplay cover photo

Coldplay’s Timeline cover photo hints at the wealth of potential the new format holds for bands and other performers.


6. Ben & Jerry’s cover photo

Ben & Jerry’s cover photo further illustrates Timeline’s potential to make a strong first impression on Page visitors.


7. Ben & Jerry’s Timeline

Ben & Jerry’s timeline itself showcases the new brand platform’s strong visual elements.


8. Ben & Jerry’s milestone

Here, Ben & Jerry’s uses the new format to call out an important company milestone — its introduction of several new flavors in 1999.


9. Timeline makes Pages more social

When you visit a Page, you see how many of your friends have liked the company, as well as friends’ relevant public posts. Here, Ben & Jerry’s serves as an example.


10. Different cover photos for different Pages

Restaurants can leverage the new design by showing off what they serve. Here, Starbucks flaunts its coffee beans.


11. How many of your friends like Starbucks?

Further evidence of how Pages are more social with Timeline.


12. A local twist

Here, the Page of Manhattan’s Magnolia Bakery shows how, for local businesses only, a map appears

in the row of apps below the cover photo.


13. ESPN’s cover photo

ESPN’s cover photo is an intriguing shot from the set of its iconic Sportscenter show.


14. Baby’s first show

Here, ESPN highlights its first Sportscenter broadcast with a doublewide photo in its timeline.


15. Livestrong’s cover photo

Livestrong chooses to make its logo the central theme of its Page cover photo.


16. Starring an important message

Livestrong starred this post that provides resources for people under emotional duress as a result of cancer.

Starring it calls extra attention to the post by making it twice as wide as others.


17. A Livestrong milestone

Organizations similar to Livestrong can highlight specific milestones, such as the opening of new services.

This post celebrates the debut of Livestrong’s Cancer Navigation Center.


18. Meet the admin panel

Timeline introduces a new format for administrators of brand Pages, and one that should be simpler to use.


19. Getting to know you

The admin panel features notifications, analytics, messages and, yes, a help menu to ease your transition to the new set-up.


Why do you want to intern?

You’re looking for an opportunity to gain school credit?

You are seeking to get real-world experience?

You’re ready to launch your career?

You had an advertising campaigns class and really liked it?

Mom or Dad said you have to get out of the house and do something?

Those are all nice reasons. But those are not us.

We’re looking for one intern. That one.

We’re about creating more zealots for our clients.

We’re zealots for our clients.

We’re zealots about our work.

Our intern? That one?

A zealot. A zealot for inventing, creating, solving, satisfying and doing.

Our interns are on the firing line.  No hiding here.

No auditing our program. You’re in the game. Real work. Real involvement with clients. Real problems to solve. Real opportunity.

We’re looking, too. For that one.

Passionate. Intelligent. Witty. Teammate. Winner. A Zealot for Life.

Our internship is not a “give back to the community” program. We’re looking for the one individual who is bursting to get in the game, start practicing their craft and change the way marketing happens.

Our interns get to do a lot of work. It usually results in a real job. Because they will have proven they can do real work.

Guest Relations Marketing is almost six years old. We’re still a kid. And, we only recently instituted our intern program. So, what is our track record? We’ve had three interns. Two we hired permanently. The third? Currently working for an online agency. The partners of Guest Relations established an intern program at their previous agency. The program became so renowned that other agencies called to interview and hire our interns.

Nothing fancy here. Just one great opportunity. For one great intern. Are you the one?

Tell us why. Email April: avoris@guestrelationsmarketing.com.

______________________________________________________________________________

The requirements:

Primary Objectives of the Program:

  • Provide a “real world” learning experience
  • Cross-platform training & project execution

Program Opportunities & Requirements:

  • Intended as major course credit/learning
  • Available starting:  February, April, June, September
  • 30 – 35 hours per week / 90-day commitment required
  • Unpaid internship

Basic Duties:

  • Get an overall view of full scope of marketing duties and interaction, through participation in internal and client meetings
  • Develop a project essentially from start to finish, including presentation to the client
  • Assist team in developing specific recommendations, projects or analyses in support of client or agency programs
  • Other as approved by specific program outline

Internship Program May Include:

  • Competitive interview process
  • DISC or other profile analysis
  • Educational platform that may include such topics as:
    • Marketing 101: Agency vs. client-side
    • How to effectively work with your clients
    • Traffic, project management & time management
    • Account planning & research
    • Importance of great creative
    • The new media frontier
    • Social media training
    • Effective e-Communication & database management
    • Presentations, communications, and brand you
  • Networking & industry event opportunities
  • Mid-point and final performance review

Qualifications:

  • Demonstration of high interest/passion for advertising profession
  • Good communication skills, particularly writing ability
  • Flexible, team-oriented
  • Advertising, marketing or related major emphasis
  • Junior, senior or recent graduate

Program Contact:

  • Submit the following three items:
  1. Your resume
  2. One thing you are a Zealot for (and why)
  3. Best example of your writing capabilities

 

Yes Super Bowl is about the football, if you know anything about our office you know we love football. But it is also all about the ads and we love to talk about them. Wasn’t it your water cooler chatter today? It certainly was ours and we asked our team to weigh in on their favorites. Here is what they had to say:

Mike Tyre, Managing Partner:  The Chrysler ad

“One ad stood out.  It was totally about today.  Truthfully with just a little editing, viewers might have considered it a part of the programming.  The commercial was Chrysler.  It is getting widely praised as the “best of” for this Super Bowl.  Three reasons why.  First, in a sea of ads trying to be humor, be clever or tell you how smart or great they are, Chrysler talked about you … or the American people.  It reflected the angst and the polarization in this country’s political climate.  And, it offered a solution … “Americans get behind Detroit.”  Made you feel it.  Great casting.  As a contrast, GE ran a couple of ads.  They were frankly boring.  Why?  They are talking about what they are doing and their people.  Employees and stockholders maybe will like it, but nothing on the emotive meter.  Secondly, terrific positioning.  A great play of media placement and messaging.   Third, people look to brands that can aspire something greater.  In a game that represents the culmination of dreams for players, Chrysler connected their brand.  Not to buying sheet metal, but to being a part of “rekindling” the American Dream.  How can you not jump on that train?  Did it sell cars?  I know this.  A lot of people who wouldn’t have considered Chrysler at all are at least thinking about them now.  Chrysler at least got into the consideration stage for a lot of viewers.  That makes their commercial the MVP of Super Bowl ads.”

Bob Richardson, Copywriter: The Audi Vampires Ad

“An unusual scenario for top tier car brand. This spot uses a pop cult vampire spin to sell the product’s incomparable feature — the Audi brand’s ultra-powerful headlights. They shine on a group of vampires at night, like daylight, making vampires disappear. Even the vampire driver, amused and passing in front of the Audi’s headlights, vanishes in light of Audi’s mystical product feature. The joke IS the product — not detached — therefore effective.”

Jan Sharrow, Designer:  The Budweiser Eternal Optimism ad

“The nostalgic time line of the Budweiser – 2012 – Eternal Optimism ad. Budweiser has been around for many years and this ad illustrates how the brand has been a part of our history. It’s fun to watch snapshots of years gone by in a positive party setting. There are scenes from history from times before I was born until now. It gets more emotional to see times in history that I lived through such as the scene from the 1980’s. Make me want to party.”

April Voris, Partner:  The Honda Ferris Bueller ad

“My pick is the Honda commercial with Mathew Brodrick. It tapped into a nostalgia that anyone in a certain target age will relate, and this happens to be a target for the CRV. Even the last detail of the valet was brilliant.”

Amanda Kirkland, Producer:  The Kia ad

“I was born and raised in Alabama. Which means one thing for sure: I have no allegiance when it comes to NFL. So each year when the Super Bowl rolls around, the commercials are the highlight of my night.  My favorite commercial of the evening was the Kia spot. Which really surprised me. It opened up with a very creppy minion sneaking around people’s bedrooms, sprinkling pixie dust. I didn’t like it at all. Until the overdose of pixie dust resulted in the ultimate man-dream.  Between the macho man riding a bucking rhino and a monstrous sandwich being sawed in half by lumberjacks, I was in stitches. But my favorite part? When our hero rescued his leading lady – his wife – with the message that a Kia is a normal car for normal people. Good job, Kia.”

Charissa Schultz, Designer:  The Budweiser Weego ad

“I loved the Budweiser commercial with the dog named “Weego.” Besides the fact that I love ads with pets in them, It was entertaining to the very end, yet you never lost sight of the product in all the shenanigans with the dog. After carrying bottles to all the individual guests, Wego brought in a keg when he saw the crowd joining the party. And at the end, he came floating by in the pool with yet another cold Bud.  Even with all the going’s on, this ad subtly showed:  1. You can enjoy the product not only in bottles, but also by the keg.  2. It was a good refreshment for when you have a couple of friends over, or when you have a crowd.  3. People enjoy the product both inside and outdoors.  But the best reason to love this ad is that the owner stated at the very beginning that Weego was a “rescue dog.” That was an excellent ( and subtle – using only two words) way to show that the company cared about animal rights and supported finding homes for homeless pets.  And that earned this commercial a five-star rating from me!!”

Ashley Schoenith, Director of Social Media & Engagement:  Beyond TV

“Beyond the TV, I was impressed by some of the creative ways in which marketers capitalized on social for this year’s Superbowl – and Twitter lead the way. Chevy shines again through their sponsorship of trending topic #Superbowl. The folks at Shazam should be giving themselves a pat on the back too – I think I counted 6 different commercials that plugged them in some way. American Express and Pizza Hut partnering for a Super Swarm Sunday promotion on FourSquare – also a nice touch. A few Facebook Ad buys from Toyota and The Voice seem to have garnered some interest, allowing us to engage back with the brand. The only thing missing for me? Pinterest of course. Maybe next year…”

Congratulations to Guest Relations Marketing Director, Engagement and Social Media, Ashley Schoenith on her new bundle of joy, Wyatt Boone Schoenith! Ashley and husband Shane welcomed their new addition to the family on November 26th.

Wyatt weighed 7 lbs. and was 20 inches long. Both Ashley and Wyatt are at home and doing well. Congrats again to the Schoenith family!

I felt it was only appropriate to honor the founder of the products that each one of us at Guest Relations are Zealots for.  If you have not read Steve Jobs Commencement address to the students at Stanford in 2005, you should take a moment and soak in his words of wisdom.  You will always be remembered as one of the greatest innovators of our time.  Rest in Peace, Steve.

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This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

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