Hugh Evans, co-founder, and CEO of Global Citizen, a non-profit fighting to end poverty and eradicate diseases like polio around the globe, took an unconventional path while risking failure and encourages new graduates to do the same.
“Willing to embrace the unconventional path in life — living with the risk of failure and learning from your mistakes — and dreaming big and activating those dreams, even when it seems that all the cards are stacked against you,” he said, “are three of the most important tenants in life that you can possibly hold.”
Evans offered some insightful words for the class of 2020 during Verizon’s Class of 2020: #ReadyforAnything commencement series. (Verizon is Cashay’s parent company.)
Recognizing the unprecedented challenges 2020 graduates are facing in finishing their studies in this time and walking into an uncertain job market, Evans said that the most memorable life journeys are “unexpected, and often very unconventional” which has been the case for him.
‘You are on the edge of breakthrough when failure is a real possibility’
Evans recalled how in 2009, he was organizing the first Global Citizen Festival in New York and had the support of major banks when suddenly those banks, which were losing millions of dollars in the ongoing financial crisis, pulled their sponsorship.
The risk of failure was real. With only six weeks until the date of the show, the festival had no “headlining artists for the concert, and we were $1.5 million short of pulling it off,” Evans said.
But somehow the risk paid off, he soon got the needed funding and signed Neil Young as a headline artist and had a surprise appearance from John Legend.
“You are on the edge of breakthrough when failure is a real possibility, and sometimes a present reality,” Evans said. “I would even venture to say that you’re on the edge of breakthrough when failure is highly likely.”
While it can be hard these days to stand up for what you believe in with such a polarized political landscape and racial injustices “everywhere you turn,” Evan said it is “all the more reason to be assertive, to be bold and to use your voice to affect change.”
“Say clearly that black lives matter, that the status quo is unacceptable,” he said. “You will inspire the voices around you to speak up too, because some issues really do transcend political lines, they go beyond conservative or liberal Democrats or Republicans, the left or the right. They are universal.”
Class of 2020: #ReadyforAnything commencement address series will stream live on Fridays at 11 AM ET through June 12. You can watch on Verizon’s LinkedIn Channel, simulcast on Yahoo and Yahoo Life, and will be reaired on Yahoo Finance Fios. Speakers include President Bill Clinton, Hugh Evans, Jen Rubio, and Hans Vestberg.
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