Bob Iger, Executive Chairman and former CEO of the Walt Disney Company, delivered the address on Saturday at the University of Texas at Austin.
In his speech, Iger urged the graduates to dream big and to ignore the naysayers early on.
“”[T]There are simply no dreams that are too big here. Your possibilities are enormous, “said Iger.
He also encouraged graduates to embrace failures and setbacks.
“Almost every successful person I know has fought or failed at some point,” said Iger.
Iger pointed out that Steve Jobs was fired from Apple (the company he founded) and Walt Disney was fired from one of his first jobs as a newspaper artist because “he lacked the imagination.”
“Walt failed several times over the years. However, he was always the optimist and never stopped dreaming big and bold,” he added.
And if your first dream does not come true, Iger said: “Find someone else and pursue him with the same conviction.”
“I failed as a weatherman, and then the guy I worked for told me I wasn’t good enough to ever get the next job. Fortunately, he was wrong. I got another job, one Promotion, and the rest is history, “said Iger.
Iger advised graduates to speak up and tell the truth even when it is difficult for others to hear and use technology “to heal, not to harm”.
“Be a force for the good in our world because there is so much that needs to be fixed and make sure you embrace life,” he said.
Iger was CEO of Disney for 15 years before stepping down in February 2020. During his tenure, Iger was instrumental in making Disney a media powerhouse with several major acquisitions including Pixar, Marvel and 21st Century Fox.
Despite accumulating a fortune (which Forbes estimates to be worth $ 690 million), the 70-year-old Iger wasn’t always part of the 1%; he had to start at the bottom, according to his book “The Ride of a Lifetime”.
Iger last attended the University of Texas when speaking at the university’s VIP Distinguished Speaker Series in 2018.
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This story has been updated to include comments from Iger’s opening speech.