What am I supposed to do now?

My advice to the incoming Class of 2020 at Bentley University

On August 24, 2016, Bentley University welcomed the Class of 2020 to campus during the Convocation ceremony. I was honored to present the keynote address to the students and their families.

Convocation is such an emotional event. There are always tears when the parents say goodbye to their college-aged children. As their parents leave campus and they settle into their dorm rooms or wander their campus, there is a feeling that hits these newly minted college freshmen. The feeling presents itself in a variety of ways: sadness, anxiety, excitement, joy. That feeling is driven by a sense of freedom and independence that these young men and women may have never felt before.


Bentley University, Convocation 2016, Keynote Address by Jim Pouliopoulos

And, one question is running through their minds: What am I supposed to do now? I gave the students some advice on how to handle that question.

It’s no longer a question of what they are supposed to do. They need to adopt a mindset where they seek self-discovery by asking a different kind of question. I also implored them to spend the next four years learning as much about themselves as they do learning about business and society. You can watch my Convocation address here.

One of the insights I didn’t share during my Convocation address was how to deconstruct a phrase that has caused a lot of debate regarding “doing what you love.”  The statement that seems to get tossed out a lot is: “Do what you love and the money will follow.

While I don’t disagree with the fundamental sentiment behind that phrase but it’s almost like a longer statement that had to be shortened to 140 characters so it could be shared on Twitter.  The statement is missing a lot of “fine print.”

In my opinion, the real message is:

Do what you love doing

       With people you enjoy …

               In an environment that protects your dream …

                       Learning things you want to learn …

                            Making an impact that you care about.

                                         Build a lifestyle based on all of this …

And enough money will follow.

My Convocation keynote address is here. You can watch the entire Convocation ceremony here.

How have you found happiness and career satisfaction?

Watermelon Seeds and Career Satisfaction

Retake control of your happiness by dealing with external forces that impact your most important decisions

Watermelon seeds have taken a bit of abuse over the past decades. Have your dreams, aspirations and career goals suffered the same fate? In my 2016 TEDx Talk, I explained how the two are connected and what to do about it.

One of my fondest childhood memories is of eating unending slices of watermelon, in the backyard on lazy summer nights. My family had picnic dinners almost every evening. My brother and I would reach for the watermelon as soon as we could and were always warned, jokingly I think, not to eat the seeds — or a watermelon might grow in our stomachs. We did everything we could to get rid of the seeds, either spitting them out all over the place, or tightly gripping them between our fingers and catapulting them into the night sky.

Year after year, we would play this watermelon game and at some point, it occurred to me to wonder why our backyard wasn’t overflowing with growing watermelons. Not even one took root in all those years. I couldn’t figure it out. Where were all the watermelons?

Years later, those playfully-abused watermelon seeds made me think about kids growing up today, and the pressures they’re under…       Read the rest here.

I had the privilege of giving a second TED Talk in April 2016 as part of TEDxBentleyU. This year, I focused on the subject of the external forces that exert powerful influence on our major decisions often resulting in our lives being propelled into careers, relationships, and situations where we are frustrated, stagnant and unhappy. By pausing and consciously changing our behavior we can take control of our life’s direction and find genuine happiness and true success.

You can read my blog entry about this TED Talk on Bentley University’s PreparedU website