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Fortune Cookies

By Dian Vujovich

It’s graduation time. A time like no other in a young person’s life when high school graduates typically leave their homes to join the work force, enlist in one of the armed services, travel or continue their education. And it’s a time when college grads choose to do basically the same.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I was a guest at the Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Mont. It’s an incredible spot that lives up to all the accolades and awards received and then some. Owned by Craig R. Barrett, the recently retired chairman of the board of Intel, like a microprocessor the place is magical.

I sat next to Barrett at dinner one evening and he told me about the commencement speech he’d given to the graduates of University of Montana in Missoula earlier in the week. I liked what I heard because instead of crafting his speech around the words of wisdom from say scholars, philosophers or scientists, he went for the simple advice that everyone can understand — that found in fortune cookies.

A fan of those folded little cookies, Barrett offered the following fortune cookie advice:

  • Fortune cookie No. 1 came from the Stanford graduate’s favorite Chinese restaurant in Silicon Valley, Chef Chu’s: “The world will always accept talent with open arms.”

Barrett: “Translated that means that education is the key that opens doors of opportunity. With a good education you can have the chance to move to the next level.”

To be successful, he told the Montana Grizzly grads that each would need to continue to learn as they progress through life. “The easy part of your education is now over. The tough part will start in the professional marketplace.”

Understanding the realizations of a global economy, Barrett said, “How do we (the United States) compete with the likes of China and India? How do we create the smart people and the smart ideas necessary for the 21st century and success? … We are currently struggling with these issues. But fundamentally, we are hampered by the feeling that we have always been No.1, that we will always be No.1 and that we don’t really need to do anything different. I think nothing could be further from the truth… If you want to win, you must choose to compete…”

  • And from a restaurant in Malaysia came the last bit of fortune cookie wisdom: “A small deed done is better than a great deed planned.”

Barrett reminded his audience that “individual actions carry much more importance and impact than the great deeds planned.”

He closed by wishing all good luck and added, “There are only two things that once gained can never be taken away from you. They are your education and your personal integrity.”

Perhaps that ought to have been fortune cookie No. 4.

The full speech is at: www.tinyurl.com/nvtule.

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