The shy and retiring former CEO of Microsoft Steve “there is a kind of hush” Ballmer could be about to embark on a new career as a motivational speaker.
Ballmer, serving as the commencement speaker for the 2014 graduating class at the University of Washington ditched the ceremonial graduation cap and launched into a rousing 15 minute speech that seemed to wake up the previously sedate audience of graduates and professors.
IN fact he managed to wake up most of Washington with his “Opportunity, Opportunity, Opportunity! It awaits you!” speech.
“It’s been a little low-key in here today for my taste,” said Ballmer, stalking the stage in the way familiar to many Microsoft keynote viewers over the years.
Ballmer took on a more serious tone when listing his three keys to success: Carpe diem (seize the day), have a point of view, and be hardcore.
He told the audience that he did not know what got him to drop out of business school and come to Microsoft.
“My parents thought I was a whack job. Neither one of them graduated college and they thought [Microsoft] was a wild idea. I was lucky, I seized the day,” he said.
Ballmer said he was in awe of the co-founder of Twitter and founder of Square, Jack Dorsey. He said the guy’s life proved that point of view creates opportunity.
He also called for people to hardcore – er like Nelson Mandela.
When Microsoft first decided it wanted to sell software into businesses, people said it couldn’t, Ballmer said. But the way around that was to be hardcore…
“Think of Nelson Mandela… The constant, non-stop, long-term fight against apartheid that finally paid off. Opportunity is about seizing what’s there. It is about having a point of view. But it’s also about patience and determination Opportunity is about seizing what’s there. It is about having a point of view. But it’s also about patience and determination,” he said.
Things will not necessarily come to you — ‘poof!’ — immediately and overnight. You’re going to have to be determined and long-term, he added to any poofs out there.
Ballmer said that it does not matter if you don’t know what you are doing after graduation.
“I am 58-years-old and I, too, don’t know what I’m doing again!” he said.