A Formula for Success, Equality & Happiness

Farting, sex and dinner reservations.

I was honored to give the commencement address to the recent University of Pennsylvania undergraduate engineers. What I didn’t expect was the flood of emails that I have gotten from strangers (women and men) who have been compelled to share how my words are helping them, especially since I opened with:

“Failing is like farting. It’s natural, we all do it, we just don’t like to admit it.”

None of us are perfect and it’s inevitable that all of us will fall into deep potholes. It’s challenging for new graduates to understand this since many of them have never experienced real failure and their sole quest from K-12 through to college has been to get a high GPA. As such, I wanted to share with them ten things to keep in the back of their mind as they embarked on a new journey—one that is ambiguous, unscripted and something they are not prepared for:

  1. Expand your metrics beyond GPA.
  2. Reframe “Failure” and see it as a powerful catalyst for change that actually should be celebrated.
  3. Don’t be a Grump-a-Lump who stews when negative things happen. Rather, lead with potential and joy.
  4. Network, which means finding ways to help other people.
  5. Save early so you have financial flexibility, which will give you more options.
  6. Find your voice and ask for what you want because biases are infused in the workplace (biases against women, race, age and change).
  7. Do your part for diversity so we can move beyond only 15% women in positions of power
    • Women, ask for opportunities
    • Men, give opportunities to people who are not version of themselves and have an equal division of labor in the house, which studies show also happens to lead to a better sex life 🙂
    • Empower kids to do their part to support dual career parents
  8. Constantly reconfigure and tweak your blueprints and plans.
  9. Take the time to say thank you because no one has to help you.
  10. Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.
To find out how sex and dinner reservations help to drive towards happiness and equality, please go to www.failingislikefarting.com to see the rest of my commencement address. I hope these thoughts also help you to haul yourself out of a ditch next time you fall into one – just know when you are down there you are in great company!
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