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  • Writer's pictureJohn Kador

CEO QUIZ: Match the CEO to the Commencement Message

Duke University recently announced that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, will be its 2018 commencement speaker.

Apple CEO Tim Cook

If the past is a guide, a fair number of the speakers this Spring will be CEOs of public companies. University students regard many CEOs as cultural innovators on the cutting edge of social change. Some of these CEOs have cultivated familiar voices. Try matching these five well-known executives to their bits of recent graduation wisdom.

  1. Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon

  2. Tim Cook, CEO Apple

  3. David M. Cote, Executive Chairman Honeywell

  4. Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook

  5. Howard Schultz, Executive Chairman Starbucks

Sheryl Sandberg

Which CEO is quoted here?

1 “I’m not worried about artificial intelligence giving computers the ability to think like humans. I’m more concerned about people thinking like computers without values or compassion, without concern for consequences. That is what we need you to help us guard against. Because if science is a search in the darkness, then the humanities are a candle that shows us where we’ve been and the danger that lies ahead.”

2 “But as a young man, who once sat nervously at his own commencement, I encourage you to always trust yourself and to be mindful of these three enduring questions. How will you respect your parents and honor your family? How will you share your success and serve others with dignity? And how will you lead with humility and demonstrate moral courage?”

3 “I was working at a financial firm in New York City with a bunch of very smart people, and I had a brilliant boss that I much admired. I went to my boss and told him I was going to start a company. He took me on a long walk in Central Park, listened carefully to me, and finally said, ‘That sounds like a really good idea, but it would be an even better idea for someone who didn’t already have a good job.’”

4 “I was embarrassed, then I was angry, and I spent a few hours just quietly fuming. Why didn’t they tell me I was a bottleneck, why did they let me go on slowing them down? Then I realized that if they hadn’t told me, that was my fault. I hadn’t been open enough to tell them I wanted that feedback and I would have to change that going forward. When you’re the leader, it is really hard to get good and honest feedback, however many times you ask for it.”

5 “Hard work does not always pay off! If you’re working on the wrong thing, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, nothing will ever come of it. Don’t get me wrong. Hard work is important. Just make sure you’re working on the right thing. If you want to get ahead, you actually have to accomplish something. If you work 100 hours a week and nothing happened, then there is no story. The person who says, “but I worked really hard,” still has nothing to show for it. Harsh perhaps, but very true regardless of the endeavor.”


Answers: 1B, 2E, 3A, 4D, 5C


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