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I was at a graduation today and the person beside me was telling me about a recent speech she heard by Rich DeVos. I could not find it online, but I did find this commencement speech at a local university.

Michael Lloyd

GVSU Commencement Speech

April 25, 2009


(There is a) need in the market place for the
motivated, the creative and the educated. It means you walk out of here
into a new world –one that is still being defined. Still unsettled. Still
potent for pioneers. That’s not scary! It’s exciting!
I am not suggesting that it will be easy to pay off those student loans or
that you don't have to worry about finding that first job. Just be
confident and know that you will. Yes, the national unemployment rate
last month was over 8 percent. But, the rate for those with college
degrees was 4 percent. In other words, 96 percent of college graduates
found work! There have always been economic downturns. Let me
repeat that. There have always been economic downturns. Some are
broader than others. Some occur in particular fields. But evidence of
success, hope and opportunity is out there, actually right outside this
arena – the VanAndel Arena. So close you can almost touch it. Just
down the street is the shiny tower of the Grand Plaza Hotel. The Amway
Grand Plaza Hotel. To me, the mirror-like windows on that tower reflect
nothing but optimism.
Rich DeVos and the late Jay VanAndel were high school buddies. They
started a charter boat business and failed. They started an air service.
That failed. Then they came up with the idea of a direct-to-the-home
sales plan for soap products. The Amway distributor system was born.
In 30 years, Rich DeVos and Jay VanAndel went from empty pockets to
be among the very richest in the world. In the Top 50 out of a world
population of 6 billion. Calling that “successful” is an understatement like
saying Simon Cowell is kind of blunt. Or college is “kind of” expensive. I
won't dwell on their story of perseverance and optimism, other than to
remind you that they didn't start out with inherited wealth. They had no
insider connections. And they didn’t have college degrees. Theirs is not
the only success story I want to share with you.


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