Cardigan Mountain School

On June 3, 2017 U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was invited to give the commencement address for the Cardigan Mountain School, a New Hampshire boarding school for boys in grades six through nine attended by Roberts’ son. For today’s Selling Point post I am excerpting the key comments made during this address, comments I feel are also perfect for new salespeople, possibly those just “graduating” from their company’s “initial sales school”, as they head back home to get started in their new position. Following, in quotes, are Roberts’s words.

“Typically commencement speakers will wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why.

From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.

I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty.

Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted.

I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.

And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship.

I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.

Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.

Now some tips as you get ready to go to your new school. You are all privileged young men. And if you weren’t privileged when you came here, you are privileged now because you have been here. My advice is don’t act like it.

When you get to your new school, walk up and introduce yourself to the person who is raking the leaves, shoveling the snow or emptying the trash. Learn their name and call them by their name during your time at the school. Another piece of advice: When you pass by people you don’t recognize on the walks, smile, look them in the eye and say hello. The worst thing that will happen is that you will become known as the young man who smiles and says hello, and that is not a bad thing to start with. You’ve been at a school with just boys. Most of you will be going to a school with girls… I have no advice for you.

Thank YouThe last bit of advice I’ll give you is very simple, but I think it could make a big difference in your life. Once a week, you should write a note to someone. Not an email. A note on a piece of paper. It will take you exactly 10 minutes. Talk to an adult, let them tell you what a stamp is. You can put the stamp on the envelope. Again, 10 minutes, once a week. I will help you right now by dictating for you the first note you should write. It will say:

‘Dear [fill in the name of a teacher at Cardigan Mountain School]. I have started at this new school. We are reading [blank] in English. Football or soccer practice is hard, but I’m enjoying it. Thank you for teaching me.’

Put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and send it. It will mean a great deal to people who, for reasons most of us cannot contemplate, have dedicated themselves to teaching middle school boys. As I said, that will take you exactly 10 minutes a week. By the end of the school year, you will have sent notes to 40 people. Forty people will feel a little more special because you did, and they will think you are very special because of what you did. No one else is going to carry that dividend during your time at school.”

I (Doug) hope you see the relevance of the advice Chief Justice Roberts gave to those young men by mentally placing yourself in that audience and making application of his remarks to yourself. If you are interested, the entire 12 minute address (Roberts begins his portion at the 5:40 mark) can be found with this YouTube link:

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