The speech that changed my life

The speech was by me. I was standing there giving the graduation address at the Law & Commerce Graduation in 2015 telling people to follow happiness. Afterward, I realised I wasn't even practicing what I was preaching! I turned down my graduate position at PwC and followed happiness. My next blog post will be about my new adventure, CEO of Indigo & Iris. 

Below is the speech, word for word. Hopefully, it inspires you too to follow happiness.


Law, Commerce & Arts Graduation Address - Thursday 17th 2015

Hannah Duder

I would like to acknowledge the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, University Council and most importantly the graduates, I am honored me to be here to speak on this special day. Hello to the friends and whanau of the graduates how exciting this must be for you too. The amount of work that goes into a degree... The hours of lectures and tutorials, the all nighters, the coffee consumed and the social sacrifices made to get that last 1000 words done... has all lead you here, to receive the recognition of all the hard work you have done. Congratulations you truly deserve it.

When Jeff Field our Registrar asked me to do this graduation address like any millennial I was straight on google. Wikipedia says that a Graduation Address is simply an opportunity to share your experience, values and advice. I have been fortunate to have had some extraordinary experiences and learn so many things from some incredible people which I am glad to be able to share with you today

Firstly: ‘Yolo’...’you only live once’.. ‘Live life to the fullest’......... ‘In the end, the only regrets are the chances we didn’t take’........ ‘You only get to do it once, so do it right’.

I don’t know about you but when I hear these life quotes they don’t inspire me they scare me.

I don’t know about you but when I hear these life quotes they don’t inspire me they scare me. There is a lot of pressure there to get it right. How do you make sure you live life to the fullest, or live it right? No one can really know the regrets they will have will have until they are there. So after talking with people from around the world about their experiences and achievements in life the thing that comes up the most often... is happiness. Happiness is Key.




Most of you are now at a point where you are going to be entering the ‘real world’ and for most this can be quite daunting. I think it is important for you all to ensure that you are following your own unique path not someone else's. Following your own dreams, not someone else's. This will guarantee your happiness.

When we look at what we want in life, what we dream of - most want to be successful.

But how do you define success? is it money? making it to the top position in a company? Being well traveled? There is the dream that is laid out for us by the generations before, laid out in movies and story books but it’s very important to ensure this is what YOU want and is what will make YOU happy. After talking to many different people from all over the world while attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi and speaking to young global leaders in Geneva - it was obvious to me that happiness is key. There were so many successful people to listen and learn from and when I heard all their stories they all started the same, with them finding their passion, what was going to make them happy and what would make them excited to get out of bed each day.

Success is subjective, it’s all about how you define it. You need to decide what success is to you? Is it the Batch Boat BMW, retiring and playing golf until you die? Do you want to help create a better world? Make a difference to others lives? Once you have decided that you should be able to see your path more clearly and what will make you happy’.  

It may seem obvious to you now, as you receive your degree, you will follow the path that your degree will take you- for example you have a Law Degree so you’re going to be a lawyer, you have an Accounting degree so you will be an accountant. But this is not the only option, of course, some of you will want to follow that path but it is important for you to know that you do not have to choose that. You need to find your own path you need to do what is going to make you happy.

If you can’t find a job out there that is your passion and will make you happy, then go out there and create it. Just the fact that you are sitting here today shows you have self-motivation, ambition, so now find the confidence you need to follow the path that you decide, the path that you want… the path that will make you happy.

If you don't know what makes you happy, or what you are passionate about, you won't find out by sitting at a desk working 9-5 without…. doing something different, talking to someone different, visiting somewhere different. Use your time to read more, learn more, and discover more. But be sure not to continue on doing something you don't love, that you don't get excited about when you wake up in the morning.

We are bound by the walls we create our self. Maybe I am young and naive to think like this, but if that’s true I see now it as being even more important to get out and start taking risks while we are still naïve and following happiness. If you are about to go down a path because you believe is the right one. The one everyone is expecting you to go down. Then you need to stop right now.

Claudia Batten talks about being the Biggest Brave Boldest version of our selves. If you have those things inside your head, little dreams that you have not quite admitted are there - just think I am sure they are there right now. You need to grab hold of them, start overcoming the fears and unknowns and reach for those goals. Make it happen. Start now, be big, be brave, be bold and start creating your own path.

So rather than letting those quotes scare us, they can remind us, that we must live our lives making sure we are following our own dreams, being successful, as we define it and doing what will make us happy.

Finally, I want to use this time to address the potential you all have to change the world. I urge you to all start helping nut out some of the social issues in the world. Remember to never doubt your ability to instigate change; I believe that the power of a small group of committed people is huge. Think Kate Shephard, Gandhi, throughout history we have watched such groups solve world issues, so there is no reason why you can’t either.

The one topic I ask you to think differently about is the role of women in society; sexism is real, and it’s out there. I think I was a little bit ignorant to this fact. While I was University, I was in a bubble and I felt as though it wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be. However entering this ‘real world’ I found many times where I was overlooked or underestimated because of my gender. This is still a problem and you can all help fight for gender equality. Firstly, women, we can be our own worst enemies, we need to first support each other, help dot each other i’s and cross each others t’s. We then need to help ourselves, by being confident in our abilities, putting ourselves out there and being more ambitious. Secondly, we all benefit socially, politically and economically from gender equality. When women are empowered, the whole world benefits. Only those economies who have full access to all their talent will remain competitive and will prosper. Gender equality frees not only women but also men, from prescribed social roles and gender stereotypes. So I ask you all to be aware of this, stand up when you can and help empower the women around you. Finally to all the women in the room, the best deterrent to sexism is awesomeness. So be awesome.

I realise, because I am trying to do this myself now, how hard it is to know now what will make you happy in 20 years, it’s hard to decide what success is to you right now when you’re young but I think the main thing is that each day you ensure you’re doing something that is your passion, is making you happy and will lead you to be successful in your own mind.

It has been a privilege to be here today and witness you all graduating. I wish you all the best for your future and hope you all follow your unique paths of happiness.  

Thank you.

Hannah Duder