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Six Bits of Wisdom for a Successful Business Career

May 21, 2013

As students celebrated the culmination of their business education, Carlson School commencement speakers offered their best advice for the future ahead.

Entrepreneur and alumnus Peter McCormick has twice crossed the stage to accept a Carlson School degree - a BSB, followed by an MBA. The Wisconsin native is best known as the co-founder and senior vice president of ExactTarget, a cross-channel interactive marketing software company. The start-up became one of the largest Software as a Service (SaaS) initial public offerings in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. Today, ExactTarget operates in four continents and employs nearly 2,000 people.

As a Carlson School undergrad, McCormick met his future business partners, scored an all-important first job, and discovered how to excel in business. He returned to the school to complete an MBA in 1999.

Looking out from the podium as keynote commencement speaker, McCormick offered three tips to the hundreds of students who celebrated their graduation this spring:

Be the most energetic and enthusiastic person in the room: The most experienced and talented business leaders don't always know the most. But the best minds in business convey energy and enthusiasm at every turn.

"Enthusiasm and energy will set you apart, because there will always be someone more experienced than you."

Ride the big waves: Look for business opportunities the same way you choose a stock. Seek out assignments, jobs, and ventures that hold potential for growth, and ride the wave.

"Identify huge shifts in the economy, and run to those big waves."

Start a business: Launching a business has become easier, cheaper, and faster than ever - and is the best way to continue your business education.

"Starting a business is the only way to land a job that you're not remotely qualified to obtain through an interview. Who in their right mind would have hired me to run product development at a fast-growing software company, without an engineering background?"

McCormick also reminded grads to take advantage of the network they've built as students, and to thank the supporting cast that made their business education possible.

More commencement wisdom
"Work hard, have fun with your lives, and stay connected with the school. Carlson School alumni are 50,000 strong and working in cities around the world." - Craig Seitel, President, Carlson School Alumni Board

"If you ever find yourself as the smartest person in the room, get out, and find a bigger room." - Kendell Beckstrom Poch, '13 MBA, graduate student speaker

"Passion comes as a side effect of mastery. Find the intersection of what you love, what you're good at, and what you can be paid to do." - Vallari Ajgaonkar, '13 BSB, undergraduate student speaker

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