Reid Hoffman’s Commencement Address At Babson College

Building great companies and products is essential. Every professional having the tool set to navigate the rapidly evolving jungle gym is critical. But we also need entrepreneurial toolkits in government, ngos, and how we think about the relationship between society, institutions, and people. And we should think about innovation using technology – which is what entrepreneurs specialize in.

For example, government aims to enable a platform that empowers its citizens to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Consider if we had free online platforms for vocational skills, basic entrepreneurship classes, and key modern skills like deploying various technologies. Why free? Free because we want to empower everyone who wants to try with these basic toolkits. Then we would further empower each individual to make their own contribution. Consider if we had the online equivalent of driver’s licenses – how many more services entrepreneurs could build online. And these are just two specific examples.

Entrepreneurs are leaders. They lead in creating new products and companies, by crossing into the ground of the unknown. As the world changes, everyone will need these skills for their individual lives. But, now it means even more: we need entrepreneurial leadership in the evolving the platform of society that we share. So, entrepreneurs need to and can go further. We need to elaborate our entrepreneurial skills also to the evolution of society.

Here we are in a country with a great history of entrepreneurs. And here we are in an institution that focuses on these critical skills.

So what does this mean for you, graduating class of Babson 2012? As you go forth from this day, remember that you are leaders and pioneers. In creating new businesses, you are helping society evolve. In sharing what you know as entrepreneurs with others, you help them adapt to the modern world. Most of all, when you have the opportunity, remember to help rebuild our social platform – the framework where we all operate. Better platforms lead to much better entrepreneurial businesses.

Because if there’s one thing that entrepreneurs know, it is that an individual can change the world. And change the world at scale, when you engage your networks for magnified results.

Class of 2012: congratulations! You have just shipped your next product – you! – into the world. Now it’s time for your next play. Good luck.

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