What a beautiful day and a beautiful graduation ceremony in Kenan Stadium on Sunday.

Congratulations to all involved in pulling off such an event – the planners, the marshalls, the speakers, the band, the Clef Hangars, concession workers, security workers, ushers and on and on…

And congratulations to all the graduates and their families.

And a big THANK YOU to my son Ryan for a fabulous Mothers Day.

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg, gave the “official” graduation speech and got down to business right away, yelling into the microphone “TAR”. His audience readily responded with an even louder “HEEL”. After three rounds of that, he explained that he chose to start that way because if he had started with”Rah Rah Carolina-lina, rah rah Carolina-lina, rah rah Carolina-lina” he knew that…

And he was right. Before he could even finish the last “lina”, there was a thunderous “GO TO HELL DUKE” from the Carolina blue clad end zone.

Mayor Bloomberg said he wanted his speech to be different from any other and so had decided to ‘Slow Jam the Commencement Address’ but couldn’t convince Bradford Marsalis to do it with him. (An inside joke referring to Barack Obama’s Slow Jam while on campus a few weeks ago.)

Still determined to make his speech memorable, he said he ” did a lot of research to put me fully into the UNC groove”. That morning he had climbed the bell tower, sat on the Davie Poplar Bench, drank out of the Old Well and managed not to trip on bricks. Plus he had challenged Chancellor Thorp to a Rubik’s Cube contest, joined a Flash Rave at the Library and “watched – but did not join – a group of streakers run across the Pit into the UL and then sing the alma mater”.

Bloomberg spoke of light and liberty – celebrating progress of the past,  yet setting the bar higher for the future.  Identifying gaps to be closed.  Urging graduates to use their gifts and talents to make a positive difference in the world.

How could they do that?  Bloomberg said graduates simply needed to remember a few things they had already learned by watching Carolina basketball.

Using basketball language, he went through typical graduation tips like get to work early, stay late, support and assist your teammates, help others, out hustle the competition, know that you must occasionally use your elbows, take risks, follow your heart, go with your gut and love what you do. All really great stuff. As he spoke about each tip, sharing personal stories and famous quotes to support each one, I began to wonder how in the world anyone would be able to remember these words of wisdom.

He soon summarized his tips “in no particular order.”

  • Teamwork is everything
  • Assist others
  • Risks are necessary

Here he stopped to say, “Hmm the first three letters of those words are T, A, R. I wonder where this is going. “

  • Hustle always
  • Elbows occasionally have to be used
  • Education is a lifelong journey
  • Love what you do

“And if you put that list together, it of course spells Tar – Heel”.

Click here to listen to this segment of speech

He had given the graduates 7 good tips. All good for good business as well.

In addition, he demonstrated several more good tips for good business, two of which I’ll share here.

  • Know your audience/customers. Read about them. Listen to them. Walk in their shoes. Or at least on the paths where their heels have trod.
  • Help people (employees, customers, prospects) remember your message…by using an acronym, a slogan, posters…anything to make your message stick. Like tar on heels.

The tenth tip – came during Bloomberg’s closing as he reminded graduates that things wouldn’t always be smooth and easy. And like all the others, his tip for tough times had to do with Tar heel memories.

“When the hard times come in your life – and they will, and when the doubts creep in about whether God is looking out for you, just remember that not only did you see an NCAA Basketball Championship during your time here, but in your senior year – Duke lost in the first round to a 15 seed.

“So you know there’s a God up there in that Carolina Blue Sky.”

Click here to listen to this segment.

10 good tips from Mayor Bloomberg.  Good for graduates. Good for business.

Walk in their heels. Stick like tar. TAR HEEL.  And when in doubt, remember Carolina blue skies.

Watch Bloomberg’s speech below.