Sheryl Sandberg Opens Up About Her Husband In Graduation Speech
Sheryl Sandberg addressed the graduating class at Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing, China, on Saturday. According to TIME, she opened up about her husband who passed suddenly in May, and spoke more broadly about how others can learn from his example. Read some highlights from her commencement speech below.
"I am honored to be here today to address Dean Yingyi Qian, Tsinghua School of Economics and Management’s distinguished faculty, proud family members, supportive friends, and most importantly, the class of 2015. Unlike my boss, Mark Zuckerberg, I do not speak Chinese. For that, I apologize. But he did ask me to pass along this message – zhuhe. I am thrilled to be here to congratulate this magnificent class on your graduation."
Sanberg continued, "When Dean Qian invited me to speak today, I thought, come talk to a group of people way younger and cooler than I am? I can do that. I do that every day at Facebook, since Mark is 15 years younger than I am and many of our employees are more his contemporaries than mine. I like being surrounded by young people, except when they say to me, 'What was it like being at university without a mobile phone?' or worse, 'Sheryl, can you come here? We need to see what old people think of this feature.'"
She highlighted the importance of leadership.
"As graduates of Tsinghua, you will be leaders not just in China, but globally. China is a world leader in terms of educational attainment and economic growth. It is not just political and business leaders that recognize the importance of China. Many American parents realize it as well; the hardest schools to get into in the San Francisco Bay area where I live are those that teach Chinese. But the fact is countries don't lead: People lead."
Mid-way through her speech, she reflected back on her late husband.
"No one won more hearts than my beloved husband Dave Goldberg who passed away suddenly two months ago. Dave was a truly inspiring leader. He was kind. He was generous. He was thoughtful. He raised the level of performance of everyone around him. He did it as CEO of SurveyMonkey, an amazing company that he helped build. He did it for me and for our children. A friend of ours named Bill Gurley, a leading venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, wrote a post where he urged others to 'Be Like Dave,' Bill wrote, 'Dave showed us all exactly what being a great human being looks like… But it was never frustrating because Dave's greatness was not competitive or threatening, it was gentle, inspirational, and egoless. He was the quintessential standard for the notion of leading by example.'"
Finally, she closed her speech by talking about the gender leadership gap.
"As the Chinese proverb holds – 'women hold up half the sky.' This is quoted all over the world and women have a special role in China's history and present. When the world has gathered to discuss the status and advancement of women, we've done it here in Beijing. In 1995, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – which called for women's full and equal participation in life and decision-making – was adopted by 189 governments. Last year, on the 20th anniversary of that historic declaration, leaders again gathered here to mobilize around what has become known as the promise of Beijing: equality for women and men."
And in closing, she said, "Today is a day of celebration. A day to celebrate your accomplishments, the hard work that brought you to this moment. This is a day of gratitude. A day to thank the people who helped you get here – the people who nurtured you, taught you, cheered you on and dried your tears. Today is a day of reflection. A day to think about what kind of leader you want to be. I believe that you are the future leaders, not only of China but of the world. And for each of you, I wish four things: 1. That you are bold and have good fortune. Fortune favors the bold; 2. That you give and get the feedback you need. Feedback is a gift; 3. That you empower everyone. Nothing is somebody else’s problem; 4. That you support equality. Lean In! Congratulations!"
Check out more great words of wisdom from MAKERS giving graduation speeches in the video below.