NEW YORK — Before picking up an honorary degree and a distinguished achievement award from LIM Thursday, Michael Gould offered graduates all sorts of career advice.
This story first appeared in the June 4, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Whether quoting Vince Lombardi or Michael Jordan, the chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale’s encouraged the crowd not to shy away from risk or to be afraid of failure.
Gould, who earned his bachelor of arts degree and MBA from Columbia University, recalled how Jordan once responded to a question about failure. “The NBA player said, ‘You know, I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my life. I’ve lost almost 300 games. And 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed,’ ” Gould said.
Throughout his commencement address at Alice Tully Hall, the Bloomingdale’s chief spoke enthusiastically about pursuing a career and life with gusto. “In the 44-plus years, I’ve only had one job — briefly, for about three months in California — the rest of the time, I’ve had a passion,” he said, referring to his zeal for his career.
Gould also noted that when one of LIM’s graduates joins Bloomingdale’s in September, she will hear the same speech that has been given to newcomers for the past 21 years. “It says that pursuing your education does not stop. So when you come across this stage and get that diploma from LIM, it does not stop. One phase of your life stops and another phase starts,” Gould said. “So wherever you go, whatever institution you join, whatever you do in life, find that place that believes in educating their people and giving them an opportunity to grow as much as LIM has done,” Gould said. “As John Gardner said, ‘Life is an endless unfolding. And if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery and an endless unpredictable dialogue between our own potential and the life situations in which we find ourselves.’ And by potential, he meant the full range of one’s capacities for learning, for sensing, for wondering, for understanding, for loving and for aspiring.”
After telling a good-versus-evil story from Cherokee folklore, Gould emphasized the need to continue to feed the good. “I wish for the endless feeding at the trough, the hope and the passion, the dreams of learning, of constant renewal and the lifelong quest that all of us have to be more than we thought we could be.”
Vigorous as he was with his delivery, Gould seemed to have no shortage of advice. In closing, he said, “Robert Louis Stevenson said it best when he said, ‘Old or young, we are all on our last cruise, we’re on our last cruise.’ We want it to mean something.”
In addition to Gould, Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer received an honorary degree from LIM.