The Class of 2017 along with Faculty, Staff, families, and friends gathered in the large white tent on Friday, June 2, prepared for a Commencement address interspersed with comments about perseverance, success, and rapid changes in our digital world. Given that the Commencement Speaker was Gary Briggs, an alumnus of the King Class of 1980 and currently the Chief Marketing Officer of Facebook, that assumption made perfect sense. Instead, they were treated to a love story. "The fact is, in my experience in my own life and my observations of others, success does not rest on the right career and work/life balance. It rests on something we don't talk that much about. Love. Who you choose to love as your companion in life and whom you choose to love you back. Who is going to love you not just for whom you are but grow with you to be the person you will become? It is the decisions you make about love that are the foundation of everything else," said Mr. Briggs.
As printed in the Stamford Advocate:
"A fitting career and the right balance between work and personal life are two of the most important keys to success, Facebook's Gary Briggs said Friday. But based on his own experience and observation of others, success rests on something people rarely talk about.
The Stamford native, a vice president and global chief marketing officer for Facebook, told the graduating class at King School that love is the foundation of success.
"What I want you to consider is that you have so much ahead of you and have been so schooled in how to learn and head on the path to success," he told the 88 graduates Friday, 37 years after he was in one of their seats.
"If you put as much thought and consideration into who you love and who is to love you, then you have a higher chance of a wonderful, fulfilling livelihood and life," he said.
Briggs, who graduated from King in 1980, told the Class of 2017 during a commencement speech Friday that choosing the right partner is a crucial indicator of success.
"For me, the main reason I'm standing here is my wife and her love and belief in me," he said while fighting back his emotions.
Briggs has been working in Silicon Valley for 20 years. He joined Facebook in 2013 and previously worked at Google, eBay, PepsiCo, PayPal and others.
It was his first time giving a speech at his alma mater. The outdoor ceremony drew hundreds of family members and friends to the Newfield Avenue private school.
King's Class of 2017 includes 13 "lifers" — students who have been at King since elementary school or kindergarten.
This year's valedictorian was Nisha Chandra, an enthusiastic student who came to King from an international school in Zambia. She said she has no doubt her classmates will be successful.
"I know that these people up here are going to go wherever they want to go, and I don't know where that is," Chandra said, before turning her eyes to the group, "but I know that you guys are going to go wherever the heck you want to go."
Thomas Conheeney, president of King's board of trustees, urged students to be curious and take chances. While in college, he said, students should try new things, take courses outside their majors, consider studying abroad and find work that truly motivates them.
Briggs agreed. He told graduates to ask themselves what they are curious about and think of a way to turn that into a profession.
Besides choosing the right partner and the right career, Briggs asked students to be conscious of their work-life balance.
"How you work, what you do and how well you choose is up to you," he said. "The people I know who have the best balance make choices all the time and they don't let other people's priorities dominate their own."
No matter what career they choose, the Facebook executive said, King's graduates should stay away from labels.
"It's not enough to say I want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a banker or a marketer, for that matter," he said. "Those are labels and not fulfillment."