Julian Brass’ Speech at the U of G President’s Welcome

* Grammer is unedited. A great public speaker never writes his speech verbatim. Rather, these rough lines are the basis of my speaking points. 

Good afternoon, President, VPs, Deans and Associate Deans, Distinguished Professors, Alumni, and, of course, students!

First of all I want to congratulate all of you for having come this far thus far in your life!  How about a round of applause for yourself? Let’s go … !!!

It’s a honour to be up here … and a privilege to be back at the University of Guelph once again. To be honest, as a student, I never expected to be up here giving advice and welcoming you all to one of the best universities in Canada. This is an incredible place. Go on about it … where you will learn, grow, experience, and take a major step toward building your incredible future. I am so excited for all of you.

I’m going to talk to you about my story and then How to make the most out of your time here at U of G and also about how to set yourself up for success upon graduation. Throughout the few minutes that I have with you I am going to try and bring back my points to my own personal experiences as much as possible so that I leave you with as much real-world context. Would you find value in that? Okay great, but take notes, video tape this, do whatever you need to do so that you have this to help guide you over the coming years. I’m here for you, so let’s make this impactful!

Tell them a bit about myself …

I graduated in 2006. Had proactively worked and interviewed to find a job in South Florida, and set up everything so that within 1 week of writing my last final exam I was on route to my exciting first job out of University.

About 1 year later I decided that I wanted to take a different career path which lead me back to Canada and then shortly after back down to the US, this time to San Francisco and Silicon Valley working for a new webstart up that was started by some of the world’s most successful internet professionals.


Around 2 years later I decided that my time had come and that I wanted to start my own business and that ultimately I wanted to be back home in our incredible country. So I made the move back. Yes I was scared and unsure of what the future would hold, just like a lot of you might be feeling today … but I trusted in myself and that anything is possible with enough work and perseverance. I was right. My business Notable.ca has become the largest website in Canada for young professionals. We continue to grow, have an incredible team in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary, some of the best brands as clients, and I am constantly learning, growing, and being challenged. What else could anyone want?

That said I am going to jump in to a speech I have written exclusively for you the incoming class of 2012: Top 4 Tips For Success Both in University and in Life:

1. Build and Perfect Your Value System

– Your value system is the basis from which decisions are made, subconsciously or consciously this is what drives you.

– You’re here today because you put an importance on education and self-improvement, or because someone in your life does, and you put importance on making that person happy. Which is totally fine!  A lot of us were in that situation.

– Value system could be on wealth, on happiness, on both wealth and happiness, on doing something you love, on changing the world, etc.

– I encourage you to create your VS and to understand that it’s a work of art, something you will always go back to and ask does this decision match up with it. Ultimately your VS is what will keep you going when times are tough. And IF YOU include in your value system things like: dedication to education, to building lasting and loving relationships, caring for your health, and being successful NOTHING will STAND IN YOUR WAY, and throughout all of life’s curve balls you will find the strength inside of you to persevere.

2. Be Strategic

– who are you hanging out with?

– interning/volunteeri

* talk about my summers

– Your course selection

Remember that knowing about general business practices, leadership, and entrepreneurship will add a whole other layer to what will be your impressive educational experience. As a CME Grad I can wholeheartedly say it’s worth looking into picking up a few of their courses or their unique certificate program regardless of what your major is in.

– Develop the skills you need for the real world

– Example – Public speaking and presentations

– Get to know your profs

They can became a massive mentor throughout your years and I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in touch with a few of my profs

– When you’re not sure ask yourself “when I look back on this situation or challenge, what decision I will be most proud of myself for making” and let that be the driving force that guides you …


3. Stay Hungry (Tips For Success Both in University and in Life)

– Trust in Something. Trust in faith, in your perseverance, have trust in yourself, or in the basic principal that hard work pays off and it always will.

– Push Yourself to learn something new each month. Be hungry for knowledge. Your required readings are only part of the learning experience at university! They are only a part of building the ultimate package that you can and will become. You must not only grow academically, but also outside of class. Join clubs, organizations, cultivate your character, and develop an appetite for constant learning and growing.

– Compete with yourself not your classmates. Strive to be your personal best and you will find yourself in a situation others find envious. Remember if you stay hungry to be better every day … you will be.

– You won’t be here for ever – start working on your legacy today!

4. Find balance

– have fun but don’t overdo it

Work hard and play hard (don’t become consumed in either direction, Stay balanced and stay grounded.

– Exercise (aside from the health benefits, many of the worlds most successful people swear by regular exercise because it keeps them grounded and acts as a form of meditation when external pressures are high)

– find your ME TIME


Ultimately, University is a Stepping Stone For the Rest of Your Life so own the experience.

University is What Your Make of It. So wake up determined to make the most of it each and every day. Take daily action and you will be successful.

Focus on these 4 tips for success both at university and in life:

1. Work on your Value System

2. Be Strategic

3. Stay Hungry

4. Find Balance

And you will look back at your time at the University of Guelph and know that you really lived it. You have opportunity to have one of the best journeys of your lifetime, it’s up to you to make it happen. So, ladies and gentlemen, if you are ready to make it happen let me hear you, NO ACTUALLY LET THE ENTIRE CITY OF GUELPH HEAR YOU!