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Life is good co-founders and CEO of Sovereign Bank Spread Optimism, Hope and Inspiration at Bentley University’s Commencement Ceremonies
Bentley graduates are armed with superpowers, thanks to Bert and John Jacobs, brothers and co-founders of the Boston-based Life is good (LIG) company. The dynamic duo addressed approximately 1,000 Bentley University undergraduate students at the 94th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18, 2013. Speaking to an estimated audience of 8,000, they shared some of their company’s core values, delivered in the optimistic “LIG style” that has become the trademark of their apparel and accessories, and iconic smiling stick figure, “Jake.”
“At our company we refer to our core values as the ‘Life is good Superpowers.’ These are superpowers accessible to all. And they can help you find fulfillment not just in your careers but in your lives,” John said of values that include creativity, courage, love, authenticity, gratitude and fun. It was a lively day filled with audience participation, as the brothers launched Life is good Frisbees into the audience throughout the address, each one representing a particular superpower.
Recalling the devastating events surrounding the Boston Marathon, Bert described the company’s response: a Boston t-shirt to benefit effected families. “Our hearts go out to the families of the three we lost… to those who were badly injured. But we felt it was our job to focus on what was right rather than what was wrong.” Citing first responders and people who came together, he added, “One act of hate is no match for millions of acts of love. Love is a superpower!”
John shared how LIG’s authenticity is felt by customers. “Anyone who thinks they’re going to build a business or brand alone is not paying attention … the customer has taken control … that can be a bad thing if people view you as artificial … they can tear your business down … if they view you as authentic, they will help you build your business up … Whatever you choose to do, choose a career that you can be authentically passionate about, something that’s an extension of who you really are … Above all else, to thine own self be true. Authenticity is a superpower!”
Bert explained how the company has taken to heart the stories from customers who have faced adversity. “We no longer say “have to” — ever. We never say “I have to go to a late meeting” or “I have to work late” … we “get to.” And it carries over into your life beyond your business. If you ever say you “have to” go grocery shopping you’re missing the point. You “get to” go grocery shopping. You “get to” do your laundry because you get to stand on two legs … Gratitude is a superpower!”
Bert and John concluded with a superpower that got people up on their feet: fun. They cued up the brass band and to the beat of the popular song “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore, belted out a song written especially for Bentley grads. “Tell us what you see, optimism’s key, it’s how to be, we guarantee, sing if you agree. We gonna let it fly …”
The Jacobs brothers each received an honorary doctor of commercial science degree at the ceremony.
GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
At the 38th annual commencement ceremony, Jorge Moran, Santander U.S. country head and president and CEO of Sovereign Bank, delivered the keynote address to graduate students at the Bentley University Graduate School of Business ceremony. He specifically shared lessons that have led him not only professionally, but on a personal level:
- Don’t be afraid of failing, leaving your comfort zone or facing your fears
- Don’t walk alone, don’t work alone, don’t dream alone
- Deliver on your commitments and honor your word
“A month ago the city of Boston was brutally hit by evil … But the city, the country, found enough strength to face that fear because courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to face it. That’s why Boston is so strong.”
Growing up in a city in Northern Spain with a dramatic history, he referenced Christopher Columbus’ entrepreneurial spirit. “…if you want to grow, both as a corporation and as a person, you can’t forget Columbus’ words: ‘You will never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to leave your own shore.’ And remember, you can’t reach the other shore if you are alone.”
Citing life’s ups and downs, Moran emphasized that accomplishments happen when people work together. “ … Not only have I needed help and support to succeed, I also needed it when I failed. Sharing the root of a failure is the first step to succeed.”
It’s what has helped his team at Sovereign Santander overcome a very challenging economic environment. “ … they did it because they worked together. And in some ways, they – we – dream together.”
Citing the Liverpool soccer team’s motto “you'll never walk alone,” he said: “It means you can count on us to help make your dreams, your ideas come true … Nothing is impossible if you team up with good and honest professionals … ”
The power of trust is something that guides Moran on a personal and professional level. “Trust is a priceless asset in good times and bad … If you spend your career and your life meaning what you say and honoring your word, I cannot guarantee you will get everything you want but I can promise you one thing – you will be successful. Because if you look at yourself in the mirror and trust the person you see, that is the definition of success.”
Moran received an honorary doctor of commercial science degree at the ceremony.
ABOUT THE GRADUATES
At the undergraduate ceremony, 1,048 bachelor of science degrees, 15 bachelor of arts degrees and five certificates in Accountancy were awarded to 1,068 students. (Figures include degrees and certificates conferred on October 26, 2012; March 1, 2013, and May 18, 2013.)
At the Graduate School of Business Ceremony, 12 doctoral degrees, 437 master of science degrees, 178 master of business administration degrees, 13 dual MS/MBA degrees, and 94 certificates were granted to 638 graduate students. (Students may earn multiple degrees and certificates so may be counted more than once. Figures include degrees and certificates conferred on October 26, 2012; March 1, 2013, and May 18, 2013.)
FACULTY AND STUDENT AWARDS
The Gregory H. Adamian Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Steven J. J. Weisman, senior lecturer in law, taxation and financial planning. The Bentley University Award for Excellence in Scholarship was presented to Gesa E. Kirsch, professor of English and media studies. The Joseph M. Cronin Award for Excellence in Academic Advising was given to David Szymanski, assistant professor of natural and applied sciences.
Student honorees included Jennifer Berkley, winner of the Professor Robert J. Weafer Award for Undergraduate Academic Excellence. The Professor E. William Dandes Award for Graduate Academic Excellence went to William Donlan and Lauren Hatchouel. This year’s Outstanding Evening Scholar is Dmitry Dukhon.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Bert and John Jacobs
Bert and John Jacobs are co-founders and Chief Executive Optimist and Chief Creative Optimist, respectively, of The Life is good Company. Jake, Life is good’s iconic hero with the contagious smile, teaches men, women and kids that optimism is fun, healthy, and empowering.
In 1989 the Jacobs brothers designed their first T-shirts. They began selling their designs on the streets of Boston out of an old van at colleges and fairs along the East Coast of the United States. In 1994, following a not-so-successful road trip and a combined sum of just $78 in the bank, they returned to Boston, unsure of the future of their business. After gathering friends at their apartment to share stories and ask for comments on their new drawings and sayings, one image received considerable favorable attention: the beret-wearing, smiling stick figure and the phrase "Life is good." The brothers named the character Jake and printed up 48 shirts. At a street fair in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the shirts sold out in less than an hour. They began to sell shirts and hats featuring Jake in local stores and the demand for the merchandise grew quickly, as did national recognition of the brand.
Life is good expanded its product lines from T-shirts and caps into a lifestyle brand that features optimistic apparel and accessories focused on positive messages and emphasizing simplicity, humor and humility. Today, Life is good products are sold by over 3,500 retailers nationwide, 6 company-owned stores and on lifeisgood.com. The innovative company focuses on forging meaningful, emotional connections, and relies heavily on its community of Optimists to help spread the power of optimism.
Life is good also holds an annual two-day celebration of music and optimism, The Life is good Festival, which raises money for kids in need. The Festival features three stages of nationally-known musical talent, hands-on games and interactive arts activities. More importantly, the Festival is a one-of-a-kind fundraiser for The Life is good Kids Foundation and creates a community of fundraisers. The Life is good Kids Foundation receives 100 percent of the funds raised at the Life is good Festival.
After graduating from Villanova University in 1987 with a degree in Communications, Bert worked as a ski instructor, pizza delivery man, and substitute teacher. John graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1990 with dual degrees in English and Art. He began designing and selling T-shirts after college and also worked as a substitute teacher to supplement his income during Life is good’s infancy. Bert and John are the youngest of six siblings from Needham, Massachusetts and they credit their mother with teaching them to face the bumps in the road with a smile. The Jacobs brothers see simplicity, humility and a sense of humor as the three keys to Life is good’s continued success.
Jorge Moran has been Santander’s US country head since February 2011 and president and chief executive officer of Sovereign Bank since December 2010. He joined Santander Group in 2002 as head of Asset Management. He has also served as head of Santander's Global Asset Management and Insurance Division, as senior executive vice president and head of the Global Insurance Division at Banco Santander, S.A., and as chief operating officer of Santander UK plc.
Before joining Santander, Moran was chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley for Spain and Portugal, and a partner of AB Asesores, a brokerage and asset management company. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business from ICADE.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Further details on Commencement 2013 can be found on the Bentley University commencement web site at: http://commencement.bentley.edu/
BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit www.bentley.edu.
Bentley University’s Co-Provost and Dean of Arts and Sciences Daniel Everett talked with us recently about a wide range of topics, including being featured in a new book by Tom Wolfe, two of his own upcoming books, the importance of studying the origins of language, and the value of a fusion approach to business education.