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Valerie Mosley speaking at commencement

Thank you, and good morning. What a joy and an honor to share this moment with you. I’m going to start this moment as I try to every moment: with gratitude and recognizing what went well. First, President Chrite, his wife Phyllis, the Board of Trustees, I thank you for inviting me to be your speaker and for bestowing me with this honor. Thank you.

I’d like to recognize the parents and the family members. Without your love and support, we wouldn’t be here celebrating your loved ones. I’d like to thank my family, who are here in person and virtually. That support is so incredibly important. I’d like to thank the Bentley employees. Be you the faculty member or the facility cleaner, the one who serves the food or who helps with admissions: Each of your roles have played an important part in making this university great.

And now to the fellow graduates: Congratulations, you did it! I, like your parents, am so proud of you. Your hard work, your work ethic and ultimately your beliefs got you here today. You are graduating from, as I’ve done my research, the fourth best undergraduate school for business. The second-best regional school. And the number one in managerial economics, in accounting, in business and in marketing. And the number one in career services. Well done! 

I was happy to learn also a little bit about you. That you don’t only care about doing well financially; you also want to do well and have an impact on the world. So, when I think of that, it sounds as if you want to be comprehensively wealthy. So what I thought I’d do today is to give you one last class. And this class will be a mini class. Call it Val Mosley’s master class on how you can design your comprehensively wealthy life, sustainably and generationally, where you can have that purpose that you want for yourself; that profit and that impact. And I’m going to do my best to bring to you everything that I’ve learned personally and professionally. So yes, I will bring some parallels between managing money that apply to managing life quite well, and running businesses well, in light of the history of this great university.

First, it’s all about you. I want to focus on you. The first part — and parents, this little class is free. It’s going to be quick, and it’s free. So the first section is the most important and that is you. You matter. When you’re in finance, there’s a concept that you must know your client. It’s called K.Y.C. I think that you should make sure that you know yourself really well. Not only know yourself, but honor what it is that you know. Why is this important? In my teaching, I’m going to give you the what, the why and the how. Why is this important? Because when you know yourself, you’re going to know when is it that your spirit sings. And just as importantly, when is it that it wilts. Because you create your benchmark, and your benchmark is, “What does success look like for you?” Not your mother, not your father, not your aunt or your loved ones, but what does success look like for you? Because you’re going to be making those decisions. As President Chrite mentioned earlier, it’s about the choice that you make. So honor what you know about you. 

It’s about the choice that you make. So honor what you know about you.

But I would extend that message from knowing yourself to loving yourself. This is one of the most important things you can do. We’re here in Mental Health Awareness Month. The extent to which you love yourself will make all the difference in the world. When I look out here, I see and am reminded of young birds ready to leave this institutional nest, this academic nest. And what you do in terms of the extent to which you love yourself, it will be the wind beneath your wings when you’re down as well as when you’re up. And not only should you love yourself daily, and what does that look like? Think about when you fall in love with someone, you’re going to be supportive of them, you’ll be encouraging, you’ll be kind. Are you going to criticize them or are you quick to show compassion? This will matter, because trust me when I tell you you’re going to be coming into places where outside of yourself, you’ll be challenged. But imagine if the most powerful energy in the world, which is love, surrounds and envelops you and helps you to fly to wherever you want to go.

You also want to know your worth. This, too, is extraordinarily important, because your worth is what you believe. Because even if you have the skills, even if you have the capability — if you don’t believe it, you will not try it. So how do you get that worth? One of the things I did at Wellington was chair the firm’s industry strategy group. We would look out at what are some really powerful trends. Ladies and gentlemen, young classmates of mine, there’s a huge trend around depression. And during COVID, it’s gone up over 30%. The second leading cause of death for kids that are ages 10-14, up to 35, is suicide. It’s remarkable. And at the end of the day, often that’s because they aren’t feeling worthy.

And so I want to say here today that your worth is not a function of only your success. And when you love yourself, you’re loving yourself without condition. Worth is not a function of your mistakes. You are not what happened to you, and you are not what you haven’t done yet. It’s what you believe and what you choose to do going forward. Part of this first lesson is to be still and to know. So what do you do in the silent moments? Science says that 80% of our thoughts are negative. So we have to be intentional with having more thoughts that are less negative. So part of the assignment that I give you in this class, you can do any time throughout life, you can do with a loved one, you can do with your family. And that is to make a list of how you take care of yourself. If you’re loving yourself, you’re going to value yourself. Make a list of what little things can you do that allows you to take care of yourself. What are things that when you do them, your spirit sings? Make a list, just like when you meet with your financial advisor, they will tell you that you need to have a reserve, a savings reserve. You need to have a reserve of things that you can tap into, so that when things are difficult, you will go to taking care of yourself because you know that you’re worthy. You know that you’re valuable.

You are not what happened to you, and you are not what you haven’t done yet.

The second lesson is around awareness. If you’re going to be a leader of any business, a leader of any effort, nonprofit or otherwise, you analyze your revenues minus expenses to get your net income. What are your assets minus your liabilities to get your net worth? What is your self-esteem minus your self-doubt to get to your self-worth? And when you’re becoming aware, I ask you to become aware without judgment of where you are. And specifically start with the things that get in the way. So you want to build your wealth? Let’s go to your liabilities. Take a look at the cost of your debt, and what does that debt cost in the annual percentage rate? For many of us, credit rates are quite high.

Seventy-five percent of young people leaving college mess up their credit within the first year. 75%. So let’s be mindful and aware of what it is that you need to spend money on, and what things cost. You also want to be mindful of these other liabilities that are extraordinarily expensive, like not believing and having self-doubt. Another really powerful one is shame. I don’t know if you’re ever done something that you aren’t really proud of. Sometimes you hide it. It’s costly. Inaction, like inflation, which is really high right now, both devalue your money or they’ll devalue you. So when you look and you name the things that get in your way, science says you separate that event and that activity from yourself. So write it down. What is it that gets in the way of what you want. What I’ve learned is that most of what you want is on the other side of fear. It’s on the other side of doubt, it’s on the other side of “I don’t know if I can.” And if we name it and start working on refinancing, let’s pivot our mindset and pivot our messaging. How do we go about doing that?

Note each day what went well and why. Science has said this is the most important number one tool and task you can do. Let’s write down every day what went well today and why. And subconsciously, you’ll be able to pay attention and see more of the positive and less of the negative. You’ll understand, “Yes, I had a choice in that matter. That’s why that went well, and tomorrow I can do the same thing.” And before you know it, it’s like the little baby birds, their wings are getting a little dry and you can start to get ready to fly. And you want to do something each day now that you are aware of your benchmark, you’re aware of what your goals are, it’s embedded in your benchmark. You’re also aware now of your liabilities, so you’re also aware of your gates. You know your goals and your gates. Now is the time to act in alignment with your values and your value.

President Chrite: ‘Create your own magic to stir the souls of others’

The third part of the class. How do you do that? Science has shown if you can visualize your future self, you’re more likely to do things today because you don’t want to disappoint that future self. So visualize what is it that your future self wants? And today do something that will make him or her quite proud in saying thank you to yourself. When you’re acting, you’re choosing. You want to increase those investments, and you want to increase the revenue that you have. And that increasing investing in assets is not just the real estate. It’s not only the stocks and the bonds, and you want to do that, because if you put away $160 a month, by the time you retire you’ll have over a million dollars. $40 a week. Surely you can maybe not have the extra meal or buy those shoes.

If you just invest it for you regularly because of the power of compounding interest, and many of you know this probably because you’re here, but most people don’t. You can become a millionaire much sooner than you think. And I would say that you not only want to compound interest, you want to compound self-love and self-care. So what investments do you make in your habits each day? What do you say to yourself in terms of your mindset each day? How do you reinforce what you know is good about you every day? And there are simple things. You can look at someone and you can smile. You can help somebody else out. There are simple asset-boosting, revenue-generating actions that you can take that will add to that comprehensive wealth.

The fourth section comes to probably the second most important class that I want to give you, and it is around drawdowns and rebounds. When you’re managing money, what comes with the territory is disappointment. The market is going to crash. Disappointments are going to happen. Just know that it comes, but the question is what do you do when that happens? When it’s painful, when somebody leaves you, when your parents do something, when your father does something, your mother, your sister, your loved one rejects you. Whatever the disappointment is, I am confident in telling you that there is opportunity in adversity. And you have to be able to see it. So when you’re managing money, yes the market crashes — the mirror image of that is the market’s on sale. Yes, you got fired from your job. The opposite of that is you can rethink and say maybe that wasn’t a fit for me. So when disappointment comes, what you see in the midst of that storm is magical because that is where the returns are the greatest. Just keep that in mind.

The fifth and final class. We started with this process with you, but I want to say that it’s not all about you, and to bring to your attention, because of the history of this institution and spirituality that like income, giving is so incredibly important. You will feel so much better if what you do matters. Not only to yourself, but also to others. When you get on the plane and people tell you to put on your oxygen mask, what they don’t tell you is that you have eight seconds, and if you don’t do that, you will not be in a position to help someone else. So yes, we might start with you, but what brings so much joy is knowing that what you’re doing matters for you and your family.

You will feel so much better if what you do matters. Not only to yourself, but also to others.

I love that fact that you care about making a difference in the world, because that matters to me. I told you that I’d also like to tell you the how and the why. The why for me is that I grew up in Philadelphia, and what’s not on my resume is that I didn’t always feel good about myself and I didn’t always love myself. I’m the youngest of four, and around the time of about 11, my mother’s stepfather started to constantly tell me how much he loved me. But then he would proceed to start to abuse me. So here’s the first man who says “I love you,” but I’m going to abuse you. And it was really hard. From the time I was 11 until I was 15, I hid that, and we were involved. But the hiding went on until I was 34 years old. I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. I told my mom, and I can tell you that those things that happened that are out of your control, that disappointment, it hurts. And it questions your worth, because it makes you feel like you’re a bad person, and you aren’t.

I started off with this discussion about the power of love. It’s unconditional, and the importance of knowing that you’re worthy: regardless of what happens, you aren’t what happened to you. So when I started to fall in love with who I am, as I am, imperfections and all, then I blossomed. My wings started to grow, and I could make choices because I started to believe that things were possible. And that’s why I want to leave you with this notion that you young, strong beautiful birds can fly as high as you want to fly. This is why I want to encourage you today, always and forever to love yourself. That’s why fly is F.L.Y., forever love yourself. Because when you do that, the sky is truly the limit. 

You can be yourself. Think about hiding your hurt, and feeling less than. When you feel less than, you won’t try. And I learned that it doesn’t always start with you. My mother had a similar experience and I didn’t know that until she was sick with cancer. We started to talk, and I realized that she had those challenges, too. And so you are not what happened to you. Instead, you are what you believe you can be and what you repeatedly try and do. So if you have a goal and in between you and this goal are doubts, face those doubts.

How do you do that? Get an accountability partner and say, “Yes, I believe in you and I see you. This is possible.” And then each day, invest in those habits and compound that unconditional love, the actions that takes you toward those goals. Because it’s incredible. You aren’t the only one who has struggled or had a loss, and that’s why I decided that I’m devoting the rest of my life to making sure that people understand how they can build their self-worth and build their net-worth. It’s within reach. I don’t know what it is that you want to do, but I am confident that you can do it. You are capable. Fly, Class of 2022, fly.  

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