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Highlights from Russell’s commencement speech at SCAD
Jun 9, 2014

In addition to receiving an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, Architectural Digest Editor in Chief Margaret Russell addressed the Savannah College of Art and Design’s (SCAD) 2014 graduating class during its 35th commencement ceremony last week.

“Margaret is the ultimate arbiter of design, and a role model to students throughout the SCAD community,” said Paula Wallace, SCAD president and co-founder.
Russell addressed the crowd of 1,560 would-be professionals with her “simple truths” for graduates and shared tips on how to impress their future bosses. Below are the takeaways from her speech as recapped by SCAD’s blogger Tarana Mayes:
Be early—I remain challenged by this, but I’m usually still the first person at the AD offices each morning. It’s better to consistently arrive early at work than to have to consistently stay late.
Be a troubleshooter and problem solver—These are key qualities that everyone in every industry looks for when hiring. Think ahead and always anticipate the unexpected.
Expect good and don’t gossip—Don’t ever write emails that might land you in trouble if read in public. Email should communicate facts, not emotion.
Be aware of the power of social media and never post a photo when it’s clear that you’ve had far too much fun—Your bosses are also on Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and they will find you. Try imagining that your social accounts have a pause button and take a breath before you hit send.

Embrace change as it’s the most constant aspect of your future—The happiest people around you are those who are flexible and adapt well.
Don’t be afraid to ask; ask for everything. Just never have a sense of entitlement when you do—Some of the best stories published in the magazines I’ve edited are there because I had the nerve to go after them.
Don’t be afraid, period—Life’s too short. Conquer your fears today.
Pay attention—Listen, stay focused, be ambitious, have common sense, show good judgment.
Do the right thing—You’ll never go wrong by doing what you truly believe is right.
Give back—I love AD, but the most rewarding work I do is philanthropic or political. Volunteer, develop your personal sense of social responsibility and integrate it into your daily life.
Think green—Please think green because your forebears did not. Use your genius to save our planet.
Feed your creativity. Get off your iPhone. Look up—Don’t passively email someone sitting a few feet from you in the office. Talk to each other, write thank you notes, read books.
Find your passion and your joy—I hire people who are passionate about their work. I’ve always been told that there’s no place for emotion at work, and indeed that’s true. But I know for sure that being passionate about what you do will drive you to far greater success.
“You are so well prepared to make your way and to change the world and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do,” concluded Russell. “Congratulations, class of 2014. We honor and admire you. Here’s to your brilliant future. Here’s to tomorrow.”

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