Dell urges graduates to get started in pursuit of their life’s work

May 19, 2003

AUSTIN, Texas— Michael S. Dell, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell, told graduating students at The University of Texas at Austin's 120th university-wide commencement Saturday (May 17) they are at the point of making a wonderful journey in life, but it is a journey that can only begin when they make a decision to embark.

"The unspoken requirement of a commencement is that you now must commence," Dell said. "There are countless contributions and achievements that never occurred, all due to a failure to begin."

Dell, who attended The University of Texas at Austin during the 1980s and who is a 1991 recipient of the Texas Exes Outstanding Young Texas Ex Award, founded the Dell company in 1984 with $1,000 and the idea of selling computer systems directly to customers. In 18 years, the company's sales have grown to $35.4 billion. Dell is the youngest chief executive officer ever to earn a ranking on the Fortune 500, and he is the longest tenured chief executive officer in the computer systems industry.

"You have an abundance of opportunities before you—but don't spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity … that you miss the right opportunity," Dell told the graduates. "Recognize that there will be failures … and acknowledge that there will be obstacles. But you will learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others … for there is very little learning in success."

Dell advised the graduates that passion should be the fire that drives their life's work as they journey forward after commencement.

"The key is to listen to your heart and let it carry you in the direction of your dreams," Dell said.

For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.