First of all, I want to address today’s graduating students. From our correspondence, you know how deeply I value your work, your concentration, and your perseverance. I sincerely congratulate you for your remarkable success.
Aaah, the Parents … Who can understand you without having experienced what you have been through: hard work, patience, constant uncertainty, anxiety, sorrow, encouragement, advice (which they sometimes took, and sometimes didn’t), constant support and unconditional love. Today is equally your day. From the depths of a parent’s heart, I congratulate you.
And now, forgive me, this is the end of the congratulations. Now, a word to the graduates and to all of us, a word no one will like, because it is about sweat, incredibly hard work, and endless tenacity.
I would like us to ask ourselves three questions:
- What’s an active reader?
- What is a skilled, effective advocate?
- What is 10 hours?
My first request to you is to read three books. Only three. The first one: “I climb into the tank again,” by Oksana Zabuzhko. This book is the best description I’ve found of the workings of the information war, the war which is the signal characteristic of our era. Not only in Ukraine, but in the whole world. Without understanding how it works, we will not know what to look for and how best to act. But, if we do understand it, we can achieve a lot. We can even win. And, as a bonus, we get to spend several hours with the thoughts of a Nobel-caliber writer.
The second book? Who knows Yuri Shevelov? He died in 2002. World-class linguist, philologist. Lover of the word. He wrote wonderfully about our literature, art, theater, society. He wrote about us. Beautiful, subtle, expressive language. His work is a secret weapon of Ukrainian prose. He is an unknown star of the Ukrainian spirit. Let’s rediscover him. Please read his book – The Second Round … Start with the article on the Fourth Kharkiv. When you read how the government, through the media, poured artificial, manufactured feelings and emotions into the emptied souls of Kharkiv’s youth, ask yourself:
- Is Shevelov writing about Kharkiv of the 40s?
- About today’s America?
- Or about why UCU is so desperately needed?
And the third book? We’ll return to it, I promise.
What’s an active reader? It’s a person who reads, challenges themself with questions, discusses the book with friends, recommends it to others, and who is able to ignite the imagination of others. An active reader reads one high-quality Ukrainian book every month, and in a few months, they almost physically feel the wires in the brain connecting differently, as the brain rewires itself for greater staying power. They feel, even in the era of the Internet, the rebuilding of attention span. What a powerful advantage in the era of constantly contracting attention span. An active reader goes to the bookstore and buys Ukrainian books even after reading Zhadan, Zabuzhko, Andrukhovych, Matios, Prokhasko, Rozdobudko, Luko Dashvar, Hrytsak, or Marinovich on the internet.
We need one million active readers of the Ukrainian word. It will not hurt to have even two million around the world. Because the Ukrainian word does not care whether it is read in Lviv, Luhansk, or London, Donetsk or Detroit, Boston or Beijing, Toronto or Tel Aviv … Two million is a meaningful number. Significant. Strategic. Let’s start with ourselves. If we develop such a large audience of active readers, let’s think about the consequences:
- This will attract, magnetize young people of genius (some of them are sitting here, among us today) to write Ukrainian books in all genres. A large audience = a powerful magnet for the best
- Every year, there will be dozens of brilliant translations of outstanding Ukrainian books. They will give the readers of the world, the leaders of the world direct, unfiltered access to Ukraine, in its true form, distorted by no
Ukrainian literature will become a cool literature, and everyone will want to read it, as happened with the authors of South America in the 1970s. The world market is open. It awaits us. It wants to hear what we have to say.
And now 30 seconds on strategy. What is asymmetric competition? This is when a small competitor overcomes a giant. When a small contribution gives a giant result. This is the story of David. This is David’s sling.
In order to develop this audience, using the mechanism of word of mouth, how much capital is needed? Zero.
And what is the informational, awareness-creating value of such a continuous, large-scale flow to the West and the East? Tens, no, hundreds of millions of dollars. Becoming an active reader is a secret weapon for you, for the development of your career, and for the development of your, no, our community. This approach is a real example of an asymmetric victory, asymmetric creation of value. A modest contribution – a gigantic result. This is David’s sling. Let’s use it.
And the third book? We’ll return to it shortly.
What is a skilled, effective advocate? It’s someone who can knowledgeably inform others, stimulate their thinking, present them the new and unknown, who can spark their imagination. Do you know such people? Become one of them. Those people move the world. They are able to talk about, to assert themselves. Are we able to talk about ourselves?
Talk about what, you say?
- Talk about a great Ukrainian book, to family, friends in Lviv, Ukraine, Europe, North America. In the world.
- Talk about the Ukrainian university, our university. How many active investors does UCU have? About 3,000. And how many investors and advocates does UCU need to fulfill its historic mission? 100,000? A million? Let’s think about that, think hard about it. And act.
Who should tell the world about UCU, starting from Lviv and Kiev, and ending in Shanghai and Beijing? The UCU Development Department? Metropolitan Boris Gudziak? Or each one of us? No, it’s not easy. You need to want to do this and to be able to do it. It’s not in our nature to talk about ourselves. Nevertheless, each of us, without exception, can cultivate within ourselves, can develop within ourselves the skill, the craft, the art to be an inspired, enthusiastic representative. It requires hard work, hundreds of conversations, and tenacity. But not capital. So let’s learn to do it and teach others to do so.
If only a few people talk about UCU in an informed and compelling fashion, our future is shaky and insecure. If everyone learns to speak about UCU: student and employee; professor and graduate; a family member and donor, we are unbeatable.
Who here has family in North America? Tell them. In Europe? Tell them.
In Ukraine? Tell them.
In China? Tell them.
Word of mouth – this is the method used by every successful startup. Why? Because startups do not have capital. And do not forget that as a university we are a sprout, a shoot, we are a startup. And we are also a startup as a country. A country with a golden, deeply spiritual history, but a country that is beginning to rebuild itself, rebuild its future, a very different future.
Now I’ll tell you why I need one million active readers and one million inspired advocates. At the end of the course on asymmetric competition, I confront the students with an unexpected question: “Name the most important moral leaders of the twentieth century.” Not political, not economic, not cultural, but moral. A tough question. It is much easier to enumerate the villains in a century overpopulated by them. But moral leaders? Harder. Among the moral authorities of the century, Gandhi appears on everyone’s list. So does Mandela. But then …?
Then I ask: “Has anyone heard of Andrey Sheptytsky?” Everyone raises their hand. And the next question: “Who understands Sheptytsky, his economic thinking and actions? Interfaith thinking and actions? Political thinking and actions?” No one raises their hand. (Honest students – you see, Kyr Andrey already has an effect on our behavior.)
The third book? Please read Myroslav Marinovich’s book about Sheptytsky. Twice. Enter into a conversation with Kyr Andrey. No matter how many friends you have on Facebook, he will become your best friend: calm, thoughtful, generous, helpful, good-natured, pragmatic.
You will feel that this person really and genuinely appreciates and loves you. He will teach you to love others.
We talked about how to teach yourself to be a skillful representative of the Ukrainian book and the Ukrainian university, our UCU. I invite you – and not just students – but you, me, all of us, to become inspired representatives of Kyr Andrey.
Why? Everyone in the world knows Gandhi. Everyone in the world knows Mandela. No one knows Kyr Andrey. Today, thanks to Mr. Myroslav Marinovich, there is an opportunity to bring Kyr Andrey into the consciousness of the world.
But there is a matter of time. Let’s do it not in three decades, but in three years. Why? Because the world – not only Ukrainian-speaking – but the whole world, like a parched wanderer in the desert, needs the example, and the thinking, and the actions of Kyr Andrey even more, and more urgently, than it did a hundred years ago.
Again, we have before us, an example of asymmetric value creation. With a small contribution, without capital, we can achieve not only the great, but also the impossible.
Allow me, if you will, a brief word about Mr. Myroslav. Please read his story: “A universe behind the barbed wire.” What will you encounter? In a nutshell:
- Deep spirituality
- Constant thought
- Release from prison
- Hard work
For me, Mr. Myroslav is a microcosm of the Ukrainian people.
What is an active reader? A talented, effective representative of the Ukrainian book, of the Ukrainian Catholic University, of Kyr Andrey?
I hope your answer to that question is: “I am!”
Ten additional hours. What is that? We are all investors, we invest in all kinds of things. We invest our time, our money, our attention, our passion. I invite you to invest an additional 10 hours a week in yourselves, in your work.
Why invest in yourself? To become the best in your discipline, your work, your business. This is a difficult challenge, but it has a profound rationale. Sun Tzu said, “Use the ordinary force to engage. Use the extraordinary force to win.”
Sun Tzu spoke about the army. I’m talking about an individual, about a person who wants to develop, not partially but fully, their God-given talent.
Why work to be the best? Not for your ego. Don’t worry, your ego will take care of itself. Not for money, though you can be sure the money will find you. We do it to provide radically more value to those whom we serve: customers, clients, buyers, readers, parishioners, listeners.
What does UCU mean?
Let our work, our service be of the very highest quality, the very best in the whole world. Let’s invest those 10 extra hours per week in ourselves for the benefit of those we serve. When God gave you, and me, 100 points of talent, let’s execute at a 90 plus level, not at a 10% or 20% level.
We all know the parable of the buried talent. It should be repeated every Sunday in church. This is the story of our people. Buried, slaughtered, physically destroyed, forgotten talent.
I hope that in five years we do not speak about this parable, but live a new one – the parable of the fully developed talent. Zabuzhko wrote that each of us must work for four. When I researched the destruction of talent in the 1930s, I realized that this number is not random, but precisely calculated. Only fully developed talents will be able to achieve this.
As importantly, you yourself know that someone who has crossed the boundary line that separates a high-quality worker from a true master creates, delivers value 10 times greater than the average. Maybe 20 times. Maybe 30. Believe me, today’s world does not need more mediocrity. It needs true masters, inspired by the spirit of service, and constant self-improvement.
At first, you will think that 10 hours of additional work a week is a high price to pay. But, very soon, you will recognize that this is not a price, but the greatest pleasure. The true master of any craft loves their work. The search for mastery is a narrow, steep path, but it is 10 times more interesting than the broad, smooth highway of mediocrity. More interesting than television, movies, even the best story. Mastery – to be first, to be the best at what you do – that is David’s sling. Let’s put it to work. For the benefit of those whom we strive to serve.
I want to thank you. For your attention. For the fact that you have already started to do all the things I am talking about. Because I didn’t invent any of this. All these ideas come from observing the work that all of you gathered here have already been doing.
But most importantly – I thank you for what, in the next half century, you will achieve in the work you do. I thank you that you will create a new history.
For history is not what people will talk about. History is what we, working together, will create. Create with our thinking, our faith and our actions. It’s a great time and a great opportunity to write a new chapter, a chapter of which our ancestors and our great grandchildren will be unreservedly proud.
Sources for Images
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Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine.
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https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/255569844; By White House Photograph Office, Clinton Administration – This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 2569290., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=389356.
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