Commencement Speeches: The Best Of

Sheryl Sandberg at UC Berkeley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEl2WCyUpM0 Steve Jobs at Stanford University: John F. Kennedy at American University: J.K. Rowling at Harvard University: Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane University: Conan O’Brien at Dartmouth College: Oprah at Spellman College: Denzel Washington University of Pennsylvania:

GRADUATION: Greatest Quotes – Invocation & Advice and The Nature & Value of Education

INVOCATIONS AND ADVICE Now that you’re getting your degrees it’s a good time to set goals and devise a plan. You need a roadmap, but be prepared for unintended detours, confusing signs and closed roads. Don’t be afraid of change or unwilling to change. Enjoy the journey, wherever it takes you, because that’s your life. — Michael Josephson Put your future …

COMMENTARY 985.1: Making Lives

A few years ago I came across a video by a very dynamic speaker, a former middle school teacher named Taylor Mali. He is now what’s called a performance poet — someone who delivers poetry as singers deliver songs. The poem that caught my attention was “What Do I Make?” an articulate and aggressive response to a critic who was putting down teachers. …

COMMENTARY 984.4: Is It Really Only About Winning?

Long ago, I entered law school wanting to do good. I left more concerned with doing well. In an atmosphere dominated by raging competitive instincts, persuasive rationalizations, and real economic pressures, cynicism drowned out idealism. My notion of the legal system as a grand forum for the pursuit of truth and justice was reduced to the idea that, in the …

COMMENTARY 984.1: Changing Self-Limiting Beliefs and Bad Behavior

Shavonne, a third-grade teacher, was at the end of her rope with disciplinary problems, but she wasn’t enthusiastic when she was told that her school had adopted the CHARACTER COUNTS! program. Now she was expected to explicitly seek to instill and enhance in her students core ethical values like honesty, respect, and responsibility, and to help them develop positive social …

COMMENTARY 982.3: Doing Sports Right

When I was a kid playing sports, there were no clubs, travel teams, or private coaches. Except for summer baseball leagues, the primary place to play was high school. When I was in the 10th grade, I wanted to play basketball in the worst way. Unfortunately, given my size and talent, that’s how I played. But in those days, sports …

COMMENTARY 981.5: The Disease of Low Expectations

The serious damage done to our economy, social institutions, and personal relationships by widespread cheating and dishonesty is bad enough. But widespread acceptance of such behavior as inevitable threatens to make our future a lot worse. In effect, our culture is being infected by a disease: the disease of low expectations. The disease is manifested by the corrosive assumption that …

COMMENTARY 981.1: Getting Started

Chris’s parents were proud of him when he graduated from college. But it’s been six months and he hasn’t gotten a job yet. In fact, he hasn’t looked seriously. He has no idea what he wants to do and he’s thinking of grad school. He’s living at home with his parents and things are getting tense, especially with his father, …

COMMENTARY 980.4: Controlling the Weather

While teachers can have a lifelong effect on the way students think, psychologist Haim Ginott has focused on a more immediate aspect of impact: the creation of a positive or negative physical and emotional environment that can determine the quality of a child’s life. “I’ve come to a frightening conclusion,” he said. “I am the decisive element in the classroom. …

COMMENTARY 980.2: Family Values

Our values — the core beliefs that drive behavior — determine our character, our ethics and our potential. Thus, the most important thing we can do for our children is to stimulate them to develop positive values that will help them become wise, happy and good. This is no simple matter. The first step is to achieve greater clarity about …

COMMENTARY 979.3: What Do You Want to See More of and Less of?

Inspirational author and speaker Stephen Covey once said, “Start with the end in mind.” So whenever a company wants to launch an ethics initiative, we at Josephson Institute use a simple exercise: “Look at your organization today – its managers, line employees, and customers – and list behaviors and attitudes you’d like to see more of and less of.” We …

COMMENTARY 979.2: Learning and Believing

One of the marks of our species is our limitless capacity to learn. Sometimes we learn how to do something we’ve never done before. Sometimes we learn facts about the world, about other people, and about ourselves. These sorts of things make us smarter and more skillful. But what’s really important are the things that make us wiser, our learned …

Kids Like to Win; Adults Need to Win

Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you have to acknowledge the powerful cultural influence that sports have on our culture. The values of millions of participants and spectators are shaped by the values conveyed in sports, including our views of what is permissible and proper in the competitive pursuit of personal goals. Professional sports and even highly competitive intercollegiate …

COMMENTARY 977.2: Tell Someone They’re Valued

The students at Sandy’s high school were badly shaken by the news that a classmate had killed himself. The suicide note said, “It’s hard to live when nobody cares if you die.” Glen, a teacher, realized this was a teachable moment about the importance of making people feel valued. He asked the class to imagine they were about to die …

COMMENTARY 975.5: What Is Character?

Here’s a riddle: You can hardly ever find it anymore — especially in politics or business. Lots of schools don’t teach it anymore. We want more of it in our children and in all the adults who interact with them. We want it from our bosses and the people who fix our cars. And most of us believe we have …

COMMENTARY 974.3: The Pressure to Win in Sports and Business

A former successful college coach and athletic director once wrote me a note about the state of college sports. The pressure to win in high-profile schools is so great, he said, that it’s almost impossible to resist rationalizing. When competitors cheat or engage in other unethical conduct, the tendency is to redefine the ground rules for competition rather than be …

COMMENTARY 973.4: The Pressure to Cheat

What’s causing the growing hole in our moral ozone? Why are cheating and lying so common in schools, on the sports field, and in business and politics? Apparently it’s a thing called pressure. Kids are under pressure to get into college, athletes and coaches are under pressure to win, and, according to a survey by the American Management Association, the …

COMMENTARY 973.1: The Power of Words

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Really? Insults, teasing, gossip, and verbal abuse can inflict deeper and more enduring pain than guns and knives. Ask anyone who as a kid was fat, skinny, short, tall, flat-chested, big-busted, acne-faced, uncoordinated, slow-witted, or exceptionally smart. In schoolrooms and playgrounds across the country, weight, height, looks, …

COMMENTARY: The President’s Day Un-Celebration — Honoring Not Just the Great, But All U.S. Presidents

If you’re not going to school or work today, it’s because it’s a national holiday. The country used to celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln separately, but in 1971 Richard Nixon and Congress, in order to create a perpetual three-day weekend, merged the two holidays into a brand new one called Presidents Day, to honor all U.S. …

COMMENTARY 971.3: FINDING A HEALTHY BALANCE: To live and enjoy a good life, find a healthy balance between wanting more and appreciating enough. Realize that what you have is worthy of gratitude and appreciation, even as you strive for more.

It’s both a strength and weakness of human nature that we’re never satisfied for long. Whatever we have, wherever we are, most of us want more and better. When focused on money or power, our insatiability can turn into happiness-crushing greed, avarice, and obsessive ambition. But in many other areas of our life, our desire for more and better can …

COMMENTARY 970.3: Loopholes and Slippery Slopes

As a former law professor, I know all about loopholes. I trained students to find omissions and ambiguities in wording — a perfectly legal way to evade the clear intent of laws and agreements. After all, that’s what lawyers are paid to do. And, despite commonly expressed disdain when lawyers do this, that’s precisely what most clients want and expect when …

SCHOOL’S OUT…AND WE HAVE NO IDEA WHEN THEY WILL OPEN AGAIN.

SCHOOL’S OUT… …AND WE HAVE NO IDEA WHEN THEY WILL OPEN AGAIN.    Sadly, I think the LA superintendent gave terrorists their greatest victory since 9/11. It’s likely terrorists had nothing to do with the threat that caused the superintendent to instill a new level of fear in more than a half million students and the millions of adults who love them. The …

A Personal Note from Michael

As I celebrate my 73rd revolution around the sun (December 10) I am immensely grateful, not only to still be alive, but because the Josephson Institute and its CHARACTER COUNTS!  program have emerged from our most challenging year ever poised to reach new levels of impact on the character of our kids and the ethical quality of the country. There …

CC! Founder, Michael Josephson, in South Korea to Discuss Character Education

CC! Founder Michael Josephsonis in South Korea this week meeting with education officials to discuss nation’s new plans to introduce character education into schools. One of the challenges South Korea faces is the nation’s addiction to the internet and how that is impacting the kids. http://www.abc.net.au/…/south-korean-children-seek-…/6769766  

CHARACTER: When it comes to character, why can’t everyone be more like me?

Everyone I talk to agrees: this country (company, agency or school) needs more people with good old-fashioned character. You know, the kind of people who place ethics above expediency and integrity over personal advantage, people you can count on to do the right thing even if it may cost them more than they want to pay. The problem is it’s …