In his first big public address outside the walls of Honolulu Hale, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle struck a positive tone, sharing lessons he learned from his father and encouraging a new class of college graduates to be dynamic leaders — and to apply for a job with the city, too. 

“You will be my very first graduates,” he told the roughly 650 graduates from Hawaii Pacific University during Monday night’s commencement ceremony at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.

Showing his characteristic charisma, his speech meandered from personal anecdotes to advice that doesn’t yet apply to probably most of the graduates, finally landing on his own roadmap to success in the working world. The secret is not in money, he said, but fulfillment.

After getting sidetracked with a soliloquy in which he advised all men to embrace the mantra that “When the wife is happy, life is happy,” Carlisle got down to brass tacks about what graduates are most concerned with: Work.

“I can’t tell you about your past any more than I can tell you about your future, especially in today’s difficult job market,” he told them. “But I can tell you one thing for certain: The reason you are here today is because HPU was good for you in one way, shape or form.”

He briefly talked about the floundering economy, spending more time on the challenges adults inevitably face in the working world. He admonished the graduates to hang onto three tools for overcoming those challenges: Hope, opportunity and work.

“You’re going to have challenges,” he said. “There are a couple of ways of looking at a challenging situation. On one hand, there’s gloom and despair, pessimism and fear, and anger at the situation. There’s an obsession with the present and what’s happening now. On the other hand, you can look at it with the thought of hope: There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

He encouraged the graduates to focus on the creating their own futures by taking advantage of the opportunity they have now to seek fulfillment in whatever they do.

He passed on his father’s advice to him when he also had his future ahead of him:

“What he told me was that essentially, what you should do is find what you want to do, in a place that you want to be, amongst people you want to be around,” he said.

The world needs dynamic leaders, too, Carlisle told them. He described dynamic leaders as people who are willing to work hard. But they have an even more important quality, he said: Passion.

“(In a study of dynamic leaders), when asked what is the most important thing for them, it wasn’t how much money they made,” he said. “It was whether or not that they felt that their job was important. That was more important to them than monetary gain.”

Reality and challenges aside, many graduates were sure to be pleased with his effusive invitation to apply to work with the city.

“From the City and County of Honolulu, we’d love to have you on board from this distinguished university,” he said.

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