Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020!
I’m Miki Tsusaka—born in Tokyo, raised in Tokyo and New York, graduated from college and grad school in Boston, and I’ve been at BCG for 30 years. Two of my three kids have graduated from college. My youngest is finishing up his freshman year online in Tokyo from a college in Boston!
None of you likely anticipated that the world would be in the midst of a pandemic—but let me assure you, I have high hopes for your generation and know you will help us thrive in the new normal.
I’ve been asked to share a few lessons upon your graduation, so I reflected back on my own time. I hope what’s been important to me might provide some food for thought.
First, be thankful for the educational opportunity and the experience you just had. I never dreamed of going to the college that I did. Once I was accepted and applied for financial aid, I was shocked at how little my father made—and worried about the financial burden I placed on him. Fortunately, I did receive some support to ease his responsibility, but I will be forever grateful to my parents for encouraging me to apply and for “figuring out” the details. Because of their encouragement and support, I got the education (and funding) and am so forever grateful for that. What an incredible gift.
Second, remember both the good days and the bad and keep it all in perspective. The good days make me smile: when I did a great job in a class, scored a few points, and had an awesome time with amazing friends. These moments will be with me forever. Equally, the dark days flash back to me vividly, when I simply screwed up or life was just too hard. I had to deal with the drama of personal situations, and I endured those “I wish I hadn’t done that” moments. All are important life lessons. Know that every day won’t be a good day but that resilience allows us to get through the bad days. Reminding myself that the good outweighs the bad keeps me grounded to this day.
Finally, be the best version of yourself. You’ve just spent a few years trying to perfect the art of YOU. Alas, it’s a never-ending project that involves an ongoing polishing of the rock that you are. I’d caution against veering toward extremes: being overly confident that you are at the top of the world (because there is always someone more amazing than you) or feeling as if you have an eternity of to-dos to get you where you’d like to be (because we all need to cut ourselves some slack). I love how we talk about our purpose at BCG—how we unlock the potential of those who advance the world. To you and those around you: you all have the potential to help unlock each other. But right now, it’s just fine to be at your own personal best.
Bravo to you all, and thanks for taking all of us to whatever comes next!
Follow Miki Tsusaka on LinkedIn