Commencement is an exciting time of year when students celebrate their accomplishments and officially become Spartan graduates. Extraordinary and impactful alumni are also part of the festivities, returning to their alma mater to address thousands of students and impart wisdom for the journey ahead.
This year, Erik Qualman (B.A. Marketing ’94) will be featured as the Broad College commencement speaker, addressing business undergraduates at the Breslin Center on May 6. Qualman is a five-time No. 1 bestselling author and keynote speaker and has reached 50 million people across 55 countries with his expertise.
“If we can dream it, we can do it, but so many of us resist stepping into our story,” Qualman said. “We resist our story for years, for decades, for life. The reason we resist our story is that it’s uncomfortable, challenging and hard in the short term. But the beautiful thing is that stepping into our story, for the long term, is the most comfortable place we can live.”
Qualman’s work has garnered expansive recognition, and he’s been voted the second most likeable author in the world. His Socialnomics work — exploring how social media transforms everyday life and business — has been featured on 60 Minutes and by the Wall Street Journal and has been used by the National Guard and NASA.
Qualman’s live performances are unique in that he is a pioneer in video storytelling. His most requested keynote topics include focus, innovation, leadership, digital leadership, future trends and digital transformation. Over his successful career, he has partnered with brands such as Starbucks, Raytheon, Chase, Sony, IBM, Airgas and Disney.
He is currently a professor of digital leadership at Northwestern University, and his materials are being taught and used at over 500 other universities. Qualman is also a former sitting professor at MIT and Harvard’s edX labs and has received an honorary doctorate for his groundbreaking work.
Qualman is also the founder of Equalman Studios, which has produced film and animation projects for some of the world’s leading brands, including Disney, Cartier, Chase and IBM. He is also the inventor of the bestselling board game Kittycorn. Most importantly, he says, he’s still trying to live up to the “World’s Greatest Dad” coffee mug he received from his wife and two daughters.
Through his commencement address, Qualman is hoping to inspire the newly minted Spartan graduates to step into their story, into their superpower. He wants the graduates to understand that we are all superheroes — we just need the courage to wear the cape.
Michigan State University’s spring 2023 commencement will be held at the Breslin Student Events Center and livestreamed. For more information on the commencement ceremonies, visit commencement.msu.edu.