Below is the full text of the speech of Donald Trump’s Wall Commencement Address delivered in 2004 during a graduation ceremony at Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y.
Well, thank you very much.
I’ve always wanted to be known as a ‘doctor’. And Melania, from now on, you will address me as ‘Dr. Trump’.
Sure she will.
Well, you’re about to begin a great new journey and you never really know where that journey will take you.
Look at me. I was a very successful real estate developer in New York City and they said, “Do you mind doing a television show?”
So I said, “I guess, what the hell.”
And we did it.
But then after I agreed to do it, I was speaking to my good friend John Myers who runs a little thing called the General Electric Pension Fund — what is that? A couple of hundred billion or something, ridiculous [inaudible]. People don’t know — people just don’t know. He’s a great guy.
And John and some of the NBC folks explained that 95% of the shows that go on the air failed.
So I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before I agreed to do it?”
But it became really something, and it went to the number one show on television.
So here I am, I am a star! And there’s nothing like it. It beats real estate all the time.
I hope each and every one of you realize how really important you are not only to your parents and you owe them a very big ‘thank you’.
But really you have to realize that to yourself. And if you do, you’re going to go out and conquer.
Graduation really is just a beginning. I graduated from school. We’re all a little bit nervous. We never know what’s going to happen. We never know where the world is going. We’re in a pretty frightening place right now.
But I thought what I’d do is put down a few points so that you folks can go out and at least maybe have a guideline.
Because I’ve lived by this guideline and it sort of worked. We’ve had some little doubts every once in a while, but it’s worked for me.
And I always begin by saying “You have to love what you do.” If you don’t love it, don’t do it.
Don’t let your parents push you into something. Don’t let your girlfriend, your boyfriend, don’t let anybody push you in. If you don’t love it, don’t do it and probably you won’t be very good at it, if you’re doing something against your will.
It may not seem like the right thing at the time but you’ve got to love it.
Another thing: Give 100% of what you’ve got. No matter how long we’re on this planet, if we’re 80, 90 or 100 years old, it’s really just a speck of time.
So give 100%. Just so important.
Review yourself every day: How am I doing, especially now. How am I doing? What am I doing? Am I enjoying it? Am I doing it well? Do my bosses like me? What’s going on?
Review yourself. See how things are going.
You’re going to have a lot of problems. Life is tough.
In 1990 — and John can tell you – I owed billions and billions of dollars. And it seemed like there was no end. Some people would say $9.2 billion. Nobody wants to owe that much money.
I slept well. But the banks didn’t.
The fact is I fought, I worked, and now my company is a much bigger stronger, more solid company than it ever was before — much bigger than it was in the ‘80s, much much bigger than it was in the ‘90s but I never gave up.
And honestly the odds were against me. The Guinness Book of Records, other than this great recognition today, I think in its own way I’m very honored — the Guinness Book of Records has me down as the greatest personal financial comeback of all time.
Now I don’t know what that means, because I just kept working. It was the same thing. The ‘90s weren’t as good as the ‘80s. Then the end of the ‘90s were great and now it’s sort of better than that.
But you just keep working.
Be disciplined. Don’t lose discipline. Get out there and fight for everything. Don’t lose discipline.
And don’t live on the edge, like I do. You don’t need it. You want to have a nice normal life, folks. Okay.
Study something everyday; learn. There’s nothing like education.
You know, I grew up right next to Wagner College. A lot of people don’t know. They see Trump Tower and they see Fifth Avenue. I love this.
When John asked me to receive this great recognition, I was happy to do it.
My father owned a job right next-door Grymes Hill Apartments and I would collect coins in the washing machines with my father, almost every Saturday. And we’d go around collecting on Howard. We’d just go around and collect and there usually wasn’t too much money in there but we collect.
And he’d say, “Come on, let’s make the rounds”, and we’d stop at Wagner College a lot.
And I happened to think — and I’ve been to great colleges and great campuses — I happened to think that this is one of the most beautiful campuses anywhere in the United States. I really believe that.
Keep the big picture in mind, but never lose sight of the details. Because the details can send you down — if you lose sight of the details, they can send you down. So keep that big picture in mind. Never lose sight of the details, always.
And this is sort of a little bit tough to say in terms of success and I refuse to say it to this crowd.
I refuse, because you’re much too idealistic. Always have a prenuptial agreement but I’m not saying. I will not say. Of course, half of my friends have been destroyed by divorce but I refuse to say.
I’ll tell you — to me, the second most important thing after love what you do is never ever give up. Don’t give up. Don’t allow it to happen. If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it; go over; go around but get to the other side of that wall.
I have so many people that I’ve seen over the years, if they just fought a little bit harder, they would have made it. They would have succeeded. They would have accomplished their goal. But they gave up.
Don’t give up.
Abraham Lincoln said, “I will study and prepare and perhaps — just perhaps, my chance will come.” And that’s very very true.
And just in closing, I’m going to say to you two words that I only said once on the apprentice: “You are hired.”
Good luck. Do well.
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