It is a very, very great honor for me to be here with you today to salute the effort that everyone on this stage has made to become an honor student.
I've long admired, for over 20 years, maybe 25 years, long admired UFM and all that it stands for, its values and the excellence of everything it does.
I've been asked to speak very briefly this evening.
And I want to say a word or two about change and a word or two about the labor market that you will all face.
Now, I'm an economist turned policy person so I thought I'd first talk about change and rates of change and why they matter and how they might impact you.
People argue about change, is the world getting more complicated they ask? ls the pace of change increasing they wonder?
For what is worth, I think the world is getting simpler - except where governments get involved and make life difficult. Just look at how simple so many things are now compared to 30 years ago. There used to be, in my country, a 6-month wait for a telephone. That must sound incredible to you to have to wait six months for telephone.
Simple computing involved punching cards and then carrying them underneath your chin and walking long distances across campus and handing them in some strange concrete building and waiting days for the results.
Google does in seconds what once took hours. And I think the pace of change, in a strange way, is decreasing, my grandmothers were both born before flight was invented and they saw man land on the moon and they saw Concorde fly at supersonic speeds.
We've all just seen Concorde mothballed, say 5 years ago, and nobody has landed on the moon since I972. Indeed the people who put us on the moon are all long retired. We would have to rediscover how to do that.
But whatever the pace of change you will face lots of it and in the worlds of economics and business it has to be embraced.
Let me share a couple of stories with you about economic change.
In 1967 the Swiss watchmakers were celebrating centuries of market domination. They held all the patents: they had 65% of worldwide sales and 90% of worldwide profits.
Between all the Swiss watch companies they jointly owned a research laboratory. At the 1967 annual meeting of all the bosses and the head of research lab, the world's first digital watch was displayed.
But the CEOs thought it was ajoke. It had none of the usual things you associated then with a watch such as hands, springs, cogs, wheels and jewels. They did not see a watch. They all laughed and moved on to the next new invention.
Well their inability to see a watch destroyed them. The next year, 1968, this joke watch was displayed at a convention in Dallas. Some folks from Tokyo walked by and they saw a watch. And you know what? The Swiss were so arrogant, they had not even bother to patented it.
Over the next 13 years the number of employees of Swiss watchmakers fell from 62.000 to 10,0001 that 65% of world sales fell to 10%; that 90% of world profits fell to 20%. And Seiko went from 1% of world market share to 33%.
What a lesson in alertness or lack of it. And it is repeated. Look at IBM not cut down to size by a better IBM but by somebody doing it differently. Microsoft too, will one day be brought down not by a better Microsoft but by somebody doing Windows differently.
My second story concerns CDs. We did not have CDs until about 20 years ago. Before that we had things called LPs which were about 30cm x 30cm. One of you might be old enough to remember what an LP looked like.
The story goes that the earliest inventor of CD technology took an LP sized CD to the marketing department of his company. It could hold a huge amount of music, so much so that the marketing department promptly rejected it.
So for years CD technology sat on this man's shelf because, just like our Swiss watchmakers, nobody could see beyond the mental image of an LP.
It was only when a second inventor came along and figured out that a CD should be big enough to contain Beethoven's 9", and no more, that the LP mental image was broken and we got the handy sized CDs of today. In fact, I just picked one up at lunch time, Hymns of the Hogar, Orthodox Christian Hymns sung by the children of the Hogar Rafael Ayau, Guatemala City, Guatemala.
CD Technology sat on a shelf for nearly a decade.
Let me finish with a word about you and the jobs you will hold. Sorry to disappoint you, you are not going to be holding the top jobs. No, you will be holding the very, very, very top jobs in our world economy and international society. Every single one of you has the opportunity and potential to be a real leader in industry or the professions or the arts or education or research, you would not be here today if that were not the case.
You will be at a level where mostly you will not apply for jobs once you're on the employment ladder but rather you will be promoted within or headhunted from outside your company or your agency or whatever it is that you end up working at.
I can share something with you, when labor economists interview people about how they got their jobs they often get the answer: "Oh, do not interview me -I'm an outlier- how I got my job, my new big, big promotion, my new job was really bizarre.
They hear that all the time from people, and it turns out that word of mouth about you, reputation and distant often brief contacts you had with people, rather than longstanding close contacts, are hugely important in the labor market.
One lesson from all of this is always do your best and always behave well because the labor market will reward you, I promise.
Being here today means that you are already in the top 1% of your age cohort. Your own efforts and those of your parents and teachers have already given you a far superior start in life.
With your God given talents, plus your family, plus UFM, plus hard work there is no limit to how high you can fly.
So, just GO FOR IT! Ok guys... go for it. Thank you.
John Blundell addresses honor graduates during this ceremony. He speaks about change and how it has impacted successful people during the course of history and how it has modified our way of living. He also mentions the importance of their careers in the future of our country and finally motivates them to be the best they can be in their own lives.
John Blundell's Speech during the Ceremony for Honor Graduates (November 2010) John Blundell
Juan Bautista Gutiérrez Auditorium Universidad Francisco Marroquín Guatemala, November 5, 2010
A New Media - UFM production. Guatemala, November 2010 Camera: Mynor de León, Mario Estrada, Jorge Samayoa, Sergio Miranda; digital editing: Claudia de Obregón, Mynor de León; index and synopsis: Sergio Bustamante; content reviser: Sofía Díaz; publication: Carlos Petz/Daphne Ortiz
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 License Este trabajo ha sido registrado con una licencia Creative Commons 3.0
John Blundell is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Institute of Economics Affairs (IEA). Previously, he was Director General and Ralph Harris Fellow at that institution. He headed the Press, Research and Parliamentary Liaison Office at the Federation of Small Businesses, and was a Lambeth London Borough Councillor, both in UK. He was also president of the Institute for Humane Studies, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Charles G. Koch and Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundations, in USA. Blundell is board member of the Institute of Economic Studies, France; and of the Mont Pelerin Society. He studied at the King's School and at the London School of Economics. He is author of the books: Waging the War of Ideas, Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady and Ladies for Liberty: Women Who Made a Difference in American History.