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May 18, 2008

Case Western Reserve University Finds Commencement Speaker on Craig's List

Craig Newmark received two degrees from Case Western Reserve University more than 30 years ago. Today, he turned in his kangol beret in favor of mortarboard and tassel and received his third, a honorary degree from his alma mater. The founder of one of the most well known and disruptive technology platforms of the past decade (Craig's List)declared himself a proud 'nerd'. 'I grew up in high school with a plastic pocket protector, and big thick black glasses taped together.' Craig's commencement talk wove nostalgia of his time as a student at Case Western Reserve in the 70s with nuggets of insights. At a seminar on communications at Thwing Hall, Craig suggests that he finally learned that the challenges he and other nerds faced in communication were not universal. 'Some people knew how to communicate and others ... just need to keep on working on it.' He also shared some of the values that inform his life work at Craig's list. Doing the basic and boring stuff well like customer service, and really listening to people and giving them a break is at the heart of his passion and mission. Caring and nurturing the community around you and civic engagement were among the other messages that Craig conveyed in his own inimitable and self-deprecating manner. 2008 he asserted is a big year and he implored the graduating class to take the opportunity to make a difference and help re-invigorate the democratic process in the United States.

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Craig also rubbed shoulders with some of Cleveland's digerati at the second annual Cleveland Techsync Cleveland event last night sponsored by National City Bank and organized by Beta Strategies founder, Cathy Horton. Today at commencement Craig echoed a line he shared last night at TechSync when asked why he had chosen not to sell his company and take the money and run. 'Having enough money to take care of my modest needs and a bit more for the future is all I need. I know lots of people who have tonnes of money and they are no happier than most anyone else and are often times burdened by their wealth.' A simple and yet profound message for graduates.

Let's hope it won't take Craig Newmark another 30 years to make his way back to Cleveland and a follow up visit to Case Western Reserve University.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH
May 17, 2008

Posted by lsg8 at May 18, 2008 11:56 AM and tagged

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