05/26/2020|Inside Verizon

Recap of “Class of 2020: Ready For Anything” with William P. Lauder and Katie Sowers.

By: Kelley Haggert
Manager - External Communications

Top Tips for Graduates from a Titan of Industry and the First Woman to Coach in a Superbowl.

Full Transparency

Our editorial transparency tool uses blockchain technology to permanently log all changes made to official releases after publication. However, this post is not an official release and therefore not tracked. Visit our learn more for more information.

More of our content is being permanently logged via blockchain technology starting [10.23.2020].

Learn more
Class of 2020: #ReadyForAnything A Commencement Series

Verizon kicked off its virtual commencement series, “Class of 2020: Ready for Anything,” last Friday with William P. Lauder, Executive Chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies, and Katie Sowers, Assistant Coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Both shared insight and inspiration with graduates as they head out into whatever comes next. Some of the top takeaways:

As graduates look to secure a new job or start their own business, William shared his winning combination for success: perseverance and passion. When his grandmother, Estée Lauder, traveled the United States by train in post-WWII trying to sell her products to buyers, she was met with resistance. especially as a woman in retail. But she stayed the course, put in the hours, pushed through the No’s -- the adversity -- and made the sales, all fueled by her passion for building a brand of her own. Graduates can do the same, especially as they are faced with such unprecedented challenges.

When asked about what he looks for in a qualified candidate, William emphasized confidence. He went on to differentiate it from arrogance; authentic self-confidence is rooted in humility and a willingness to listen and learn. Illustrate self-confidence and a true belief that you can do what you hope you can do, and you’ll be on board in no time.

Katie Sowers drew from a 2010 journal entry and reflected on lessons learned throughout her career, emphasizing the importance of attitude. We all know the burden of hardship (the weight it carries) but it is the way in which you view that weight that makes all the difference. She went on to say happiness is not a mindset, it’s a career decision. Being happy -- appreciating your job (or current situation) and all that comes with it -- will have a significant impact on your level of joy and that of your colleagues. Especially now as challenges might appear as roadblocks, looking at them as merely obstacles will greatly influence the outcome.

As graduates pursue their first or next opportunity, Katie emphasized that “if the door doesn’t open, maybe it’s not your door.” There have been times throughout her career when she didn’t get the opportunity she wanted but, looking back, she realizes that getting that No pointed her toward a better Yes. She wouldn’t be where she is now -- personally or professionally -- without those closed doors and, for that, she is grateful.

As Katie observed, hindsight is 20/20 so perhaps it’s no coincidence that you’re graduating in the year 2020. You’re seeing life through a different lens and it will take a different approach, a different perspective, to navigate what lies ahead. But we know you can do it, graduates. We believe in you!

Moderator Julie Hyman, Anchor — Yahoo Finance (L), and Katie Sowers, NFL Assistant Coach (R).

Be sure to tune in to Verizon’s LinkedIn page this Friday, May 29th at 11:00 am ET for the next commencement in the series featuring Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers as he talks about the importance of mental health. #Commencement2020 #ReadyForAnything

For media inquiries, please contact Lauren Tilstra at lauren.tilstra@verizon.com or (908) 635-9099.

Related Articles


Learn more in his CEO Forum Group magazine Q&A.


A note of gratitude from our leaders.