"Never lose that passion, never lose who you are, and never lose that dream."–Leanne Manas, Guest Speaker at our #AutumnGraduation 2015.

Posted by University of the Free State on Thursday, 16 April 2015

Good afternoon and thank you for allowing me the honour of addressing you on this very special day in your lives.

I have been trying to remember myself around 20 years ago sitting in your exact position.

I remember the sense of excitement that filled me and the endless possibilities that awaited me in the real world. It was my time, I had worked hard and I was ready for the world and all its spectacular wonders… Or was I?

Don’t fool yourself – no-one is ever ready to enter the so called real world.
It’s a place where dreams are made and and it’s a place where dreams are destroyed.
It’s a place that nothing can prepare you for not even this amazing institution called UFS.

Leanne Manas

Leanne Manas

These walls have cushioned you for the last few years and nurtured you into the amazing individuals you are.
Take what you have learnt and let it guide you.

There is no rule book that anybody can give you that will make your journey easier, because in reality it’s not meant to be easy.

That’s what makes it fun, that’s what makes it interesting.

You will laugh, you will cry, you will love, you will hate. You will throw in the towel and you will give up.

But promise yourself today that through it all you will remain True to yourself and your passion.

I love what I do. I didn’t always love what I did to get here. But deep down I knew something better was waiting for me after each hard step of the way. 

It was Steve Jobs who said –

“You’ve got to find what you love.  

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

This life is your one opportunity to make a difference and to be happy doing it.

If it feels right in the burning cinders of your being – than it IS right. You may not find that love in your first, second or even third job – but don’t give up. We’ve all been there and you will find it.

Never sell yourself short – but never ever miss out on an opportunity.

Always believe you are the best for the job and do it with all your heart no matter how menial you think it is.

I started right at the bottom in my industry answering phone calls on a traffic desk.

Even though I got paid close to nothing – I took that opportunity and went to work every day with a smile on my face, greeted everyone and answered that phone with more passion than any other person.

I was like a hawk always searching for new opportunities and taking them no matter how big or small.
See the bigger picture and ultimate dream in everything you do!

It reminds me of a story of two shoe salesmen who were sent to Africa to see if there was a market for their product.

The first salesman reported back, “This is a terrible business opportunity, no-one wears shoes.”

The second salesman reported back, “This is a fantastic business opportunity, no-one wears shoes.”

The question you need to ask yourself is which salesman are you?

We live in a country that needs you.

We need young fresh beautiful minds to see things differently and carry forward the dream. Don’t allow us to fail as a nation – you all hold the key to change the course of history and see the opportunity where everyone else sees absolutely no hope.

Never underestimate yourself – but never ever think you are better than someone else.

I beg you to never forget these days. Look around you. In reality you will never see most of these people ever again. Some of you will make it big, some of you will make it small – and that’s ok.

But promise me one thing – never forget the humble hard working person you are sitting here today. Try not get ahead of yourself if success is your fate. Share it. You are going to leave here today and rely on someone to give you an opportunity. Always remember that and pay it forward.

It was Jeff Bezos that said one day you will realize it is far easier to be clever than to be kind.

There are too many greedy people in this world who care only for themselves and their success. They all started somewhere and have forgotten that.

Lift those around you and you will stand tall on their shoulders!

In my business it’s easy to get wrapped up in the limelight and stealing the attention. But very early on in my career, I worked alongside someone who gave me the best advice.
The more you give, the more you get.

Best words spoken.

There are not too many things I can guarantee you as you leave here today except maybe for one thing. You will fail and perhaps a few times.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that – in fact that’s life!

Sometimes it’s through failing at one thing that we are actually lead to our true destiny. It’s hard not to quote JK Rowling – 

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

Take chances, while you are young and too clever for your own good!

Remember this – 
A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there!

Two more things I want to share with you before I go.

The rise to the top must be slow – the faster the rise the harder the fall. One of the biggest problems with your generation is your desire and need for speed! You want everything to come to you fast, quick and easy. Life does not work that way. The sooner you realize that you will not be walking out of these doors into the position of CEO of a company – the easier your journey will be.

Through my career I have taken a slow methodical rise – using every opportunity given to me to the best of my ability.

In fact I was possibly the only person I know who refused to take the position of female anchor of morning live when it first became available.

I felt I wasn’t ready for such a big role, I needed more experience before I said yes.

And believe it or not – the opportunity came around again.

Patience and experience does pay off!

My final thought I leave you with today – sums it all up.

You are enthusiastic, hungry and eager young souls wanting to take on the world and achieve your dreams. The universe is full of horrible bitter people who will do everything in their power to destroy your dreams – don’t let them. I stand here today and tell you without a shadow of a doubt that dreams do and can come true.

You need to believe in yourself and not in what others tell you! Work hard and passionately and with dedication, enthusiasm and commitment and nothing and no one can stop you.

I was told that I would never make it in Broadcasting. That I did not have what it takes to be a successful presenter/journalist.

My world was shattered – but I had two options.

Listen to that person and walk away or follow my heart and believe in myself and my dreams.
I say it again – ladies and gentleman dreams do come true – just believe!

I thank you.