Ted Bell Tells Graduating Seniors “Love What You Do”

May 6, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publication editor

Author and former advertising executive Ted Bell gave some practical advice to the graduating class at Florida Southern’s spring Commencement ceremony on May 3, including the exhortation, “Be nice to everyone.”

The ceremony, presided over by FSC President Anne Kerr, saw the awarding of degrees to 410 undergraduates and six graduate students, one of FSC’s largest classes in recent years.

Bell, the author of the popular Alex Hawke series of spy novels, spent many years at prestigious advertising firms in America and Europe, concluding his career as Vice Chairman and Worldwide Creative Director at Young & Rubicam in London. He oversaw campaigns that won numerous industry awards, including the Clio and the Grand Prix at the international Cannes Festival.

In his Commencement address, Bell gave the graduates nine insights that he termed “Learning the Ropes,” which he gleaned during his career in the advertising business. They are principles, he said, which “may be all you’ve got to hang onto” when faced with difficult times.

Among those principles was his point about being nice to everyone.

“In business, you cannot be too nice. Contrary to popular wisdom, nice people do not finish last. … In fact, the bigger you get, the nicer you have to be,” he said.

Bell also advised the graduates to turn all their energy into plans, actions, and deeds.

“Don’t wait for the next guy, get busy solving problems,” he said.

His other principles included finding a mentor; being on time; saying please, thank you, and “I’m sorry”; not being afraid to ask questions that may seem dumb; and never pointing fingers at others. His final point was to “love what you do and do what you love.”

“Even if you succeed and are miserable at what you do, what would be the point? You can’t always be the smartest person in the room, but you can always be the most passionate,” he said.

The College conferred on Bell, who has occasionally taught master classes at FSC, the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters.

The Commencement ceremony also included the presentation of the President’s Scholar Medal to senior Lauren Williams, a music performance major who graduated magna cum laude. The medal is awarded to a senior who exemplifies the College’s values of scholarship, leadership, and service. In presenting the medal, President Kerr noted that Williams was “an exemplary student and passionate learner who successfully balanced academics with campus engagement.”

The Miller Distinguished Professor Award was presented to Dr. Nancy Morvillo, the Nelson C. White Professor of Life Sciences at FSC. Provost Kyle Fedler said Dr. Morvillo has “instilled a love of science in those who have studied with her” and quoted a student who praised her enthusiasm. The Miller award is given to a faculty member who has achieved excellence in teaching, scholarly productivity, and advising.

The Senior Speaker was Katie Luecht, a psychology and interpersonal and organizational communication double major from Crystal Lake, Ill., who emphasized the connections the graduating class has made.

“We leave Florida Southern with a love of wisdom … and lifelong friendships,” she said.

Luecht has held several important leadership positions in campus organizations and prestigious honor societies, including president of the FSC Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa. She was recognized as the college’s 2014 Honor Walk student at the Founders Day Convocation in March.