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The Spiritual Pep Talk We All Need: Devon Franklin’s USC Commencement Speech

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Devon Franklin inspires with one of the best commencement speeches of 2019. Speaking to business school graduates about the power of faith, persistence, and being unique.


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DeVon Franklin is an acclaimed producer in Hollywood producing blockbuster faith films like Heaven is for Real and the recently released Breakthrough. After graduating, USC DeVon went on to work in entertainment. Forming his own production company after sixteen years of hard work, DeVon came to inspire recent grads to never give up.

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DeVon starts off on how the USC film school actually rejected him. But Marshall business school gave him a shot. He had a dream to start his own production company, but others doubted him saying “DeVon it’s not possible, your African American, your Christian, there’s no way you can find a place.”

Speaking to hundreds of graduates DeVon shared how it can be scary to have such big dreams, but not know how it will be fulfilled. Franklin encouraged the students not to let fear be an obstacle to those dreams, in a society that has conditioned us for fear. Sharing: “Anything you’re afraid of you must make it your to-do list.”

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Franklin also made a powerful statement on the power of not just relying on a piece of paper to qualify or define us. “The degree cannot quantify the power of who you really are. Don’t find your identity in the four years of what you’ve done here. You are who you are no matter what it says on your diploma, I need you to know that.  You have what it takes to make it, you have the creativity, who have the power and you have the purpose.”

DeVon also highlighted four tips for being successful in business:

  1. You have to be crazy and think that you can achieve a dream that no one on this earth can do.
  2. Your difference is your destiny. What makes you unique will propel you forward.
  3. Carry a crown before you wear one. Serve others. Make your boss’s life easier. Too often we want the crown before serving someone, it does not work like that, commit to the process.
  4. Find the Ol’ Town Road and ride it to the road to success. Never listen to naysayers. Find the road that even others can not see, and ride on.

He is emphasizing that our differences make us stand out. When these graduates leave school the very things they think God can’t use He will use. “The path of your destiny is built on how unique and authentic you are.” Taking the elements of how God created each one of us, DeVon encourages us that Christ can use us in extraordinary ways.