For Canadian philanthropist and mining engineer Pierre Lassonde, four simple elements determine success – passion, experience, speed and trust.
His simple and very clear message during Friday’s Spring Convocation ceremonies: “Be a PEST!” He delivered this advice to graduands of the Lassonde School of Engineering and the Faculty of Science.
Lassonde was on the convocation stage to accept an honorary doctor of laws degree from York University.
“If you’re going to remember only one thing from my speech it is that I told you to be a PEST, which stands for passion, experience, speed and trust,” he told graduands and their families. The acronym, he said, came from his son’s business partner and is used to evaluate prospective high-technology startup management.
“I got to thinking about your graduation and the fact that you are facing the startup of your working life, your career, and that ‘yes to be a PEST’ was entirely appropriate advice,” he said.
Lassonde was honoured by York University for his tremendous accomplishments to Canadian business and his philanthropic generosity to education and the arts. York’s new Lassonde School of Engineering bears his name as does a building on the Keele campus. In addition to being the co-founder of Franco-Nevada Mining Corp., a leading global gold royalty and stream company, Lassonde has served as the chair of the Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts since 2005. He is the recipient of numerous honours, including being made a member of the Order of Canada in 2002 and an officer of the Quebec Order in 2008. He was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in January 2013.
“Passion is important for what you do, for the people you love, for the dreams you want to turn into reality,” he said. “If you’re passionate about what you do, you will not work a day in your life and you will get paid to have fun. Isn’t that incredible?”
Experience requires hours – some 10,000 hours, said Lassonde, quoting Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. “To be world class at anything, be it sports, music, computer programming, whatever it is that you want to do, you need 10,000 hours of practice.” He told graduands that he started at 36 years of age, after contemplating a career in architecture, enrolling in an engineering degree and eventually finding his passion in gold. “I never looked back. My 10,000 hours I did after I graduated. Make a plan, be flexible and get on with it!”
Speed is important. “The next five years will come and go just as fast. Get on with it,” he said.
Key to the four elements is trust, said Lassonde, because it is a fundamental building block for a successful life.
“Trust is defined as the reliance or confidence in the integrity, strength, ability and surety of a person or an institution. It starts at the family level, extends to your work place and goes all the way up to our country’s judicial system, our police, our health-care system,” he said.
“Show your partner, your boss, your clients, your bankers, your friends and family that you can be trusted. It’s a gift to yourself.”
York University’s 2014 Spring Convocation ceremonies are streamed live and then archived online.
To view Lassonde’s convocation address, visit the York University convocation website.