Jim Hallett’s Message to Marian University Graduates: Be Grateful

During the first weekend in May, KAR Chairman and CEO Jim Hallett was presented with an honorary doctoral degree in business from Marian University. He was also given the opportunity to address the crowd of graduates, staff and families. His message was one that resonates with his own way of living and one that has contributed to his success: BE GRATEFUL.

Jim will tell you himself that he can hardly say “hello” in under 10 minutes, so here’s just an excerpt from his commencement address. 

Being grateful.

I’ve been incredibly blessed and fortunate throughout my life. And there are three things that have always guided me:

I’ll touch on each of these in hopes they will help you find happiness and success in all you do.  

Be Grateful for Your Community

Let me start with being grateful for your community. And I lead with that because that’s what this room is today – a community.

I am very grateful for the support that helped me get to where I am today. But I’m even more grateful for what it instilled in me: a strong work ethic and a passion for my community.

Be Grateful for Others

Next, we need to be grateful for others. We can’t do anything alone. 

We need to listen and respect what others have to offer. Never assume that you are better than anyone. And ask for help — it’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, I would say it’s a great attribute. 

Be Grateful for Yourself

And finally, as you enter this next phase of your life, be grateful for yourself. That means always believing you are capable of anything.

Often the thing we fear the most is ourselves, but you are better than you think you are, and you can accomplish more than you think you can. 

It doesn’t matter where you come from, or what your parents did. Rich or poor, introvert or extrovert, academic star or just average — much like myself — anyone can acquire the skills to be great, if you fully commit. 

Being grateful for yourself means not selling yourself short and never giving up on your dreams. One of the many things my mother told me was: “You can achieve anything in life if you are willing to outwork everybody else.” I was first in — last out — doing whatever it takes. 

As you move through life, ask yourself, “How far would you go to accomplish your goals and your dreams?” I hope your answer is: “As far as it takes.”


I am so grateful for everything that’s happened in my life, and I can tell you, I’m a kid that made it against the odds. That’s because I received unconditional love, support and mentorship that changed my life into something beyond my comprehension.

Serving others is now your charge — and I hope you will embrace and fulfill it. 

Make a difference. Change lives. Be grateful. 


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