Sunil Tolani: A Congratulatory Speech to the Class of 2021

Sunil “Sunny” Tolani is an American social entrepreneur and the CEO of Prince Organization. 

Speaking to teenagers, I learned that their # 1 wish is that they had more business and entrepreneurship education in high school. Most of them want to learn to start their own business in Hospitality.  I’m committed to exposing today’s teens to new ways of thinking. As an entrepreneur, I see problems and opportunities and act on them. I also teach my sons business and entrepreneurship principles because it’s never too early to prepare tomorrow’s business leaders.

I continue to use my talent to empower others to change the world and to make a difference in some ways or in any way they can. As my parents always say, “Nobody is too small or unimportant to help turn the tide. You don’t have to do anything earth-shattering, just work hard at the small things to make a big difference in others’ lives.” There is no better teacher than failure nor better education than adversity. That has been my most important lesson in business, as I Never stop learning. The more you learn, the more you realize how much there is to learn.


It has been the most unusual year. The exhausting school year is winding down. You’ve worked hard, and your resilience and persistence define you. Let the voice of your heart guide you along the path of your dreams.

It is truly an honor and privilege to be your speaker and do my bit to inspire and positively impact your lives as you plan to become entrepreneurs. I admire your curiosity, natural creativity, and unbridled enthusiasm, which are the hallmarks of great entrepreneurs. Your inventiveness and drive taught me a few things. I commend you for your focus and diligent efforts as you all find ways to create a business model with practical life skills and financial awareness and prepare to compete and thrive in our ever-changing, global economy, climbing the ladders of your success and empowering yourselves to confidently pursue dreams.

Graduation is a special milestone in a young student’s life. And as someone who has made the transition from formal education to career, a senior’s or an adult’s advice and encouragement are essential to any grad in need of direction.

Grads will use their passion into a meaningful career. They will use their talents to benefit our community. Their impact can improve the world in a million tiny ways by following their hearts.

I pray you all become people of great heart and right conscience through leadership, service, and a life-long commitment to humanistic values. Be strong and so wonderful that your strength and courage in low times is as admirable as your optimism and friendly nature. Never stop sharing your beautiful spirit and never forget how special you are. Dream big and build on your originality. Steer away from one-size-fits-all-type goals and do not stand with the crowd; stand apart from them. I love it when the kids who have the odds stacked against them preserve.

Once you get going, do not stop, as you are the most important person you need to believe and convince; and the key ingredient for success in any business is honesty, integrity, hard work, determination, and a little bit of luck. The harder you work, the luckier you get as you are willing to commit 110 percent to succeed, commit to drive innovation, commit to make an impact.

Be successful, but more importantly, be significant, leading meaningful and productive lives. I want you all students to think big for tomorrow, demonstrating your ambition and know-how of American capitalism. Your job is also always to look out for better options as nobody will give anything to you. You must execute and take it.  In life, you have got to dream big by setting seemingly impossible challenges, make what most people believe is impossible possible, and to make it happen, you must dream big. I want you to be great entrepreneurs as great things in business are learned on the fly, falling on the head but getting right back up. My mother always says, “A man can fail and fall many times, but he is not a failure until he gets right back up not blaming others for his failure evading responsibility.”

Work ethic and discipline is just as important as intellect (and oftentimes more important).  I noticed several fellow students who were smarter than me struggling just to pass, due to lack of established work ethic (a.k.a. study habits) and later in their careers. LinkedIn, job boards, resumes, and personal networks are just tools. Be willing to expand your horizons beyond these and the whole world might open for you.

Proud parents, principals, teachers, and staff, even after the Class of 2021 has their diplomas in hand, their education is not over, and neither is mine or yours. Teaching and learning go hand in hand. I learn just as much as everybody else. Let us all continue the quest for searching, questioning, and learning together. Let us put our trust in each other and make choices that spread positivity. When we do that, we (and the world) will be better for it.

My personal mission is serving as an entrepreneurship catalyst, personally committed to educating, training, and empowering entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of any age. Today all of us celebrate your work.

Promise me that you will be the best version of yourself by giving back and with social justice.  I wish you true happiness and huge success as you follow your dreams into the future being a doer.


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