Video of Krista Canfield's keynote address to the class of 2015.

By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

An enriching life isn’t about things and stuff, or about being rich and famous. Instead, living life to the fullest is about having memorable experiences with the people who mean the most to you in this world.

That’s the advice Krista Canfield, a Syracuse native and a 2003 Syracuse University graduate, offered to the School of Information Studies (iSchool) Class of 2015 as Convocation keynote speaker.

Getting to an enriching life and career may require quitting the surety of where you are for an uncertain path that appears it may be more personally suited and satisfying, she suggested. That’s a step not to be feared, she added, referencing the Dr. Seuss book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” that she was given upon her high school graduation. “You may have to step outside your comfort zone before the excitement begins,” she explained.

She asked the graduates what they thought they wanted to do in life, and how they might find fulfillment. “Once you get that first job, what’s next? A promotion? More money? A house? More things?” She advised them to begin their careers by generating a mission…where they want to be in three to five years…and a vision…“where you want to be in the long run.” A vision “gets you out of the daily grind and makes you think about the big picture, what your end goal might be,” she described.

Being scared is good too, she said, because “like growing pains, the scary times stretch you into the person you are destined to become.”  She told the graduates that “to have adventure in life, you might have to “scare up” courage and strength.” She herself has been scared, from the time she bungee jumped in New Zealand, to her ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro during which she suffered snow blindness, to her first job at a startup in a recession environment, where she feared co-workers could soon become empty seats, she said. “The things that scare you are what make life an adventure. It’s the unexpected twists and turns that yield the most surprise and delight…the nights you didn’t think you’d stay out late, the trips you hadn’t planned on taking. Sometimes it’s the hike down from the top that’s the hardest part, but that doesn’t stop you from wanting to go after the next peak,” she advised.

Canfield also told the graduates to have compassion for others in this world, exemplified by simple acts, such as helping someone who is struggling with their groceries; complimenting a co-worker when they least expect it; “sending your mom flowers when it isn’t Mother’s Day; telling your kids you’re proud of them when it isn’t Graduation Day.”

She concluded, “Begin your adventure, and enjoy the zigs and zags. Don’t be scared; scare up [resources]. Do what you were going to do tomorrow, today. Stuff and things won’t fit in the overhead compartment,” the world-traveler reminded, “so travel light and pack your life full of memorable experiences.”

Canfield is a graduate of Syracuse's Newhouse School of Public Communications (broadcast journalism) and the Whitman School of Management (finance). After graduation, she pursued a TV news career in South Dakota, then switched to the public relations field in San Francisco. She took a leap of faith by going to work in public relations for startup company LinkedIn. She spent nearly seven years there working on corporate, consumer and trade communications and leading communications efforts worldwide related to LinkedIn's expansion into international markets, before transitioning to her current role as Vice President of Communications at Gogobot, which she called her “dream job.”

Canfield has been closely involved with the iSchool since 2012, when she joined the School’s Board of Advisors. While at LinkedIn, Canfield worked with the iSchool to regularly host students on the School’s Spring Break in Silicon Valley trip, where Syracuse University students are exposed to the startup and technology culture of California’s Bay Area. That tradition continues at Gogobot.