BYU School of Communications students, professors and alumni joined together for a catered lunch and a motivational lecture on Friday, Sept. 20
Public relations graduate Abe Gong was the guest speaker at the Fall 2019 Beckham Lecture, a semi-annual lecture given by a communications alumni or professor to students. He is currently the CEO of Superconductive Health and was chosen for his innovations in healthcare research. Gong focused on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that guide individuals’ lives — both professionally and personally.
The once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that have happened in Gong’s life include his undergraduate education at BYU, his masters degree at the University of Michigan, various job opportunities and creating a family with his wife.
Gong noted that people typically say “seize the opportunity” when encouraging others to take chances that could lead to positive growth, but he argued that the word “seize” has a sudden, forcible and grasping feeling that inhibits personal responsibility for opportunities.
Instead, Gong believes that students should think of the phrase as “cultivate the opportunity.” As individuals seek to cultivate opportunities in their lives, they will create and shape life-changing trajectories and events.
A key step of cultivating opportunities is to rely on one’s surrounding community and network. As people interact with others in both their work and familial spheres, they will become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
“We all need a good feedback loop that can help us hone in and develop what we’re good at,” said Gong. “Choose those people carefully because they say you become a mix of the five people you spend the most time with.”
In addition to relying on one’s community and network, Gong believes that individuals must develop the love and skill of learning. He recognizes that a student’s BYU experience is the perfect time to “learn how to learn new things.”
“You get to learn multiple things and be a person with diverse opportunities and experiences,” said Gong.
One skill that Gong encouraged students to become proficient in to prepare for their careers after BYU is coding. In his experience in the communications field today, Gong has seen the overwhelming need to become literate in code.
“Code is a new form of literacy and it will touch everything that you do,” said Gong. “Literacy will open a lot of doors. I believe that if current trends continue, everyone who has an education will have some literacy in code in 200 years.”
In addition to work and family opportunities that need consistent attention, Gong taught that service opportunities need to be cultivated as well.
“There is a language and a community of service,” said Gong. “Take the time to learn the language that enables service. This will shape you. You will not just be a career-building person — you will be a person who looks to serve others and speak their language.”