What if you lived to be 100 years old?

JUNE 15, 2016 / Events


By Phil Muir, Regional Principal

What are the skills and attitudes you need to leave school with that will prepare you for a life in a world where technology is changing at a massive rate? 

It is estimated that the advances in technology over the next 10 years will be greater than those from the last 100 years. How will it be in 100 years’ time, and how can you futureproof yourself to be successful?

Researchers have done the sums and the reality is that one in three of today’s school age children – that’s most of you - will reach 100 years of age. 

That means many of you will potentially be working in the 22nd century. 100 years ago we invented the telephone. Back then they were very different. It was only 10 years ago that internet capable phones reached the consumer market. Today there are over 11 Billion devices connected to internet – 7 billion of which are mobile. Things are constantly advancing. 

The world’s current population is around 7.4 billion people and growing every year.   

So to be successful, and competitive with billions of people, you will need to develop a very specific set of skills and attitudes. Today’s graduates have displayed they have these skills and the potential to be change-making, problem solving, confident, connected life-long learners. To succeed at the level they have succeeded  they have shown focus, perception, stickability, expert self-directed learner skills, passion, commitment and embraced a genuinely willingness to push their boundaries and inspire others. 

Make good decisions. Learn from the bad ones. Take opportunities. 

15 years ago Yahoo had the opportunity to buy Google.  They thought it wouldn’t go anywhere – now Google is the most sought after company in the world to work for, and is valued at around 550 billion and increasing their value, while Yahoo is valued at around 50 billion, and decreasing. 

20 years ago a staff member of a world-leading company that had a monopoly on its corner of the market suggested producing a camera without film.  He was laughed out of the company.  That company was Kodak – the world’s largest buyer of silver and the world’s biggest biggest film maker – they are now bankrupt.  Some of you may never have seen print film. 

Less than a month ago, at Old Trafford football Stadium in England, there was an embarrassing and very costly event.  The stadium, home of the mighty Manchester United football club was packed with 75,000 fans waiting for the start of the last game of the premier league season.  People had travelled from across the UK and internationally to attend this game.   Players were on the turf, waiting to start the game.  Excitement was building and the singing and chanting was reaching its pre-game peak.  Terror suddenly filled the stadium as word of a bomb threat spread. A code red at the stadium was sounded. Everybody in the stadium was evacuated immediately and the game cancelled.

Police found the bomb. Only the bomb turned out to be a dummy bomb, a practice bomb, which had been left in the stadium by accident during a recent security training exercise. 

75,000 live fans, plus millions of TV watchers worldwide, were thoroughly disappointed and left out of pocket.

  • Did the people who were running the drill work as a team to cross check what each other was doing? 
  • Did they use communication skills and a little maths to count their practice bombs in and out? 
  • Did they run a lean process where they checked off what they did the day before and what was happening that day?  Did they use their inquiring minds?  If they couldn’t find a practice bomb that they had planted during a drill – how on earth would they find a real bomb? 
  • Did they even think?

Whatever you do for your job, whether you are planting practice bombs or selling cabbages, wheelchairs, ice with fruity bits in it or organic, ethically sourced coffee – have an eye for detail, don’t be sloppy and work with others to share responsibility and success. 


You’ve got to make an effort to succeed.  These graduating students have. 

We’re looking at the culmination of over 13 years of learning for those graduating today.  For those young ones out there listening – this will sound like a long time – like 100 years.  For those graduating – I bet you think that went quickly and are asking yourselves, where did the time go? That’s probably how you’ll feel at 100.

Recently I was fortunate enough to attend the southern hemisphere’s biggest education conference.  I listened and talked to many wonderful people doing great things in education.  I saw amazing technological devices but left with only one.  One which I was most surprised with. 

Back in 1662 a rather sensible, forward-thinking German inventor decided to wrap a stick of graphite in a thin wooden casing and mass produce it.  He did rather well out of the product on the commercial market.  It developed into a highly effective world-changing machine that can even write in space – and it’s called the pencil.  We still use them.  You can erase mistakes easily and they’re good for the environment. And the future. I bet that those of you who live to 100, which will be at least 700 of the current audience, will still be using these pencil inventions and scribbling on a piece of paper saying “remember at school we used to have those clunky old Thinkpad laptops … and cars that ran on stinky expensive petrol stuff …”

You don’t need to be old to have great ideas and be successful. You are actually most creative when you are young.  At the age of 14, Philo Farnsworth invented the television screen.  Frank Epperson was 11 when he invented the popsicle.  Blaise Pascal invented the mechanical calculator when he was 19.  At 18 Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.  At 15 Louis Braille invented Braille. 

So set your goals high – reach and surpass them and start sooner rather than later.  Follow in the footsteps of these fine graduants – then look at stretching their achievement to even greater heights.  Build great reputations and establish trust and integrity.

In a year of the Olympic games it’s fitting to make the analogy of you as academic athletes competing in the annual national assessment games – the tracking to date shows your academic performance is going well.  Olympic athletes would train for around 13 years before reaching a world class level – so those leaving school – go out there, listen to your coaches and break those records.  Be proud and push on regardless of season, weather or obstacles.  Have that bullet and bomb-proof growth mind-set and laser-like precision focus on being the best you can.   

Graduating with top results comes as a result of hard work, dedication, passion, and great goal setting. 

So develop a strong motivation and know that you’re part of a family of learners – a family of learners that places a huge emphasis on the value of thinking and education.

If you haven’t already, you should seek to develop a culture of constant improvement and have that can-do, will-do, no-blame attitude.  And while you’re there eat sensibly and exercise regularly and do lots of good stuff. 

Be proud, be confident. Inquire. Ask questions and listen properly and patiently.  Push boundaries and challenge yourself every day to be better than the previous day and build that air of respectful success. 

Read.  After all, in the immortal words of Dr Seuss - “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.

Each and every one of us has great opportunities and the ability to shine as yourself.  Let today’s graduating students set our compasses and direction to aim for success.  They have Learned to Learn. 

May the Westmount force be with you and remember your magic weavers who motivated, guided, inspired you when you need to dig deep.

When you are 100 years old you’ll look back on this day fondly as a very special day – the day you celebrated with your teachers, friends family and community. I know campuses are planning some very, very special events after this VC.  These campus concerts are a massive learning adventure in themselves – planning, practicsing, teamwork, patience, deadlines, people back stage, audio, visual and technical – so many people working together to make great things happen – these are real life opportunities to learn such valuable skills which employers are looking for so well done to each and every one of you has worked hard and taken the time to make today happen. 

A special thank you to Mr Brett Sloan, the Admin team at National Office and the Campus Principals, CSCs and great staff at campuses who work their magic to support making these things happen.   

An extra special congratulations to our top scholars who are recognised nationally today – well done. 

The very best wishes to all graduates and we look forward to watching and hearing of your future achievements.


Honouring success - Graduation Day review

2015 NCEA Achievement