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Commencement speaker Marc Benioff urges grads to ‘do something for others’

Alumnus addresses thousands of members of the Trojan Family celebrating the Class of 2014

Merrill Balassoneby Merrill Balassone

“Don’t forget to do something for others.”

Marc Benioff first recalled hearing those life-changing words spoken from a spiritual guru in India. Decades later, he passed that wisdom on to graduates at USC’s 131st commencement on May 16.

Benioff, the CEO of San Francisco-based Salesforce.com, has been lauded not only as a pioneer in cloud computing and one of the country’s most respected CEOs, but also for his 1-1-1 plan, in which he took the Indian spiritual guru’s words to heart. His company operates under a policy that donates one percent of product, one percent of equity and one percent of employee hours back to the communities it serves.

“The real joy in life comes from giving, from service, from doing things for other people,” Benioff told the more than 40,000 graduates, families and friends gathered in Alumni Park. “Nothing will make you happier than giving.”

Benioff, a USC trustee who graduated from USC in 1986, cited Joelle Benioff, his mother who was honored as a member of the Half Century Trojans, as his reason for going to college at USC. (“Mom knows best,” he quipped).

Nothing will make you happier than giving.

Marc Benioff

Benioff was one of six global leaders who received honorary degrees, including B. Wayne Hughes, USC trustee and founder of Public Storage; Shonda L. Rhimes, USC alumna and creator of TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal; Phillip A. Sharp, a Nobel laureate whose findings have advanced understanding of the genetic causes of cancer and other diseases; James H. Simons, mathematician, philanthropist and founder of one of the world’s most successful hedge funds; and Twyla Tharp, one of America’s preeminent dancers and choreographers who has created more than 160 works.

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