Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank returned to his alma mater Wednesday to deliver a speech to the 2016 graduating class of the University of Maryland. The theme of his speech was simple: Nothing trumps passion.
“Passion is the single most important thing you can have in your life going forward,” the 43-year-old Under Armour boss said during the commencement address.
Plank, who graduated from the school 20 years ago, spoke to the students during the school-wide commencement ceremony Wednesday, the first of three consecutive days dedicated to the school’s graduates.
During his speech, Plank referred to how his passion led to his eventual success and his definitions for the word. According to Plank, passion means finding a way, being entrepreneurial in anything you do, seizing your opportunities, developing and maintaining personal relationships, not embracing failure, and embracing the role of the underdog.
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Not only was 1996 the year Plank graduated — it was also the year he launched Under Armour. After 20 years in business, Plank’s vision in athletics has produced a digital fitness community boasting more than 170 million users, and a sponsored athlete roster featuring some of the biggest stars in sports, among them reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry, Masters-winning golfer Jordan Spieth and celebrated ballerina Misty Copeland.
The executive spoke with Footwear News earlier this month about the motivational quotes on his infamous whiteboard, the relentless plan to improve the health of Under Armour’s consumers and why industry innovation is “laughable” so far.