Tonight at 8pm ET, the four major broadcast networks and multiple streaming sites will simultaneously air a live tribute entitled Graduate Together: America Honors the Class of 2020. The thousands of high school seniors who are missing out on their own live celebration would be wise to take lessons from this broadcast forward with them to college and beyond.

How could such a show, that features such dignitaries as President Obama, the Jonas Brothers, LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, Megan Rapinoe and others, be approved as a “roadblock” where the networks show the same thing at once? How could such a lineup come together within weeks? The answers provide a real-life lesson in the power of collaboration.

  • Graduate Together is sponsored by the Entertainment Industry Foundation – who just happens to have the four broadcast network executives on its board. Lesson: Choose the right partners and you can move mountains quickly.
  • There was an online petition naming President Obama as the most desired commencement speaker and requesting that he give the primary address to the class. Lesson: Involving those for whom the event is intended can be a compelling voice for action.
  • Ultimately, a partner executive who was a former employee of the President facilitated the outreach and connection. Lesson: Utilize your networks and cultivate relationships from your past that may prove beneficial in the future.
  • The program is sponsored by the LeBron James Family Foundation, XQ Institute and the Entertainment Industry Foundation – combining resources of those who work in the media, with high school students and with celebrities. Lesson: Create a broad coalition outside of your industry to pool a broad range of resources and connections.

I’m not sure that a one-hour show, no matter how special, will soothe any of the hurt or loss that this year’s seniors are experiencing but kudos to all who are trying to commemorate them in the only ways possible right now. Hopefully one of the speeches in this event will resonate with the graduates and the lessons learned from producing the event itself will take on new meaning in the days and years ahead – and will serve as a model for you as well of how to be nimble and make things happen in times of great change.       #GraduateTogether

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