INSIDE SOURCES

‘Don’t listen to the nos’ UVU commencement speaker tells students

May 3, 2024, 12:00 PM

utah valley university sign pictured, uvu freshman housing now available for first time...

A sign on the campus of Utah Valley University, where entrepreneur Jamie Kern Lima was a featured speaker for graduation. (Gabriel Mayberry/UVU Marketing)

(Gabriel Mayberry/UVU Marketing)

OREM, Utah — Graduation speakers tend to look out into crowds of hopeful people and offer an inspiring message to thousands who are about to step foot into the next stage of their lives.

So it was for Jamie Kern Lima, a featured speaker at Utah Valley University’s commencement on Thursday. But Lima said that she, too, was inspired by the UVU graduates.

Jamie Kern Lima (JamieKernLima.com)

It wasn’t long ago when Lima was attending her graduation from Washington State University, where she was the class valedictorian. She said one thing that made her speech at UVU very special was how many students were like her.

“It’s such a special group, over 10,000 students graduating in the class at UVU,” Lima told Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson. “And what I am particularly excited about (is that) over 3,000 of them are first-generation students, which I was as well when I graduated college.”

And a lot has happened for Lima since then, including co-founding IT Cosmetics and selling it to L’Oreal for more than $1 billion. That’s a bunch of big steps away from waitressing at Denny’s while she was in college.

But it was the days before her career as an entrepreneur that she wanted to share with UVU students. 

“I had a lot of self-doubt. And I also had big dreams,” she said. “But I didn’t know how to believe that my dreams would happen to someone like me.”

Don’t listen to the ‘nos’

Lima told UVU graduates that the beginning of her business was like that of so many other small business owners who eventually learn that, a great idea or great product aside, getting it to the next level takes a lot of work. And a lot of things that blocked her path.

“A lot of us are tempted to give up after one no or five nos or 20 nos,” she said. “Or, we start to let other people’s nos… turn into doubt in our own head.”

She credits her faith, and trusting herself, for keeping those thoughts at bay.

“For me, it’s definitely my faith,” Lima said. “But trusting that knowing inside of you over all the nos happening around you, I think can be the single biggest difference in stepping into the calling of your life versus doubting yourself out of your own destiny.”

Know why you’re striving for a goal

Another piece of advice for UVU’s 2024 grads from Lima? Know why you’re doing what you’re trying to do. When Lima was in the thick of building a cosmetics company, she said she wanted to shift the entire beauty industry toward being more inclusive of a lot of different types of women.

“Because my life growing up, I always kind of saw these Photoshopped images of beauty,” she said. “They always made me feel like I wasn’t enough.”

She says the “why” that people should look for is “a why that’s bigger than yourself.”

“It’s so much more powerful to have that,” Lima said. “It becomes a North Star on your journey.

Lima’s North Star led her to launch a business from her living room, building it to 1,000 employees, and then selling it for $1.2 billion.

Now she’s an author and entrepreneur. Still, she found inspiration in the students at UVU who are just starting out. 

“The youngest is 16 today, and the oldest is 71,” Lima said. “I am so inspired by that!”

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Inside Sources

Photo courtesy of Getty Images...

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‘Don’t listen to the nos’ UVU commencement speaker tells students