“Start near, go far,” is printed on banners hanging from lampposts along the road that runs through the campus of Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Mass.

The college’s 2010 commencement speaker, Joyce Landry, is the embodiment of that advice. Since growing up in bucolic Gardner, 60 miles west of Boston, Landry has traveled to six continents, shaken hands with two U.S. presidents, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (and got married at the summit), and founded a $30 million company.

That company, Landry & Kling, is well known in the meetings industry. Pioneering the use of cruise ships for meetings, Landry & Kling has continued to innovate, working with international organizations and events to book cruise ships as floating hotels. In recognition of their 27 years of achievement, both women were inducted into the Cruise Line International Association Hall of Fame in 2009.

The Dream Begins
Landry’s first job, though, involved filing brochures at the local travel agency. “And, being a curious person, I read them,” she recalled during her commencement address May 20. That led to a degree in travel and tourism followed by her dream job, working for Holland America Line. By age 27, she had met her business partner, Josephine Kling, developed the cruise brokerage idea, and opened an office on Madison Avenue with little money and no clients.

She told the grads there were two reasons she took that risk. First, she thought she could do it because she surrounded herself with other people who thought she could do it (advice: “steer clear of people who are negative”). And second, she and Kling had “an unwavering commitment” to their concept (advice: “if you believe strongly in an idea, stick with it”).

A Life of Magic
Borrowing a prop that anyone who has seen Jo Kling at a trade show would recognize—a twinkling, jingling, colorful magic wand—Landry waved it in the air and encouraged the graduates to aim for a life of meaning that “makes you jump out of bed in the morning.” How to have that “magic” life? Here’s Landry’s eight-step guide:

1. “Find delight in everyday things.” That often means looking up from your laptop and cell phone. “Go outside,” she said. “Give your brain a rest.”

2. Participate. Don’t play it safe. Do things that are scary. “You want a life that goes up and down and everywhere,” Landry said. “If you reach for the highs, then, yes, it will open up the lows. But you need those moments in order to grow.”

3. Landry quoted Winston Churchill on getting through tough times: “If you’re going through hell,” he said, “keep going.” Even, Landry added, if it’s just putting one foot in front of the other.

4. Take care of your playing piece—you—because you only get one.

5. Be ready for adventure. “Get a passport,” she advised. “Be a citizen of the globe. That creates tolerance and understanding.”

6. “Be grateful. Give thanks for a few moments each day and ask for guidance. When you ask for guidance, you will get it. Happiness is not getting what you want but wanting what you have.”

7. “Make money for the right reason—for what you can do with it, not what you can buy with it.”

8. “Give generously,” said Landry. “The secret to prosperity is generosity. The more you give, the more you get. Forgive someone. Tell people how much they mean to you. Say yes when someone asks you for help.”

She concluded her address to the Mount Wachusett class of 2010 with an appropriate analogy for a cruise industry luminary: “A boat that doesn’t rock goes nowhere. Go out and rock your world!”