My Favorite Commencement Speech

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It’s graduation time again, and I’ve heard more than my share of cheesy commencement speeches in my life. But here is one by Steve Jobs that I really enjoyed.

Here is the text of the speech as well, but Jobs is a good speaker so I’d recommend listening to it. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes summary:

You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma ? which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Weird fact about me: Even before hearing this speech, I would think about my mortality in order to keep things in perspective during stressful times. It really helps to strip away the fluff, and helps you do scary things like change career directions or ask that pretty girl or boy down the hall out 😀

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  1. Rich Minx says

    Gather ye rosebuds/blue chips while ye may…

  2. Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you – just one word.
    Ben: Yes sir.
    Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
    Ben: Yes I am.
    Mr. McGuire: ‘Plastics.’

  3. I’m 1 month away from graduating from Stanford and still read that speech every now and then to remind me not to get caught up in pursuits that are not fulfilling just for the sake of doing them. Hopefully, I won’t, and I highly suggest listening to the whole speech for anyone not just soon-to-be grads. Great post!

  4. goldnsilver says

    Good Speech. Thanks for sharing.

  5. There’s a certain amount of rationale and sensibility that actually ‘pays off’ when doing the “scary” stuff in life.

    I use this site……..

    …… a great (if not comedic) ballast for all of the “I believe I can fly” mentalities of those who’ve watched one too many Rocky movies in their lifetime.


  6. A little cheesy, but universally applicable. I like the line:

    “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right”

    Well put… Life is short, you gotta do what you love to do.

  7. I really don’t like Steve Jobs too much, but the speech was inspiring and well delivered.

  8. Steve Austin says

    Steve Jobs, posterchild for survivorship bias.

  9. Although it?s a bit off topic, I just graduated yesterday (still can’t believe I’m done, but anyway) and we had Soledad O’Brien as our speaker. She not so much gave advice but instead recounted interviews with people that did great things or had to make tough choices. It was a bit cheesy when she started off about her mom but gets better toward the end. If anyone is interested: it is the undergrad video and about 1h and 4 min into the graduation. The rest of it was pretty boring so just skip it.

  10. sfordinarygirl says

    I loved the line about how windows copied Macs but we wouldn’t have personal computers if it didn’t happen.

    It’s a very inspiring speech and especially the part about not settling is important. I’m being more careful and selective about jobs I want instead of settling for a paycheck. I didn’t realize how I settled for a job I hated and every day all I think about is leaving. Life’s too short to spend doing something awful and uninteresting.

    I emailed the link to my 14-year-old sister who’s going to be graduating from junior high school. Hopefully she’ll find it some comfort listening to it as she’s experiencing her own crisis about what to do with her life, college, SAT’s all while having to keep up with friends at school and pleasing parents.

  11. Steve Jobs, posterchild for survivorship bias.


    You certainly have to take stock of your life, don’t get sucked into doing what you hate, and be prepared to take some risk, but just doing what Steve Jobs did doesn’t mean you’ll end up like Steve Jobs.

    The immensely successful business leaders, sports stars, and politicians that universities love to have for commencement addresses have all had VERY unusual careers. In most cases, they’ve taken (knowingly or unknowingly) enormous risks. You’re listening to the people whose risk-taking paid off. You don’t see the guy who had a great business idea but timed it wrong and went bankrupt, the basketball player that didn’t quite make the NBA, or the politician who got voted out of the latest municipal elections because the universities don’t want them as speakers. They exist.

    Take what they say with a grain of salt. They’re all successful, but they’re not necessarily wise, and they may have little idea what it’s like to be middle class and have to save for retirement and pay the mortgage. It may have been a great idea for them to take all their retirement money and sink it into a single startup business venture, but I wouldn’t suggest it for everyone.

  12. That’s actually a wonderful speech. It’s hilarious when he said:

    “how can you be fired by the company you founded”.

    It’s very inspirational. Thanks for sharing!

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