It’s graduation season, and many universities are hosting famous and successful personalities to speak to about their experiences and to inspire the next generation of leaders. After accomplishing so much, these people have valuable life lessons to share with young graduates, and with the entire world, in fact. Here’s a look at probably the most famous and poignant of those who gave inspiring commencement speeches in 2013 (up until now! schools not out yet for everyone).
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo,
University of Michigan
Long before Twitter or any of the 20 other companies he headed, Dick Costolo was an Improv actor and from this he learned that in life “there is no script, live your life, be in this moment, be in this moment, be in this moment.”
Since there is no way to plan the impact you will have, Costolo advises: “If you put yourself out there you will have an impact” and “create a habit of taking chances on yourself and making bold choices in service to doing what you love (not what you think is expected of you)”.
LinkedIn’s Billionaire Founder, Reid Hoffman
Although not an actual commencement speech, Hoffman did publish an online slideshow presentation called “The 3 Secrets of Highly Successful Graduates” for this year’s grads which highlights the best advice from his book “The Start-up of You” (co-written with entrepreneur Ben Casnocha).
Hoffman’s says to graduates, “develop your competitive advantage, build your network, and take intelligent risks.” Basically telling them to stand out from the crowd, establish productive relationships with others and to recognize smart risks from silly ones.
44th President of The U.S.A., Barak Obama,
Ohio State University
President Obama asks graduates to do two things; “to participate and to persevere”, meaning that this generation needs to join in the democratic process of self-government and strive to make change and impact the world, as well as realize that nothing happens overnight. “Don’t give up your passion if things don’t work out right away”, and don’t give in to cynicism, “the cynics may be the loudest voices, but I promise you they will accomplish the least”.
Stephen Colbert from “The Colbert Show”,
University of Virginia
Colbert’s laugh-packed speech addressed the widespread notion that today’s young generation is completely self-obsessed, but claims that so was his “Baby-Boomers” generation, even more so; Graduates should not listen to this criticism and simply choose the path that “leads to the life and the world that you want and don’t worry if we don’t approve of your choices because you do not owe the previous generation anything. Thanks to us you owe to the Chinese.”
World Bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim,
Dr. Kim had no idea that his past experiences would lead him to the influential position he holds today, but by embracing “completely unexpected opportunities” along the way and learning to “set bold goals, deliberately and consciously build will power, and use time well” he is now head of an organization that is responsible for the shaping and improving the lives of millions on our planet.
His most powerful advice comes at the very end of his address when he urges graduates: “don’t fear uncertainty, embrace it, use it. Uncertainty means that nothing is predetermined… that the future is yours to shape… uncertainty is freedom, take that freedom and run with it.”