"The great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself."- DAVID MC.CULLOUGH JR.
Last year I compiled one of the best 2013 Commencement Speakers List. The year went by and here I am, busy gathering data about this year's Spring Graduation invited speakers. The list is growing every day so come back and see who are the most talked about 2014 Commencement Speakers.
They're here! A wonderful new 'crop' of commencement addresses with inspirational words and memorable advice. It's not easy to write and deliver a memorable commencement address. Expectations are high, the pressure is big, and these days, social media is so prompt to tax those that bore us with platitudes. Still, every year, out of over a thousand given, a few rise to the top to become the year's most notable.
6 rules of success.
RULE # 5. Don't wait to be invited. Create opportunities and get in the game.
collection of the best commencement speeches. And don't be scared; there is great opportunity awaiting for you. 2013's top commencement speaker George Saunders and 2012's top two commencement speakers, Neil Gaiman and David McCullough Jr., all landed book deals following their outstanding commencement addresses. Good luck!
▫ Meryl Streep, Academy Award Winning Acctress
▫ Julianna Margulies, Academy Award Winning Acctress
▫ Anthony Corvino, Undergraduate Student
▫ Conan O'Brien, TV Show host
▫ David Brooks, NYT columnist and author
▫ Denzel Washington, Actor
▫ Arianna Huffington, Author and syndicated columnist
▫ Meredith Vieira, journalist and TV show host
▫ Jonathan Youshaei, highschool graduate speaker
▫ Ellen DeGeneres, comedian
▫ Marissa Mayers, CEO at Yahoo Inc.
Lost Commencement SpeechesIn the YouTube age, quite a few of the best speeches are taped and can be shared and enjoyed by many others. Unfortunately, as little as seven years ago this was not possible and some of the most wonderful and inspirational convocation speeches have been lost and there is no online transcript available. Such is the case with a commencement speech by one my favorite authors, Joan Didion, at University of California in 1975. Luckily, one of the simply most breathtaking advice from her speech was made available in a NYT article.
"I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it."
- JOAN DIDION, Commencement Speech at University of California, 1975.
The commencement speeches archive has now reached almost 150 speeches. Back when I started this site in 2006 I used to know every speech in depth. As the years went by and more platitude-free and advice-bounty commencement addresses surfaced it's becoming harder to remember all these speeches I curate here and easy to forget some the most wonderful nuggets of wisdom they have. In this section, I will highlight a past commencement speech that I found smart and funny and some of its most memorable quotes. As always, each speech is worth reading in its entirety so if you have five minutes click on the link and read the entire transcript from actor Alan Alda given back in, yes, 1980! You will not believe how much of this advice holds true even today. That is why these speeches deserve to be remembered, to be preserved and to be shared.
"As I get older, the only thing that speeds up is time."
"Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won't come in."
"The soup of civilized life is a nourishing stew but it doesn't keep bubbling on its own. Put something back in the pot as you leave for the people in line behind you."
"Don't ever aim your doubt at yourself. Laugh at yourself, but don't doubt yourself. Whenever you wonder about yourself, look up at the stars swirling around in the heavens and just realize how tiny and puny they are. They're supposed to be gigantic explosions and they're just these insignificant little dots. If you step back from things far enough you realize how important and powerful you are. Be bold. Let the strength of your desire give force and moment to your every step. Move with all of yourself. When you embark for strange places don't leave any of yourself safely on shore.""You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing, but what you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself. "
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