The Best Graduation Speeches of 2011

1. Stephen Colbert

Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what's going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.



"And we didn't have cell phones. If you made plans to meet someone in a snow storm, and they didn't show up, you just had to assume they were devoured by wolves and go on with your life."

Commencement Address at Northwestern University, 02 June 2011

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2. Sheryl Sandberg

Fortune does favor the bold, and I promise that you will never know what you're capable of unless you try.



"Don't let your fears overwhelm your desire. Let the barriers you face-and there will be barriers-be external, not internal. "

Commencement Address at Barnard College, 2011

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3. Denzel Washington

I found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks.



"You will never see a U-haul behind a hearse. You can't take it with you"

Commencement Address at University of Pennsylvania, 2011

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4. Amy Poehler

Don't treat your heart like an action figure wrapped in plastic and never used.



"I cannot stress enough that the answer to a lot of your life's questions is often in someone else's face. Try putting your iPhones down every once in a while and look at people's faces."

Harvard College Class Day Address May 25, 2011

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5. Arriana Huffington

"In life, the things that go wrong are often the very things that lead to other things going right.



Commencement Address at Sarah Lawrence College, 2011

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6. Connan O'Brien

Work hard, be kind and amazing things will happen.



"I am going to give you real, practical advice that you will need to know if you are going to survive the next few years.
* First, adult acne lasts longer than you think. I almost cancelled 2 days ago because I had a zit on my eye.
* Guys: this is important -- you cannot iron a shirt while wearing it
* If you live on Ramen Noodles for too long, you lose all feeling in your hands and your stool becomes a white gel.
* And finally, wearing colorful Converse high-tops beneath your graduation robe is a great way to tell your classmates that this is just the first of many horrible decisions you plan to make with your life. "

Commencement Address at Darmouth College
2011

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7. David Brooks

The message of the summoned life is that you donít need to panic if you donít yet know what you want to do with your life. But you probably want to throw yourselves into circumstances where the summons will come.



"I havenít given you much in the way of concrete practical advice. I could tell you that when you are thinking of marrying someone, one thing you should do is sneak up and startle them. The startle response is a very accurate predictor of that personís underlying temperament. I could tell you that when you have trouble making up your mind about something, tell yourself youíll settle it by flipping a coin. But donít go by how the coin flips; go by your emotional reaction to the coin flip. Are you happy or sad it came up heads or tails? That is your deepest self telling you what it wants. "

Commencement Address at Rice University in Houston
2011

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8. Fred Armisen

Avoid people who tell you that something you want to do is not possible.




Commencement Address at Oregon Episcopal High School
2011

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9. Twitter's Biz Stone

Lesson number one: opportunity can be manufactured. Yes, you can wait around for the right set of circumstances to fall into place and then leap into action but you can also create those set of circumstances on your own. In so doing, you manufacture your own opportunities. This has helped me immeasurably.

Commencement Address at Babson College
2011

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10. Coach Jim Steen

"My final coaching point of the day: It's my contention that in any given moment one lives one's life in one of two ways, either under a threat or for a challenge. In performing when it counts, it's one or the other, under a threat or for a challenge. If, as Einstein says, "Imagination will take you everywhere," then living your life under a threat will take you nowhere.

Commencement Address at Kenyon College
2011

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