The Best Career Advice from 2018 Commencement Speeches
The power of words is awesome. A well-executed speech can move us to tears, elation, and action. This year’s college graduation commencement speeches offer a wealth of hard-won advice, empowering real life experience, inspirational guidelines. Those chosen to deliver remarks to the Class of ‘18 pack a motivational punch. Read on for the best of their profound, parting messages:
Jim Cramer, Bucknell University
“It’s ok to fail, but its not ok to quit. You have more strength within you both physical and mental than you know."
WOMEN, STAND UP
Abby Wambach, legendary soccer player, Barnard College 2018 Commencement Address
"Women are learning we can be grateful for what we have and also demand what we deserve. Like all little girls, I was taught to be grateful. I was taught to keep my head down, stay on the path, and get my job done. I was freaking 'Little Red Riding Hood.' The message is clear: Don't be curious, don't make trouble, don't say too much, or bad things will happen. I stayed on the path out of fear, not of being eaten by a wolf, but of being cut, being benched, losing my paycheck. If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing, it would be this: 'Abby, you were never Little Red Riding Hood, you were always the wolf.' Barnard women class of 2018, we are the wolves."
ON KINDNESS IN THE WORKPLACE
Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani founder and CEO, Wharton MBA Graduation
"In business school you learn about ROI – return on investment. You should also learn about ROK – return on kindness. With ROK you can immediately see results. In five years, we went from five people to more than 2000 people. We went from 0 sales to more than a billion in sales. We went from nowhere to the top brand in America. Any case study would tell you it was impossible. But if you believe in people you work with and listen to them and learn from the and give them a reason to believe in you, everything is possible. You might be an MBA, just don’t act like one. Acknowledging the sacrifice of others that enable you to be in this position does not diminish sacrifices that you made on your own. Ask others for advice no matter what their job is. Really listen to their answers."
Mindy Kaling, actor, director, writer, Dartmouth College
“You have to have insane confidence in yourself, even if it’s not real. You need to be your own cheerleader now, because there isn’t a room full of people waiting with pom‑poms to tell you, 'You did it! We’ve been waiting all this time for you to succeed!'
Jimmy Fallon, Parkland High school, Parkland, Florida
“When something feels hard, remember that it gets better. Choose to move forward and don’t let anything stop you. Every bad experience can have something good come out of it. Keep making good choices. We have no idea what the future holds and that’s OK. Don’t get too hung up on it. Don’t think about what you want to do. Think about why you want to do it and the rest will figure itself out. I love what I do. I get to tell jokes and make people laugh and it’s awesome. People always ask me what’s the best part of your job and I tell them, I get to make people happy.”
Josh Groban, High Point University
“The arsenal of instincts that we accumulate with time – we don’t have that when we’re young. Just nerves. Every day the first few years of my career I felt like I was faking it. I was crushing it on stage, but off stage I was a ball of doubt. That is natural. It is human, and it is okay. Just plough through it. As you choose opportunities, remember – if you aren’t scared, be worried."
Oprah Winfrey, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
“Put your honor where your mouth is. When you give your word, keep it. Show up, do the work, get your hands dirty. And then you’ll be able to draw strength from the understanding that history is still being written. You’re writing it every day. What you do or what you don’t do will be a part of it. You build a legacy not from one thing, but from everything. You have no idea what your legacy will be, because your legacy is every life you touch. ... Know that what you post or tweet about on Instagram might be asked about in a job interview tomorrow. Or twenty years from tomorrow.”
“It’s better to be interested than interesting. Your job is not always going to fulfill you There will be some days when you might just be bored. Other days you might not feel like going to work at all. Go anyway. Remember that your job is not who you are. It’s just what you’re doing on the way ... to who you will become. ... Become so skilled, so vigilante, so flat out fantastic at what you do that your talent can not be dismissed. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You’re only on this planet to be you, not someone else’s imitation of you.”
ON THE POWER OF GOOD IDEAS
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, MIT
“It’s not enough to have a good idea. You have to know when to stop a bad one. This is hard because technology changes faster than society. We’re in one of the most remarkable moments in human history. Many of you will work on technologies that will change the world. We are not passive observers of these changes. Trends are the results of choices people make. We have a duty of care. You have the responsibility to course correct. We are accountable to the people who use what we build. You have an obligation to never shy away from doing the right thing.”
Chance the Rapper, Dillard University
"Create new moves. We cannot revere anyone so much that we become afraid to reach their heights or grow past them. Living up to your heroes is amazing. But not good enough. The difference between goodness and greatness, is you have to surpass greatness in order to pay homage to their struggle.”
ON HOPE AND CHANGE
Tim Cook, CEO Apple, Duke University
“No generation has ever had more power than yours. And no generation has had the power to change things faster that yours can. Aided by technology, every individual has the tools, potential and reach to build a better world. That makes this the best time in history to be alive. Whatever you choose to do with your life – I urge you to take the power you’ve been given and use it for good. Aspire to leave this world better than you had it. The greatest challenge of life is knowing when to break with conventional wisdom. Don’t just accept the status quo. No big challenge has ever been solved unless people dared to try something different. Dare to think different.”
Sterling K. Brown, Stanford University
“When I feel fear, as uncomfortable as it may be, I know I’m in the right place. Whether you’re 22 or 42, never let fear keep you from expanding your definition of yourself.”