Filipino Public Speaker in the Philippines

Examples of Public Speaking Contents

Here are the examples of public speaking contents and how they are delivered based on our assumed speaking brand archetypes of each speaker. 

'The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination'

Text as delivered.

President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.

The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest Gryffindor reunion.

Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, the law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.

You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step to self improvement.

Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that have expired between that day and this.

I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These may seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.

Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.

I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension. I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil, now.

So they hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.

I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all the subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.

At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.

So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

Now you might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working at the African research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to speak against their governments. Visitors to our offices included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had left behind.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him back to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just had to give him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard, and read.

And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.

Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble, people who have been kind enough not to sue me when I took their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.

So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom: As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters. I wish you all very good lives. Thank-you very much.

Conan O'Brien Delivers The 2011 Dartmouth Commencement Address

Before I begin, I must point out that behind me sits a highly admired President of the United States and decorated war hero while I, a cable television talk show host, has been chosen to stand here and impart wisdom.  I pray I never witness a more damning example of what is wrong with America today.

Graduates, faculty, parents, relatives, undergraduates, and old people that just come to these things —-Good morning and congratulations to the Dartmouth Class of 2011.  Today, you have achieved something special —– something only 92 percent of Americans your age will ever know:  a college diploma.   That’s right, with your college diploma you now have a crushing advantage over 8 percent of the workforce.  I’m talking about dropout losers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg.   Incidentally, speaking of Mr. Zuckerberg, only at Harvard would somebody have to invent a massive social network just to talk with someone in the next room.

My first job as your commencement speaker is to illustrate that life is not fair.  For example, you have worked tirelessly for four years to earn the diploma you’ll be receiving this weekend, and Dartmouth is giving me the same degree for interviewing the fourth lead in Twilight.  Deal with it.  Another example that life is not fair: if it does rain, the powerful rich people on stage get the tent. Deal with it.

I would like to thank President Kim for inviting me here today.  After my phone call with President Kim, I decided to find out a little bit about the man.  He goes by President Kim and Dr. Kim.  To his friends, he’s Jim Kim, J to the K, Special K, JK Rowling, the Just Kidding Kimster, and most puzzling, “Stinky Pete.”  He served as the chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, spearheaded a task force for the World Health Organization on Global Health Initiatives, won a MacArthur Genius Grant and was one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2006.  Good God, man, what the hell are you compensating for?  Seriously.  We get it; you’re smart.  By the way Dr. Kim, you were brought to Dartmouth to lead, and as a world-class anthropologist, you were also hired to figure out why each of these graduating students ran around a bonfire 111 times.  

But I thank you for inviting me, Stinky Pete, and it is an honor to be here.   Though some of you may see me as a celebrity, you should know that I once sat where you sit.  Literally.  Late last night I snuck out here and sat in every seat.  I did it to prove a point —- I am not bright and I have a lot of free time.

But this is a wonderful occasion and it is great to be here in New Hampshire, where I am getting an honorary degree and all the legal fireworks I can fit in the trunk of my car. 

New Hampshire is such a special place.   When I arrived I took a deep breath of this crisp New England air and thought, “Wow, I’m in the state that’s next to the state where Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is made.”  

But don’t get me wrong, I take my task today very seriously.  When I got the call 2 months ago to be your speaker, I decided to prepare with the same intensity many of you have devoted to an important term paper.  So late last night, I began.  I drank two cans of Red Bull, snorted some Adderall, played a few hours of Call of Duty, and then opened my browser.  I think Wikipedia put it best when they said “Dartmouth college is a private Ivy League University in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States.”  Thank you and good luck.   

To communicate with you students today, I have gone to great lengths to become well-versed in your unique linquistic patterns.  In fact, just this morning I left Baker Berry with my tripee Barry to eat a Billy Bob at the Bema when my flitz to Francesca was Blitz jacked by some d-bag on his FSP.    

Yes, I’ve done my research.  This college was named after the Second Earl of Dartmouth, a good friend of the Third Earl of UC Santa Cruz and the Duke of the Barbazon School of Beauty.  Your school motto is “Vox Clamantis in Deserto,” which means “Voice Crying Out in the Wilderness.”  This is easily the most pathetic school motto I have ever heard.  Apparently, it narrowly beat out “Silently Weeping in Thick Shrub” and “Wimpering in Moist Leaves without Pants.”   Your school color is green, and this color was chosen by Frederick Mather in 1867 because, and this is true, “it was the only color that had not been taken already.” I cannot remember hearing anything so sad.  Dartmouth, you have an inferiority complex, and you should not. You have graduated more great fictitious Americans than any other college.  Meredith Grey of Grey’s Anatomy.  Pete Campbell from Mad Men.  Michael Corleone from The Godfather.  In fact, I look forward to next years’ Valedictory Address by your esteemed classmate, Count Chocula.  Of course, your greatest fictitious graduate is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner.  Man, imagine if a real Treasury Secretary made those kinds of decisions.   Oh, I know.  You’re going to say “We’ve got Dr. Seuss.” Well guess what, we’re all tired of hearing about Dr. Seuss.   Face it: The man rhymed fafloozle with saznoozle.  In the literary community, that’s called cheating.  

Your insecurity is so great, Dartmouth, that you don’t even think you deserve a real podium.  What the hell is this thing?  It looks like you stole it from the set of Survivor: Nova Scotia.  Seriously, it looks like something a bear would use at an AA meeting.   

No, Dartmouth, you must stand tall.  Raise your heads high and feel proud.  

Because if Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are your self-involved, vain, name-dropping older brothers, you are the cool, sexually confident, Lacrosse playing younger sibling who knows how to throw a party and looks good in a down vest.  Brown, of course, is your lesbian sister who never leaves her room.  And Penn, Columbia, and Cornell …..well, frankly, who gives a shit.

Yes, I’ve always had a special bond with this school.  In fact, this is my second time coming here.   When I was 17 years old and touring colleges, way back in the fall of 1980, I came to Dartmouth.  Dartmouth was a very different place back then.  I made the trip up from Boston on a mule and, after asking the blacksmith in West Leb for directions, I came to this beautiful campus.  No dormitories had been built yet, so I stayed with a family of fur traders in White River junction.  It snowed heavily during my visit and I was trapped here for four months.  I was forced to eat the mule, who a week earlier had been forced to eat the fur traders.  Still, I loved Dartmouth and I vowed to return.

But fate dealt a heavy blow.   With no money, I was forced to enroll in a small, local commuter school, a pulsating sore on a muddy elbow of the Charles River.  I was a miserable wretch, and to this day I cannot help but wonder:  What if I had gone to Dartmouth?

If I had gone to Dartmouth, I might have spent at least some of my college years outside and today I might not be allergic to all plant life, as well as most types of rock.

If I had gone to Dartmouth, right now I’d be wearing a fleece thong instead of a lace thong.

If I had gone to Dartmouth, I still wouldn’t know the second verse to “Dear Old Dartmouth.”  Face it, none of you do; you all mumble that part.

If I had gone to Dartmouth, I’d have a liver the size and consistency of a bean bag chair. 

Finally, if I had gone to Dartmouth, today I’d be getting an honorary degree at Harvard.  Imagine how awesome that would be.

You are a great school, and you deserve a historic commencement address.   That’s right, I want my message today to be forever remembered because it changed the world.   To do this, I must suggest groundbreaking policy. Winston Churchill gave his famous “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College in 1946.  JFK outlined his nuclear disarmament policy at American University in 1963.  And today, I would like to set forth my own policy here at Dartmouth: I call it The Conan Doctrine.  Under The Conan Doctrine:

  • All bachelor degrees will be upgraded to masters degrees, all masters degrees will be upgraded to PhD’s, and all MBA students will be immediately transferred to a white collar prison.
  • Winter Carnival will become Winter Carnivale and be moved to Rio.  Clothing will be optional and all expenses will be paid by the Alumni Association.
  • Your nickname, the Big Green, will be changed to something more kick-ass like “The Jade Blade,” the “Seafoam Avenger” or simply “Lime-Zilla.”
  • The D-Plan and “quarter system” will finally be updated to “the one sixty-fourth system.”  Semesters will last 3 days and students will be encouraged to take 48 semesters off.  They must, however, be on campus during their Sophomore 4th of July.
  • I will re-instate Tubestock.  And I will punish those who tried to replace it with Fieldstock.  Rafting and beer are a much better combination than a field and a beer.  I happen to know that in two years, they were going to downgrade Fieldstock to Deskstock —  7 hours of fun sitting quietly at your desk.  Don’t let those bastards do it!

And finally, under the Conan doctrine, all commencement speakers who shamelessly pander with cheap, inside references designed to get childish applause, will be forced to apologize…..TO THE GREATEST GRADUATING CLASS IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.   DARTMOUTH CLASS OF 2011 RULES!!!

Besides policy, another hallmark of great commencement speeches is deep, profound advice like “reach for the stars.”  Well today, I am not going to waste your time with empty clichés.  Instead, 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.

Of course there are many parents here and I have real advice for them as well.  Parents, write this down:

  • Many of you haven’t seen your children in four years.  Now you are about to see them every day when they come out of the basement to tell you the WiFi isn’t working.
  • If your child majored in Fine Arts or Philosophy, you have good reason to be worried.  The only place where they are really now qualified to get a job is ancient Greece.
  • The traffic today on East Wheelock is going to be murder, so once they start handing out diplomas, you should slip out in the middle of the K’s.
  • You will spend more money framing your child’s diploma than they will earn in the next six months.  It’s tough out there, so be patient.  The only people hiring right now are Panera Bread and Mexican drug cartels.  

Yes, you parents must be patient because it is indeed a grim job market out there.  And one of the reasons that it’s so tough finding work is that aging baby boomers refuse to leave their jobs..  Trust me on this.  Even when they promise you for five years that they are going to leave….and say it on television — I mean you can go on YouTube right now and watch the guy do it…there is no guarantee they won’t come back.   Of course I’m speaking generally.

But enough.  This is not a time for grim prognostications or negativity.  No, I came here today because, believe it or not, I actually do have something real to tell you.

Eleven years ago I gave an address to a graduating class at Harvard.  I have not spoken at a graduation since because I thought I had nothing left to say.  But then 2010 came.   And now I’m here, three thousand miles from my home, because I learned a hard but profound lesson last year and I’d like to share it with you.   In 2000, I told graduates “Don’t be afraid to fail.”  Well now I’m here to tell you that, though you should not fear failure, you should do your very best to avoid it.   Nietzsche famously said “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  But what he failed to stress is that IT ALMOST KILLS YOU.  Disappointment stings and, for driven, successful people like yourselves it is disorienting.  What Nietzsche should have said is  “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you watch a lot of Cartoon Network and drink mid-price Chardonnay at 11 in the morning. “ 

By definition, Commencement speakers at an Ivy League college are considered successful.  But a little over a year ago, I experienced a profound and very public disappointment.  I did not get what I wanted, and I left a system that had nurtured and help define me for the better part of seventeen years.  I went from being in the center of the grid to not only off the grid, but underneath the coffee table that the grid sits on, lost in the shag carpeting that is underneath the coffee table supporting the grid.  It was the making of a career disaster, and a terrible analogy.

But then something spectacular happened.  Fogbound, with no compass, and adrift, I started trying things.  I grew a strange, cinnamon beard.  I dove into the world of social media and started tweeting my comedy.  I threw together a national tour.  I played the guitar, did stand-up, wore a skin-tight blue leather suit, recorded an album, made a documentary, and frightened my friends and family.   Ultimately, I abandoned all preconceived perceptions of my career path and stature and took a job on basic cable with a network most famous for showing re-runs, along with sitcoms created by a tall, black man who dresses like an old, black woman.  I did a lot of silly, unconventional, spontaneous and seemingly irrational things and guess what —- with the exception of the blue leather suit, it was the most satisfying and fascinating year of my professional life.  To this day I still don’t understand exactly what happened, but I have never had more fun, been more challenged, and this is important —- had more conviction about what I was doing.

How could this be true?  It’s simple: there are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized.  I went to college with many people who prided themselves on knowing exactly who they were and exactly where they were going.  At Harvard, five different guys told me that they would one day be President of the Unites States.  Four of them were later killed in motel shoot-outs.   The other one briefly hosted “Blues Clues,” before dying senselessly in yet another motel shoot-out.   Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42.  One’s dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course.  This happens in every job, but because I have worked in comedy for twenty five years, I can speak best about my own profession.

Way back in the 1940’s there was a very funny man named Jack Benny.  He was a giant star and easily one of the greatest comedians of his generation.  And a much younger man named Johnny Carson wanted very much to be Jack Benny.  In some ways he was, but in many ways he wasn’t.  He emulated Jack Benny, but his own quirks and mannerisms, along with a changing medium, pulled him in a different direction.  And yet his failure to completely become his hero made him the funniest person of his generation.  David Letterman wanted to be Johnny Carson, and was not, and as a result my generation of comedians wanted to be David Letterman.   And none of us are — my peers and I have all missed that mark in a thousand different ways.  But the point is this: It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.  It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can be a catalyst for profound re-invention.

So, at the age of 47, after 25 years of obsessively pursuing my dream, that dream changed.  For decades, in show business, the ultimate goal of every comedian was to host The Tonight Show.  It was the Holy Grail, and like many people I thought that achieving that goal would define me as successful.   But that is not true.  No specific job or career goal defines me and it should not define you.  In 2000, I told graduates to not be afraid to fail, and I still believe that.  But today I tell you that whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come.  The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.

Many of you here today are getting your diploma at this Ivy League school because you have committed yourself to a dream and worked hard to achieve it.  And there is no greater cliché in a commencement address than “follow your dream.”  Well I am here to tell you that whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change.  And that’s okay.  Four years ago, many of you had a specific vision of what your college experience was going to be and who you were going to become.  And I bet, today, most of you would admit that your time here was very different from what you imagined.  Your roommates changed, your major changed, for some of you your sexual orientation changed.   I bet some of you have changed your sexual orientation since I began this speech.  I know I have.  But through the good and especially the bad, the person you are now is someone you could never have conjured in the fall of 2007.

I have told you many things today, most of it foolish but some of it true.  I’d like to end my address by breaking a taboo and quoting myself from 17 months ago.  At the end of my final program with NBC, just before signing off, I said “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen. “ Today, receiving this honor and speaking to the Dartmouth Class of 2011 from behind a tree-trunk, I have never believed that more.

Thank you very much, and congratulations.

Jim Carrey’s Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation (Full Transcript)

Thank you. What are you sitting down for! I was going to milk that for a while. You guys can stretch that out at post, right? To make that longer in the edit.

Thank you, Bevan, thank you all!

I brought one of my paintings to show you today. I hope you guys are going to be able see it okay. It’s not one of my bigger pieces. So you might want to move down front — to get a good look at it.

Faculty, parents, friends, dignified guests — Graduating Class of 2014, and all the dead baseball players coming out of the corn to be with us today. After the harvest there’s no place for them to hide — the fields are empty — there is no cover there.

I am here to plant a seed today – a seed that will inspire you to move forward in life with enthusiastic hearts and a clear sense of wholeness. The question is, will that seed have a chance to take root, or will I be sued by Monsanto and forced to use their seed, which may not be totally Ayurvedic.

Excuse me if I seem a little low energy tonight — today — whatever this is. I slept with my head to the North last night. Oh man! Oh man! You know how that is, right kids? Woke up right in the middle of Pitta and couldn’t get back to sleep till Vata rolled around, but I didn’t freak out. I used that time to eat a large meal and connect with someone special on Tinder.

Because life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you. How do I know this? I don’t, but I’m making sound, and that’s the important thing. That’s what I’m here to do. Sometimes, I think that’s one of the only thing that’s important, really. Just letting each other know we’re here, reminding each other that we are part of a larger self. I used to think Jim Carrey is all that I was…

Just a flickering light, a dancing shadow, the great nothing masquerading as something you can name, seeking shelter in caves and foxholes, dug out hastily, an archer searching for his target in the mirror, wounded only by my own arrows, begging to be enslaved, pleading for my chains, blinded by longing and tripping over paradise — can I get an Amen?

You didn’t think I could be serious, did ya’? I don’t think you understand who you’re dealing with. I have no limits. I cannot be contained because I’m the container. You can’t contain the container, man! You can’t contain the container!

I used to believe that who I was ended at the edge of my skin, that I had been given this little vehicle called a body from which to experience creation, and though I couldn’t have asked for a sportier model, it was after all a loaner and would have to be returned. Then, I learned that everything outside the vehicle was a part of me, too, and now I drive a convertible. Top down wind in my hair!

I am elated and truly, truly, truly excited to be present and fully connected to you at this important moment in your journey. I hope you’re ready to open the roof and take it all in?! Okay, four more years then!


I want to thank the Trustees, Administrators and Faculty of MUM for creating an institution worthy of Maharishi’s ideals of education. A place that teaches the knowledge and experience necessary to be productive in life, as well as enabling the students, through Transcendental Meditation and ancient Vedic knowledge to slack off twice a day for an hour and a half!! — don’t think you’re fooling me! — but, I guess it has some benefits. It does allow you to separate who you truly are and what’s real, from the stories that run through your head.

You have given them the ability to walk behind the mind’s elaborate set decoration, and to see that there is a huge difference between a dog that is going to eat you in your mind and an actual dog that’s going to eat you. That may sound like no big deal, but many never learn that distinction and they spend a great deal of their lives living in fight or flight response.

I’d like to acknowledge all you wonderful parents — way to go for the fantastic job you’ve done — for your tireless dedication, your love, your support, and most of all, for the attention that you paid to your children. I have a saying, “Beware the unloved,” because they will eventually hurt themselves… or me.

But when I look at this group here, I feel really safe. I do! I’m just going to say it — my room is not locked. My room is not locked. No doubt some of you will turn out to be crooks. But white-collar stuff — Wall Street, that type of thing — crimes committed by people with self-esteem. Stuff parents can still be proud of in a weird way.

And to the graduating class of 2017 — minus 3! You didn’t let me finish! Congratulations! Yes, give yourselves a round of applause, please. You are the vanguard of knowledge and consciousness; a new wave in a vast ocean of possibilities. On the other side of that door, there is a world starving for new ideas, new leadership.

I’ve been out there for 30 years. She’s a wild cat! Oh, she’ll rub up against your leg and purr until you pick her up and start pettin’ her, and out of nowhere she’ll swat you in the face. It can be rough out there but that’s OK, because there’s soft serve ice cream with sprinkles. I guess that’s what I’m really trying to say here today; sometimes it’s okay to eat your feelings.

Now, fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear.

So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying, I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it, please. And if it doesn’t happen for you right away, it’s only because the universe is so busy fulfilling my order. It’s party size.


My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive.

I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.

It’s not the only thing he taught me though: I watched the affect of my father’s love and humor and how it altered the world around me, and I thought, “That’s something to do, that’s something worth my time.”

It wasn’t long before I started acting up. People would come over to my house and they would be greeted by a 7 yr old throwing himself down a large flight of stairs. They would say, “What happened?” And I would say, “I don’t know — let’s check the replay.” And I would go back to the top of the stairs and come back down in slow motion. It was a very strange household.

My father used to brag that I wasn’t a ham — I was the whole pig. And he treated my talent as if it was his second chance. When I was about 28, after a decade as a professional comedian, I realized one night in LA that the purpose of my life had always been to free people from concern, just like my dad. And when I realized this, I dubbed my new devotion, “The Church of Freedom From Concern”“The Church of FFC” — and I dedicated myself to that ministry.

What’s yours? How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out. As someone who has done what you are about to go and do, I can tell you from experience, the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. Because everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart.

My choosing to free people from concern got me to the top of a mountain. Look where I am — look what I get to do! Everywhere I go – and I’m going to get emotional because when I tap into this, it really is extraordinary to me — I did something that made people present their best selves to me wherever I go. I am at the top of the mountain and the only one I hadn’t freed was myself and that’s when my search for identity deepened.

I wondered who I’d be without my fame. Who would I be if I said things that people didn’t want to hear, or if I defied their expectations of me? What if I showed up to the party without my Mardi Gras mask and I refused to flash my breasts for a handful of beads? I’ll give you a moment to wipe that image out of your mind.


But you guys are so ahead of the game. You already know who you are and that peace, that peace that we’re after, lies somewhere beyond personality, beyond the perception of others, beyond invention and disguise, even beyond effort itself. You can join the game, fight the wars, play with form all you want, but to find real peace, you have to let the armor go. Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.

(A sheet drops and reveals Jim’s painting.)

It’s not big enough. This painting is big for a reason. It’s called High Visibility. It’s about picking up the light and daring to be seen. Here’s the tricky part. Everyone is attracted to the light. The party host up at the top who thinks unconsciousness is bliss and is always offering to drink from the bottles that empty you. Misery, below her, despises the light — can’t stand when you’re doing well — and wishes you nothing but the worst. The Queen of Diamonds under him needs a King to build her house of cards; and the Hollow One, down bottom there will cling to your leg and say, “Please don’t leave me behind for I have abandoned myself.”

Even those who are closest to you and most in love with you; the people you love most in the world will find clarity confronting at times. This painting took me thousands of hours to complete and — thank you — yes, thousands of hours that I’ll never get back, I’ll never get them back. I worked on this for so long, for weeks and weeks, like a mad man alone on a scaffolding — and when I was finished one of my friends said, “This would be a cool black light painting.”

So I started over. [All the lights go off in the Dome and the painting is showered with black light]. Whooooo! Welcome to Burning Man! Some pretty crazy characters up there? But better up there than in here. Painting is one of the ways I free myself from concern, a way to stop the world through total mental, spiritual and physical involvement.

But even with that, comes a feeling of divine dissatisfaction. Because ultimately, we’re not the avatars we create. We’re not the pictures on the film stock. We are the light that shines through. All else is just smoke and mirrors. Distracting, but not truly compelling.

I’ve often said that I wished people could realize all their dreams of wealth and fame so they could see that it’s not where you’re going to find your sense of completion. Like many of you, I was concerned about going out into the world and doing something bigger than myself, until someone smarter than myself made me realize that there is nothing bigger than myself.

My soul is not contained within the limits of my body. My body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul — one unified field of nothing dancing for no particular reason, except maybe to comfort and entertain itself. As that shift happens in you, you won’t be feeling the world you’ll be felt by it, you will be embraced by it. Now, I’m always at the beginning. I have a reset button and I ride that button constantly.


Once that button is functioning in your life, there’s no story that the mind could create that will be as compelling. The imagination is always manufacturing scenarios, both good and bad and the ego tries to keep you trapped in the multiplex of the mind. Our eyes are not viewers, they’re also projectors that are running a second story over the picture that we see in front of us all the time. Fear is writing that script and the working title is, ‘I’ll never be enough.’

You look at a person like me and say, “How could we ever hope to reach those kinds of heights, Jim? How can we make a painting that’s too big for our home? How do you fly so high without a special breathing apparatus?”

This is the voice of your ego. If you listen to it, there will always be someone who is doing better than you. No matter what you gain, ego will not let you rest. It will tell you that you cannot stop until you’ve left an indelible mark on the earth, until you’ve achieved immortality. How tricky is this ego that it would tempt us with the promise of something we already possess.

So I just want you to relax — that’s my job — relax and dream up a good life. I had a substitute teacher from Ireland in the second grade that told my class during Morning Prayer that when she wants something, anything at all, she prays for it, and promises something in return and she always gets it. I’m sitting at the back of the classroom, thinking that my family can’t afford a bike, so I went home and I prayed for one, and promised I would recite the rosary every night in exchange. Broke it — broke that promise.

Two weeks later, I got home from school to find a brand new mustang bike with a banana seat and easy rider handlebars — from fool to cool! My family informed me that I had won the bike in a raffle that a friend of mine had entered my name in, without my knowledge. That type of thing has been happening to me ever since, and as far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it while letting go of how it comes to pass.

Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head and when the door opens in real life, just walk through it. Don’t worry if you miss your cue because there’s always doors opening. They keep opening.

And when I say, “life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.” I really don’t know if that’s true. I’m just making a conscious choice to perceive challenges as something beneficial so that I can deal with them in the most productive way. You’ll come up with your own style, that’s part of the fun!

Oh, and why not take a chance on faith as well? Take a chance on faith — not religion, but faith. Not hope, but faith. I don’t believe in hope. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire. Faith leaps over it.


You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world and after you walk through those doors today, you will only ever have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.

Thank you so much. Jai Guru Dev. I’m so honored. Thank you.

Denzel Washington commencement speeches to University of Pennsylvania and Dillard University

Thank you. Thank you very much.

I am obviously the most unorganized; everybody else has nice boxes when they’re script up and I just kind of got all my stuff here and put inside of a magazine, so. So in fact, I don’t even have it in the right order, wait a minute. Let me get it in the right order here….

So if it starts like flying around the stage, just run around and grab it for me, bring it back up here for me. I’ll keep going as I can.


President Gutmann; Provost Price; Board Chair Cohen; fellow honorees; beautiful honorees and today’s graduates.

I’m honored and grateful for the invitation today. It’s always been great to be on the Penn campus. I’ve been here before a lot of times for basketball games. My son played at the Palestra, played on the basketball team. Coach didn’t give him enough playing time, but we’ll talk about that later.

No, I’m really pleased with the progress that Coach Allen has made and no, I do. I am, I really am. And I hope him the best success in the future.

I’d always get a warm welcome when I come to Pennsylvania, when I come to Philadelphia — except on the few occasions when I’d wear my Yankees cap.

It’s like taking your life in your hands around it when you wear Yankee cap, I am telling you. I met a couple of guys and they were like: “Hey, we love you Denzel. But you walking around with that hat on…we don’t care who you are.”

So you’ll be happy to see that I’m not wearing my Yankees cap today.

But I am wearing my Yankees socks, my Yankees t-shirt, and my Yankees jock shirts, my Yankee underwear. Not my Yankee cap.

Still, I’ll be honest with you: I’m a little nervous. I am not used to speaking at a graduation of this magnitude, it’s a little overwhelming. This is out of my comfort zone.


Dress me up in army fatigues. Or throw me on top of a moving train, someone said unstoppable or ask me to play Malcolm X, Rubin Hurricane Carter, Alonzo from Training Day: I can do all that.

But a commencement speech? It’s a very serious affair and it’s a different ballgame. There are literally thousands and thousands of people here.

And for those who say— well you’re a movie star, millions of people watch you speak all the time…… Yes, that’s technically true.  But I’m not actually there in the theater — watching them watching me. I think that makes sense.

I mean I’m not there when they cough… or fidget… or pull out their iPhone and text their boyfriend or scratch their behinds.

But from up here: I can see every single one of you. And that makes me uncomfortable.

So please, don’t pull out your iPhones and don’t text your boyfriend until after I’m done. Please.

But if you need to scratch your behinds, go right ahead. I’ll understand.

I was thinking about the speech, which I should say. I figured the best way to keep your attention would be to talk about something really, juicy Hollywood stuff. I thought I could start with me and Russell Crowe getting into some arguments on the set of American Gangster…but no. You’re a group of high-minded intellectuals. You’re not interested in that.


I thought about “private” moment I had backstage with Angelina Jolie in her dressing room at the Oscars?… I said no, I don’t think so. This is an Ivy League school. Angelina Jolie half-naked in her dressing room…? Who wants to hear about that?

No one, no one, this is Penn. That stuff wouldn’t go over well here. Maybe at Drexel—but not over here.

I’m in trouble now.

I was back to square one feeling the pressure. So now you’re probably thinking — if it was going to be this difficult, why’d I even accept today’s invitation in the first place?

Well, you know my son goes here. That’s number one. That’s a good reason. And I always like to check to see how my money’s being spent. And I’m sure there’s some parents out there who can relate to what I’m talking about!

And there were other good reasons for me to show up. Sure, I got an Academy Award… but I never had something called “Magic Meatballs” after waiting in line for half an hour at a food truck.

Yes, I’ve talked face-to-face with President Obama… but I never talked face to face with a guy named “Kweeder” who sings bad songs at Smokes on a Tuesday night.

Yes, I’ve played a detective battling demons… but I’ve never been to a school in my life where the squirrel population has gone bananas. I mean they break into the dorm rooms and they’re walking around campus. I think I saw some carrying books on the way to class.


So I had to be here. I had to come… even though I was afraid I might make a fool of myself. In fact, if you really want to know the truth: I had to come exactly because I might make a fool of myself.

What am I talking about?

Well, here it is: I’ve found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Nothing.

Nelson Mandela said: “There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that’s less than the one you’re capable of living.”

I’m sure in your experiences in school… in applying to college… in picking your major… in deciding what you want to do with life, people have told you to make sure you have something to “fall back on.” Make sure you got something to fall back on, honey. But I never understood that concept, having something to fall back on.

If I’m going to fall, I don’t want to fall back on anything, except my faith. I want to fall forward. At least I figure that way I’ll see what I’m about to hit.

Fall forward.

Here’s what I mean:


Reggie Jackson struck out twenty-six-hundred times in his career — the most in the history of baseball. But you don’t hear about the strikeouts. People remember the home runs.

Fall forward.

Thomas Edison conducted 1,000 failed experiments. Did you know that? I didn’t either, because 1,001 was the light bulb.

Fall forward.

Every failed experiment is one step closer to success. You’ve got to take risks. And I’m sure you’ve probably heard that before.

But I want to talk about why it’s so important.

I’ve got three reasons and then you can pick up your iPhones.

First… you will fail at some point in your life. Accept it. You will lose.  You will embarrass yourself. You will suck at something. There is no doubt about it. That’s probably not a traditional message for a graduation ceremony.


But, hey, I’m telling you—embrace it. Because it’s inevitable.

And I should know: In the acting business, you fail all the time. Early in my career, I auditioned for a part in a Broadway musical. A perfect role for me, I thought—except for the fact that I can’t sing.

So I’m in the wings, I am about to go on stage but the guy in front of me is singing like Pavarotti and I am just shrinking getting smaller and smaller…

So I come out with my little sheet music and it was “Just My Imagination” by the Temptations, that’s what I came up with.

So I hand it to the accompanist, and she looks at it and looks at me and looks at the director, so I start to sing and they’re not saying anything. I think I must be getting better, so I start getting into it.

But after the first verse, the director cuts me off: “Thank you. Thank you very much, you’ll be hearing from me.”

I assumed I didn’t get the job.

But the next part of the audition, he called me back. The next part of the audition is the acting part. I figure, I can’t sing, but I know I can act.


So they paired me with this guy and again I didn’t know about musical theater. In musical theater it’s big, so they can reach everyone all the way in the back. And I am more from a realistic naturalistic kind of acting where you actually talk to the person next to you.

So I got to know what my line was. My line was, “Well, hand me the cup.”

His line was: “Well, I will hand you the cup, my dear. The cup will be there to be handed to you.”

I said OK. “Should I give you the cup back?”

Yes, he said, give it back to me, because you know that is my cup, that it should be given back to me.

I didn’t get the job.

But here’s the thing: I didn’t quit. I didn’t fall back.

I walked out of there to prepare for the next audition, and the next audition, and the next one. I prayed and I prayed, but I continued to fail, and failed, and failed.


But it didn’t matter. Because you know what? There is an old saying: You hang around a barbershop long enough — sooner or later you will get a haircut.

So you will catch your break. And I did catch a break.

Last year I did a play called Fences on Broadway and I won a Tony Award. And I didn’t have to sing for it, by the way.

And here’s the kicker—it was at the Court Theater, the same theater where I failed that first audition 30 years prior.

The point is, and I will pick up the pace… the point is every graduate here today has the training and the talent to succeed. But do you have guts to fail?

Here’s my second point about failure:

If you don’t fail… you’re not even trying.

My wife told me this great expression: “To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”


Les Brown, a motivational speaker, made an analogy about this. He says, “Imagine you’re on your deathbed—and standing around your bed are the ghosts representing your unfilled potential. The ghosts of the ideas you never acted on. The ghosts of the talents you didn’t use. And they’re standing around your bed. Angry. Disappointed. Upset. They say “We came to you because you could have brought us to life,” they say.  “And now we have to go to the grave together.”

So I ask you today: How many ghosts are going to be around your bed when your time comes?

You invested a lot in your education. And people have invested in you. And let me tell you, the world needs your talents. Man, does it ever.

I just got back from Africa like two days ago, so I am rambling with a jetlag. I just got back from South Africa, it’s a beautiful country, but there are places with terrible poverty that need help. And Africa is just the tip of the iceberg. The Middle East needs your help. Japan needs your help. Alabama needs your help. Tennessee need your help. Louisiana needs your help. Philadelphia needs your help.

The world needs a lot—and we need it from you, the young people.

So you got to get out there. You got to give it everything you’ve got—whether it’s your time, your talent, your prayers, or your treasures.

Because remember this: You’ll never see a U-haul behind a hearse. You can’t take it with you. The Egyptians tried it—and all they got was robbed!

So the question: What are you going to do with what you have? And I’m not talking how much you have.


Some of you are business majors. Some of you are theologians, nurses, sociologists. Some of you have money. Some of you have patience. Some of you have kindness. Some of you have love. Some of you have the gift of long-suffering.

Whatever it is… whatever your gift is. What are you going to do with what you have?

Now here’s my last point about failure:

Sometimes it’s the best way to figure out where you’re going. Your life will never be a straight path.

I began at Fordham University as a pre-med student. I took a course called “Cardiac Morphogenesis.” I couldn’t it, I couldn’t say it… and I couldn’t pass it.

Then I decided to go pre-law. Then journalism. And with no academic focus, my grades took off in their own direction: down.

I was a 1.8 GPA one semester, and the university very politely suggested that it might be better to take some time off.

I was 20 years old, I was at my lowest point.


And then one day—and I remember the exact day: March 27th, 1975—I was helping my mother in her beauty shop; my mother owned a beauty shop up in Mount Vernon.

There was this older woman who was considered one of the elders in the town, I didn’t know her personally but I was looking in the mirror. And every time I looked to the mirror I could see her behind me and she was staring at me.

Every time I looked at her she kept giving me these strange looks. She finally took the drier off her head and said something to me I’ll never forget:

First of all, she said, somebody give me a piece of paper. Give me a piece of paper. She said “Young boy, I have a spiritual prophecy: you are going to travel the world and speak to millions of people.”

Like a wise-ass, I’m thinking to myself: “Does she got anything in that crystal ball about me getting back to college in the fall?”

But maybe she was on to something. Because later that summer, while working as a counselor at a YMCA camp in Connecticut, we put on a talent show for the campers.

After the show, another counselor came up to me and asked: “Have you ever thought of acting? You should. You’re good at that.”

When I got back to Fordham that fall I changed my major once again —for the last time.


And in the years that followed—just as that woman prophesied, I have traveled the world and I have spoken to millions of people through my movies.

Millions who—up ‘till today—I couldn’t see while I was talking to them.

But I do see you today. And I’m encouraged by what I see. I’m strengthened by what I see. I love what I see.

One more page, then I will shut up.

Let me conclude with one final point.

Many years ago I did this movie called Philadelphia. We actually filmed some scenes right here on campus.

Philadelphia came out in 1993, when most of you were probably still crawling around in diapers. Some of the professors, too.

But it’s a good movie. Rent it on Netflix. I get 23 cents every time you do. Tell your friends, too!


It’s about a man, played by Tom Hanks, who’s fired from his law firm because he has AIDS. He wants to sue the firm, but no one’s willing to represent him until a homophobic, ambulance-chasing lawyer—played by yours truly—takes on the case.

In a way, if you watch the movie, you’ll see everything I’m talking about today.

You’ll see what I mean about taking risks or being willing to fail.

Because taking risks is not just about going for a job. It’s also about knowing what you know and what you don’t know. It’s about being open to people and to ideas.

Over the course of the film, the character I play begins to take small steps, small risks. He very very very slowly begins to overcomes his fears, and I feel ultimately his heart becomes flooded with love.

And I can’t think of a better message as we send you off today.

To not only take risks, but to be open to life.

To accept new views and to be open to new opinions.


To be willing to speak at a commencement at one of the country’s best universities… even though you’re scared stiff.

While it may be frightening, it will also be rewarding.

Because the chances you take… the people you meet… the people you love…the faith that you have—that’s what’s going to define your life.

So members of the class of 2011: This is your mission:

When you leave the friendly confines of Philly: Never be discouraged. Never hold back. Give everything you’ve got.

And when you fall throughout life and maybe even tonight after a few too many glasses of champagne, remember this: fall forward.

Congratulations, I love you, God bless you, I respect you.

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