Graduation speeches are usually brimming with optimism and idealism. Be your best self. Lean in. Make your dream work. Myra Stober, a labor economist and professor emerita of education at Stanford University, took a different tack, offering Stanford’s graduate school of education students hard truths and pragmatic strategies for managing work-life balance. “You can harmonize…
Work and Family are two institutions which require a full time commitment. Having a balanced way of life doesn’t really help maximize on either of the two fronts. Unless, your significant other and you work towards fulfilling each others’ career goals.
Bill Watterson to in the commencement speech to his alma matter (Kenyon College), came out with several gems. I wonder how many of them will be retained by the original audience.
An excerpt –
Like many people, I found that what I was chasing wasn’t what I caught. I’ve wanted to be a cartoonist since I was old enough to read cartoons, and I never really thought about cartoons as being a business. It never occurred to me that a comic strip I created would be at the mercy of a bloodsucking corporate parasite called a syndicate, and that I’d be faced with countless ethical decisions masquerading as simple business decisions.
Bill talks about his passion, and how it manifested in different forms during his college years. How the passion overtook him, and then how the business overtook his passion. Without keeping your mind fresh, if you engage with passion, then even you might go through the same experience. The key to it is to play and keep an open mind for different ideas and experiences. So what new did you learn today?
I was unaware of the fact that JK Rowling (the author of the very popular Harry Potter series) holds an honorary degree from the Harvard Business School. So it came as a surprise when I chanced upon her Commencement speech at the HBS Alumni meet.
An excerpt –
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.
JK Rowling talks about how she looked at her failures to give her strength. To give her the courage to follow the road less trodden. Failure takes away all the unnecessary things, giving the individual focus and clarity. No wonder they say that failures are the pillars of success.
A parting note (quoting JK Rowling who was quoting Seneca) –
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I think everyone who is aspiring to make it big should go through that speech. Success is not something that happens overnight, and without a certain clarity of purpose, it is very hard to succeed.