Steve Jobs: Paint the back of the fence
A little fatherly wisdom from Steve jobs dad:
‘You got to make the back of the fence that nobody will see just as good looking as the front of the fence. Even though nobody will see it, you will know, and that will show that you’re dedicated to making something perfect.”
Mohamed El-Erian: Consider other points of view
A little fatherly wisdom from Mohamed El-Erians dad:
‘Each day we used to get at least four daily newspapers, from Le Figaro on the right side of the political spectrum to L’Humanité, which was the newspaper of the Communist Party,’ he told Fortune.
‘I remember asking my father, Why do we need four newspapers? He said to me, ‘Unless you read different points of view, your mind will eventually close, and you’ll become a prisoner to a certain point of view that you’ll never question.”
Indra Nooyi: Assume positive intent
A little fatherly wisdom from Indra Nooys dad:
It’s a simple shift, but the results can be huge, she explained to Fortune. ‘You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed.’
Instead of getting defensive, you’ll be able to really listen to other people — and moreover, other people will be able to really listen to you. ‘(W)hen you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.”
Sara Blakely: Celebrate failure
‘My dad used to ask my brother and me at the dinner table what we had failed at that week,’ she told the audience at a 2015 Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship event in New York City. ‘I can remember coming home from school and saying, ‘Dad, I tried out for this and I was horrible!’ and he would high-five me and say, ‘Way to go!’ If I didn’t have something that I had failed at, he actually would be disappointed.’
It’s that attitude that gave Blakely the confidence to take big risks. ‘He gave me the gift of retraining my thinking about failure,’ she explained. ‘Failure for me became about not trying, instead of the outcome.’
Sheryl Sandberg: If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.
Salman Khan: Live your life like it’s your second chance.
Neil Gaiman: Do the stuff that only you can do.
Acclaimed British author and artist Neil Gaiman’s advice to the 2012 graduates of the University of the Arts is holds true whether you’re a painter or a poet or a nurse practitioner.
‘The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you,’ he advised. ‘Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.’
‘The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself,’ he warned — ‘that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.’
David Foster Wallace: The way you perceive and react to the world is a choice.
Jeff Bezos: Everything you are comes from your choices.
Addressing the Princeton class of 2012, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos emphasised the difference between gifts and choices. ‘Cleverness is a gift; kindness is a choice,’ he said. ‘Gifts are easy — they’re given after all. Choices can be hard.’
But while gifts are important, in the end, it’s choices that will shape your life. ‘I will hazard a prediction,’ Bezos said.
Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
Jennifer Lee: Ban self-doubt.
‘People talk about the dangers of rose-coloured glasses, but let me tell you, the lenses of self-doubt are far worse,’ she warned. ‘It makes you defensive instead of open, reactive instead of active. Self-doubt is consuming and cruel. And my hope today is that we can all collectively agree to ban it.’
‘Think to the moments of your life when you forgot to doubt yourself. When you were so inspired that you were just living and creating and working,’ Lee said. ‘Pay attention to those moments because they’re trying to reach you through those lenses of doubt and trying to show you your potential.’
Michael Lewis: Never forget how lucky you are.
Conan O’Brien: Success is a lot like a bright white tuxedo.
In his 2000 commencement speech at Harvard, fellow alum, comedian Conan O’Brien, chose to focus on his failures — not his success.
‘As graduates of Harvard,’ he warned, ‘your biggest liability is your need to succeed, your need to always find yourself on the sweet side of the bell curve.’ But that pressure is dangerous. ‘Success is a lot like a bright white tuxedo,’ he mused. ‘You feel terrific when you get it, but then you’re desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it.’
But he encouraged the grads to embrace those failures and get those tuxedos dirty. ‘Every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good,’ he said. ‘Fall down. Make a mess. Break something occasionally. Know that your mistakes are your own unique way of getting to where you need to be. ‘
Oprah Winfrey: If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
‘The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead,’ she said. ‘If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. That’s the lesson.
Robert Krulwich: Don’t just send out resumes and wait for things to happen.
I don’t know exactly what going on inside them; but they have this … hunger. It’s almost like an ache,’ he said. ‘Something inside you says I can’t wait to be asked I just have to jump in and do it.’
Be that person, he urged. ‘Think about NOT waiting for a company to call you up. Think about not giving your heart to a bunch of adults you don’t know. Think about horizontal loyalty. Think about turning to people you already know, who are your friends, or friends of their friends and making something that makes sense to you together, that is as beautiful or as true as you can make it.’
Steve Jobs: You can’t connect the dots looking forward.
— the decisions that change the course of our lives — only become clear in retrospect. In the meantime, all you can do is chase what you love.
As a Reed College dropout, Jobs started taking calligraphy classes — something he never would have never done if he’d been an enrolled student. But he followed his curiosity, and that turned out to be pivotal for the future of technology: ‘If I had never dropped out,’ Jobs said, ‘I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.’
‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward,’ he said. ‘You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.’
Bono: The world is more malleable than you think.
changing the world isn’t only desirable — it’s possible.
‘I used to think the future was solid or fixed, something you inherited like an old building that you move into when the previous generation moves out or gets chased out,’ he said. ‘But it’s not. The future is not fixed, it’s fluid.’
‘The world is more malleable than you think,’ he continued. ‘And it’s waiting for you to hammer it into shape.
Stephen Colbert: Say yes.
‘With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say ‘yes.’ And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say ‘yes’ back.’
‘Now will saying ‘yes’ get you in trouble at times?’ Colbert continued. ‘Will saying ‘yes’ lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise.’
J.K. Rowling: Failure can be awful. But living so cautiously that you never fail is worse.
Ellen DeGeneres: Your definition of success is going to change. A lot.
‘The important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and not to give into peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not, to live your life as an honest and compassionate person, to contribute in some way.’
‘Never follow anyone else’s path,’ DeGeneres advised. ‘Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path — by all means you should follow that.’
Jon Stewart: No one is ever going to give you a core curriculum again. That’s the exciting part.
College is something you complete; life is something you experience.’
Barbara Kingsolver: You can be as earnest and ridiculous as you need to be, if you don’t attempt it in isolation.
Russell Baker: Don’t muck up the world worse than it already is.
Cornel West: There is a need for audacious hope.
Bradley Whitford: At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble.
‘Every story you’ve ever connected with, every leader you’ve ever admired, every puny little thing that you’ve ever accomplished is the result of taking action,’ he told the grads. ‘You have a choice. You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life. Action is the antidote to apathy and cynicism and despair.’
‘You will inevitably make mistakes,’ he continued. ‘Learn what you can and move on. At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble.’
Ann Patchett: Come back to the place you graduated in a few years. It reminds you that uncertainty works out.
‘Every choice lays down a trail of bread crumbs, so that when you look behind you there appears to be a very clear path that points straight to the place where you now stand,’ Patchett said. ‘But when you look ahead there isn’t a bread crumb in sight — there are just a few shrubs, a bunch of trees, a handful of skittish woodland creatures.’ Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. ‘Sometimes not having any idea where we’re going works out better than we could possibly have imagined.’
Winston Churchill: Your greatest fears are created by your imagination. Don’t give in to them.
‘You cannot tell from appearances how things will go,’ he said. ‘Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination.’
Henry Kravis: Relativism is not an option; it is all about honesty and loyalty.
‘Relativism is not an option; it is all about honesty and loyalty. These are absolutes. Trust me, they will make your lives simpler — and they carry their own rewards.’
José Andrés: Get a cocktail shaker.
‘There will always be critics and naysayers telling you what you cannot do,’ he said. ‘There will always be more people bring you down than lifting you up. It seems that way sometimes, but let me tell you: get a cocktail shaker, if you are over 21. At your heart, your soul, your brain, your instinct, and shake it hard. Serve it straight-up, but let me give you a secret ingredient: add a dash of criticism on top because those naysayers play an important role, too. They motivate you to rise above, to challenge yourself, to prove them wrong.’