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The Greatest Speeches in History: Guy Kawasaki and His Commencement Address at Menlo College

The Greatest Speeches in History is a weekly column that compiles the most memorable speeches in history with the goal to emphasize on the power of public speaking, to illustrate its importance, impact, and necessity to master.

Get inspired today by the bestselling author and prominent venture capitalists Guy Kawasaki and the commencement address he gave back in 2012 at Menlo College. Here are the most important outtakes from the speech, the ten things that Guy Kawasaki wanted the graduates to know, which are important to all of us:

Live off your parents as long as possible. They worked very hard to give you a better life. Don’t deprive them of the pleasure of watching you enjoy it. You have your whole life to work for bozos. Why rush?”

“Pursue joy, not happiness. Sure, the future is bright and all that stuff, but life is not uninterrupted pure happiness. You will go through difficult times. But what balances and overcomes difficulty is episodic joy. Joy does not come from the possession of material things—it comes from experiences such as falling in love, making close friends, creating products and services that delight people, and eventually raising children— especially when they move out.”

“Challenge the known and embrace the unknown. Many people challenge the unknown and embrace the known. Do the opposite: question the status quo because, quite frankly, the status quo is over-rated. Embrace, accept, and even better, cause change and enjoy the unknown.”

“Change your mind. This is a sign of intelligence. Steve Jobs changed his mind all the time. Complete, total, utter 180-degree changes. And he made you think he was right both times. The ability to change your mind means that you’re thinking, questioning, and courageous enough to admit mistakes. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”

“Don’t worry, be crappy. Don’t wait for perfection. Life isn’t perfect. Do the best you can and ship. Real people ship and then test and then ship again. And test again. And ship again. And one day you wake up and by golly, you have something insanely great.”

“Suck it up. Think of Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. He’s The Man because he’s willing to do the dirty job like working in factories, cleaning out sewers, and performing artificial insemination on pigs, chickens, turkeys, and llamas. Life isn’t easy. Suck it up.”

“Don’t ask people to do something you wouldn’t do. This is the best test for everything you want to ask or expect others to do. If you wouldn’t do something, you have no right to expect anyone else to.”

“Let me give you secret to succeeding in business: learning how to use PowerPoint. The optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation is 10. You should be able to give these ten slides in 20 minutes. The optimal font size is 30 points or ½ of the age of the oldest person in your audience.”

“Learning and schooling are not the same thing. Learning is lifelong. Schooling is not. Arguably, you will start a new kind of learning tomorrow because learning from this point is mostly internally driven. When you stop learning, you mentally die. It’s that simple.”

“Obey the absolutes. The greatest temptation in the workplace is relativistic morality: I don’t cheat on my taxes as much as others. I don’t pad my expense report as much as others. I don’t goof off as much as others. This is the slippery slope that causes people to lie on their resumes, cheat customers, and defraud the government. Right is right. And wrong is wrong. Don’t ever forget that.”

Thank you, Guy Kawasaki for sharing your wisdom with the world!

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