Karen the Editor's grad speech pick: Conan's Harvard address to the class of 2000
When you go looking for the best graduation speeches given this year, a lot of options pop up. But when you go looking for the best speeches of all time? Be prepared to be buried by search results. When we asked editor Karen Bokram which speech got her top-dog vote, though, she didn't hesitate (or Google). Her pick? Conan O'Brien's Class Day speech at Harvard in 2000. Himself a Harvard grad--class of '85, thank you very much--the comedian was able to speak to the experiences the undergrads had had themselves over the past four years, from dorms to the daunting senior thesis. His best bit of universal advice, though? This treasure:
"I took a lot of criticism, some of it deserved, some of it excessive, and, to be honest with you, it hurt like you would not believe. But I’m telling you all this for a reason. I’ve had a lot of success. I’ve had a lot of failure. I’ve looked good. I’ve looked bad. I’ve been praised. And I’ve been criticized. But my mistakes have been necessary. I’ve dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed, your need to always find yourself on the sweet side of the bell curve. Success is a lot like a bright white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you’re desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it."
Take a gander at the full speech below...