5 Commencement Speeches Better Than TED Talks

It’s probably safe to assume that you’ve watched at least one TED Talk in your life considering back in 2012 TED announced its talks had reached one billion views. TED Talks run the gamut from insightful, to inspirational, to teach worthy. To be honest, we love TED Talks. Whether it’s Amy Cuddy’s talk about body language (a must watch before you interview) or The Puzzle of Motivation from Dan Pink.

But we’ve also found that graduation commencement speeches are often very similar, except sometimes, they are better.

Here are five graduation speeches we love and wanted to share with our friends and customers. Click on the video links below. We hope they inspire you as much as they inspire us.

1. JK Rowling at Harvard

In her Harvard Commencement Speech, Harry Potter author JK Rowling speaks on the importance of failure.

“You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships until both have been tested by adversity.”

“Life is not a checklist of acquisitions or achievements, your CV is not your life…. Life is difficult and complicated and beyond anyone’s control.”

2. Steve Jobs at Stanford

Apple CEO, the late Steve Jobs is probably best known for pioneering the rise of the personal computer, but he has also gained street cred for his commencement address to Stanford graduates in 2005.

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; 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.”

3. Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane

As the “common cement” speaker at Tulane’s 2009 graduation commencement, Ellen DeGeneres not only drew a number of laughs and showed offer her signature dance moves, she also talked about the importance of being true to yourself no matter what the cost.”

“The most important thing is to be true to yourself … for me the most important thing is to live your life with integrity.”

4. Jim Carrey at Marharishi University

In his 2014 commencement address to Marharishi University of Management graduates in Iowa. Funny man Jim Carrey earned a huge round of applause from the graduates and the admiration of viewers later, with profound statements like this one:

“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.”

He also talked about how his dad took the safe route becoming an accountant instead of a comedian, but fell on hard times nonetheless.

Carrey said, “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.”

5. Steven Colbert at Northwestern

When the star of the Comedy Central’s Colbert Report took the stage at Northwestern in 2011, the audience was not only in store for laughs, but also a salient reminder that love and service go hand in hand in life.

“You cannot win your life. You will truly serve only what you love because service is love made visible. If you love your friends you will serve your friends if you love community you will serve your community and if you love money you will serve money if your money and if you love only yourself you will only serve yourself and you will have only yourself. Try to love others and serve others.”