JK Rowling's Harvard Commencement Speech

Posted by Otis Chandler on June 9, 2008
Just listened to it - good stuff if you haven't seen it yet!

Graduation speeches are funny things. Graduates are ready to get out of there, and a few tidbits of advice from some bigwig probably isn't really going to change their career paths. But I think they can be useful to look back on. My favorite all time is from one of my role model's: Steve Job's commencement speech at Stanford in 2005. Steve basically said to follow your passions - wherever they might lead. Advice that I agree with fully :)

Rowling's first message was that it's ok to fail, and that the only way to succeed to is first fail. Thomas Edison had a similar quote. Some quotes that resonated with me:

"Failure meant the stripping away of the nonessential."

"You might be driven more by a fear of failure than a desire to succeed." (I'm reading the book Sway by Ori Brafman right now and this resonated.)

"It is impossible to live without failure. Unless you live so cautiously that you avoid life - in which case you fail by default."

JK Rowling hasn't written a book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - but if she follows her own advice I think we'll see her start to give back to the world. She closed with a powerful message of the social responsibility of those who have the power to make a difference. A great quote was "We do not need magic to transform our world".

Read the full text here.


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