Ten Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You

Ahhh, it’s May, and this weekend the annual wave of commencement ceremonies begins. And yes, the inevitable Doonsbury comics, but that’s not where we’re going with this…


Unless you were Stanford ’05, chances are good to excellent you have no memory of who delivered your commencement speech, or what they spoke about.

So many other thoughts in my head those days… I know I don’t remember any of mine, but I do enjoy listening to thoughful speakers, and their messages in others’ speeches.

IMO, a good commencement speech is equal parts timeless and fresh, is both hopeful, and reality-based, and shares both retrospect, and vision.

Former speechwriter Charles Wheelan had his share of commencement speeches; writing them was his first job out of college.  He’s since moved on, and in a recent WSJ essay, he wrote of things he wished someone would have shared with Class of 1988.

Adapted from his about to be published book 10-1/2 things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said, #3-Don’t make the world worse, and # 9-It’s all borrowed time I thought were particularly wise.  Neither snarky or pessimistic, I think most are things we probably already ‘know’,  but are just so well-articulated here. Click the link above to check it out, maybe get a little re-calibrated yourself.