Conan O'Brien delivered the commencement speech yesterday to 1,700 Dartmouth graduates, and being a Harvard grad himself, it's no surprise he took the opportunity to make a few jabs at the competing Ivy League school. For instance, he said that the school has an inferiority complex, joking that they don't even think they deserve a real podium, and the one he's using looks like they stole it from the set of Survivor: Nova Scotia or that a bear would use it at an AA meeting. Ha!
It was all in good fun, though, and surprisingly, it seems like even though he's "just a comedian," O'Brien is actually a wise guy. In fact, I've always thought that humor is a great way to get any important message across, and Conan certainly has that routine down.
Here, seven life lessons from O'Brien's speech that are applicable to new grads ... or anyone, for that matter!
1. Falling down can be a blessing in disguise. Who better to talk about falling down and picking yourself back up than the guy Jay Leno booted off The Tonight Show? The now host of the TBS late-night show Conan told grads that "perceived failure can be a catalyst for profound re-invention" and ...
There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized. Whether you fear it or not, true disappointment will come but with disappointment comes clarity, conviction, and true originality.
2. Life is not fair. Things may seem all hunky-dory in college, but the real world is a cruel place. Conan made this point by telling grads:
Life is not fair. For example, you have worked tirelessly for four years to earn the diploma you’ll be receiving this weekend, and Dartmouth is giving me the same degree for interviewing the fourth lead in Twilight. Deal with it.
3. If you're going to make decisions that cause a global financial crisis, you better hope you're a fictional character. Conan jabbed Dartmouth alum Timothy Geithner by calling him one of the school's "greatest fictitious graduate": "Man, imagine if a real Treasury Secretary made those kinds of decisions."
4. We all deserve more credit for our educations. Under what he calls "The Conan Doctrine," all bachelor degrees will be upgraded to masters degrees, all masters degrees will be upgraded to PhDs, and all MBA students will be immediately transferred to a white collar prison. Amazing!
5. Not having good skin can undermine your success. Conan offered grads "practical advice" that beats "reach for the stars," like this gem: "Adult acne lasts longer than you think. I almost cancelled two days ago because I had a zit on my eye."
6. Spending lots of money on your kid's education won't guarantee they'll have found themselves ... or jobs. He also offered parents in particular some sage advice: "Many of you haven’t seen your children in four years. Now you are about to see them every day when they come out of the basement to tell you the Wi-Fi isn’t working." And: "You will spend more money framing your child’s diploma than they will earn in the next six months. It’s tough out there, so be patient. The only people hiring right now are Panera Bread and Mexican drug cartels."
7. Dreams change. And that's okay. I couldn't agree more with Conan on this point that is applicable to anyone, no matter your age. "Whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change. And that’s okay."
For your enjoyment, here's the video of the entire speech, featuring Conan's amazing hair.
What do you think about Conan's Dartmouth speech?
Image via YouTube