Tag Archives: speech

Our Self-Centered ‘Default’ Worldview: DFW’s Commencement Address

Recent talk of the cor­res­pond­ence bias (here) reminded me of pos­sibly the best com­mence­ment speech that I’ve not yet writ­ten about (and I’ve writ­ten about quite a few): Dav­id Foster Wallace’s com­mence­ment address to the gradu­ates of Kenyon Col­lege in 2005.

The speech, often cited as Wallace’s only pub­lic talk con­cern­ing his worldview, was adap­ted fol­low­ing his death into a book titled This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Sig­ni­fic­ant Occa­sion, About Liv­ing a Com­pas­sion­ate Life and is essen­tial read­ing for any­one inter­ested in per­son­al choice: the choice of think­ing and act­ing in a way con­trary to our self-centered “default” world­view.

Actu­ally, scrap that, it’s just essen­tial read­ing for every­one.

Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long check­out lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a con­scious decision about how to think and what to pay atten­tion to, I’m gonna be pissed and miser­able every time I have to shop. Because my nat­ur­al default set­ting is the cer­tainty that situ­ations like this are really all about me. About MY hun­gri­ness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem for all the world like every­body else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repuls­ive most of them are, and how stu­pid and cow-like and dead-eyed and non­hu­man they seem in the check­out line, or at how annoy­ing and rude it is that people are talk­ing loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and per­son­ally unfair this is. […]

If I choose to think this way in a store and on the free­way, fine. Lots of us do. Except think­ing this way tends to be so easy and auto­mat­ic that it doesn’t have to be a choice. It is my nat­ur­al default set­ting. It’s the auto­mat­ic way that I exper­i­ence the bor­ing, frus­trat­ing, crowded parts of adult life when I’m oper­at­ing on the auto­mat­ic, uncon­scious belief that I am the centre of the world, and that my imme­di­ate needs and feel­ings are what should determ­ine the world’s pri­or­it­ies.

To read the speech I recom­mend the ver­sion from More Intel­li­gent Life linked above as it is true to the speech as it was giv­en. If you prefer a slightly more edited read, The Wall Street Journ­al’s copy and The Guard­i­an’s copy may be more to your taste.

The Keynote MBA

Truth is, the great value in most MBA and JD pro­grams can be boiled down to 5 to 10 talks, present­a­tions, classes and con­ver­sa­tions that changed the way you exper­i­enced the world.

Fol­low­ing up on this com­ment, Jonath­an Fields presents The Sev­en Key­note MBA: sev­en key­note speeches, from a diverse group of people, that togeth­er Fields believes will provide you as much real-world advice as an MBA.

The talks (videos, length in par­en­theses):

  1. Guy Kawa­saki, TiECon 2006: The Art of the Start (39:46)
  2. Mal­colm Glad­well, TED 2004: What We Can Learn From Spa­ghetti Sauce (18:16)
  3. Gary Vayner­chuck, Web 2.0 Expo NY: Build­ing Per­son­al Brand With­in the Social Media Land­scape (15:27)
  4. Annie Leonard: The Story of Stuff (21:16)
  5. Jimmy Valvano, 1993 ESPY Awards: Arthur Ashe Cour­age and Human­it­ari­an Award accept­ance speech (9:59) (tran­script)
  6. Seth God­in, TED 2009: The Tribes We Lead (17:24)
  7. Tony Hsieh, Web 2.0 Sum­mit 08: Build­ing a Brand that Mat­ters (16:46)

via @evbogue

The Longevity of Our Work

I’m not a Flash design­er, but Jonath­an Har­ris’ inspir­ing and rous­ing speech from Flash on the Beach 2008 really got me think­ing about the longev­ity of my work.

It appears that some attendees of the con­fer­ence felt Har­ris was admon­ish­ing the Flash com­munity. How­ever, after read­ing this speech I feel inspired and I can’t help but think this was the inten­tion.

You will become known for doing what you do. This may sound obvi­ous, but it is a use­ful thing to real­ize. Many people seem to think they must endure a “rite of pas­sage” which, once passed, will allow them to do the kind of work they want to do. Then they end up dis­ap­poin­ted that this day nev­er comes. Find a way to do the work you want to do, even if it means work­ing nights and week­ends. Once you’ve done a hand­ful of excel­lent things in a giv­en way, you will become known as the per­son who does excel­lent things in that giv­en way. And that’s the per­son you want to be, because then people will hire you to be that per­son.

Ted Kennedy’s Eulogy for Bobby Kennedy

Earli­er this week I listened to and read Ted Kennedy’s eulogy for his broth­er, Robert Kennedy. I had nev­er heard this speech before and it is a fant­ast­ic ora­tion worth listen­ing to in full. However…

  • I would advise listen­ing to the speech on the embed­ded video while read­ing along so that you can hear the emo­tion in Ted Kennedy’s voice—fantastic!
  • Don’t just listen to the speech using the embed­ded video as the over­laid music is hor­rendous and occa­sion­ally dis­tract­ing.
  • The record­ing of the speech is 9:45 in length, sev­en minutes of which is an excerpt from Robert Kennedy’s own Day of Affirm­a­tion Address to the stu­dents of the Uni­ver­sity of Capetown, South Africa (June 6, 1966).

via Ben Cas­nocha

Top Speeches and Motivational Videos

Amer­ic­an Rhet­or­ic is a “speech bank” hold­ing over 5,000 full text, audio and video on some of the most fam­ous speeches, lec­tures, debates and inter­views of all time. Recently they released a list of the top 100 speeches in Amer­ic­an 20th cen­tury polit­ics (com­plete with tran­script and audio).

  1. Mar­tin Luth­er King, Jr. – “I Have a Dream”
  2. John Fitzger­ald Kennedy – Inaug­ur­al Address
  3. Frank­lin Delano Roosevelt – First Inaug­ur­al Address

If that got you inspired, these 22 per­son­al devel­op­ment videos are a great com­pli­ment.

  • Jim Rohn – “Your Best Year Ever”
  • Steve Jobs – Stan­ford Com­mence­ment Speech
  • Tim Fer­riss – Authors@Google with Marci Albo­her