11 pieces of life-changing advice from commencement speeches by tech celebrities

Steve Jobs Commencement HD 2Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News ServiceApple cofounder Steve Jobs

Commencement speeches could often get boring.

A lot of them are filled with unnecessary cliches.

But these 11 speeches by some of the most successful tech giants will inspire you to do great things in life.

Evan Spiegel: 'I am now convinced that the fastest way to figure out if you are doing something truly important to you is to have someone offer you a bunch of money to part with it.'

At age 24, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel is only a few years older than the students who graduated this year. Yet he gave a pretty inspiring speech at USC's 2015 business school's commencement.

Best quotes:

'It turns out there are two things that can dramatically reduce conformity in a group setting. The first is a single dissenting voice. The second is the ability to communicate privately with other members of the group.'

'I am now convinced that the fastest way to figure out if you are doing something truly important to you is to have someone offer you a bunch of money to part with it...The best thing is that, no matter whether or not you sell, you will learn something very valuable about yourself. If you sell, you will know immediately that it wasn't the right dream anyways. And if you don't sell you're probably onto something. Maybe you have the beginning of something meaningful.'

'Please voice your dissent. Anticipate your erasure. And find something you aren't willing to sell.'

Watch full video here.

Dick Costolo: 'Not only can you not plan the impact you're going to have, you often won't recognise it when you're having it.'

Speaking at the 2013 graduation of the University of Michigan, Twitter's CEO Dick Costolo gave a commencement speech filled with jokes, wisdom, and valuable advice. In fact, prominent VC Fred Wilson said it's a speech 'relevant to everyone working in the startup world.'

Best quotes:

'Not only can you not plan the impact you're going to have, you often won't recognise it when you're having it…The impact is what others frame for you and the world after it happens. The present is only what you're experiencing and focused on right now…You cannot draw that path looking forward. You cannot draw any of your paths looking forward. You have to figure out what you love to do, what you have conviction about, and go do that.'

'When you're doing what you love to do, you become resilient. You create a habit of taking chances on yourself. If you do what expected of you and things go poorly, you will look to external sources for what to do next, because that will be your habit. You will be standing there frozen. If you are just filling a role you will be blindsided.'

'What I implore you to do is believe that if you make courageous choices and bet on yourself and put yourself out there that you will have an impact as a result of what you do and you don't need to know now what that will be, or how that will happen, because nobody ever does.'

Watch the full video here.

Drew Houston: 'I stopped trying to make my life perfect, and instead tried to make it interesting.'

At the 2013 MIT graduation, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston spoke about how giving himself a break and giving into some of the distractions actually helped him launch Dropbox. By doing so, it made his life more interesting too.

Best quotes:

'What scares me is that both the poker bot and Dropbox started out as distractions. That little voice in my head was telling me where to go, and the whole time I was telling it to shut up so I could get back to work. Sometimes that little voice knows best.'

'When I think about it, the happiest and most successful people I know don't just love what they do, they're obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them.'

'I stopped trying to make my life perfect, and instead tried to make it interesting. I wanted my story to be an adventure -- and that's made all the difference.'

Watch the full video here.

Marc Benioff: 'The real joy in life comes from giving, from service, from doing things for other people.'

At the 2014 USC commencement, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff recounts his journey from being the youngest Oracle executive to launching Salesforce, one of the fastest growing business software companies ever. But the biggest takeaway is to help others by giving, and that's the most rewarding thing in life.

Best quotes:

'The real joy in life comes from giving, from service, from doing things for other people. Nothing will make you happier than giving.'

'Don't forget to do something for others…Nothing will make you happier than giving.'

'If you're going to connect your business and your philanthropy, you better make sure that it's integrated deep into your culture, that it's not just something that you're going to tack on.'

Watch full video here.

Eric Schmidt: 'This generation -- your generation -- is the first fully connected generation the world has ever known.'

Google CEO Eric Schmidt speaks during the company's Chrome event in San Francisco December 7, 2010.

At the 2012 UC Berkeley graduation, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt urges the graduating class to think big, especially by taking advantage of the technology now available around the world.

Best quotes:

'But I know you have an advantage -- a competitive edge -- you have an innate mastery of technology, an ability to build and foster connections that no generation before you ever possessed.'

'And I believe even more fully in the ability of your generation to use that power to great effect -- to rule technology. But you can't let technology rule you...Remember to take at least one hour a day and turn off your devices. Shut it down. Learn where the OFF button is.'

'Do not be afraid to fail. And DO NOT be afraid to succeed...For those who say you're thinking too big … be smart enough not to listen. For those who say the odds are too small … be dumb enough to give it a shot. And for those who ask, how can you do that?… look them in the eyes and say, I'll figure it out.'

Watch full video here.

Tim Cook: 'Don't shrink from risk. And tune out those cynics and critics.'

Tim Cook speaks to graduates at George Washington University.

Speaking in front of this year's graduating class of the George Washington University, Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about how sticking to your values can change your life, and ultimately the whole world.

Best quotes:

'It's about finding your values, and committing to them. It's about finding your North Star. It's about making choices. Some are easy. Some are hard. And some will make you question everything.'

'(Steve Jobs) convinced me that if we worked hard, and made good products, we too could change the world...It has been 17 years, and I have never once looked back.'

'No matter what you do next, the world needs your energy, your passion, your impatience for progress...Don't shrink from risk. And tune out those cynics and critics. History rarely yields to one person -- but think, and never forget, what happens when it does...That can be you. That should be you. That must be you.'

Watch full video here.

Larry Page: 'I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams.'

Larry Page's 2009 commencement address

At the 2009 University of Michigan graduation ceremony, Google cofounder Larry Page shared some personal stories about growing up in Michigan and how an awkward dream inspired him to start Google. Most importantly, he told the crowd to be good to their families.

Best quotes:

'I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. I know that sounds completely nuts. But, since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition.'

'But we almost didn't start Google because my co-founder Sergey and I were too worried about dropping out of our Ph.D. program. You are probably on the right track if you feel like a footpath worm during a rainstorm! Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting!'

'Just like me, your families brought you here, and you brought them here. Please keep them close and remember: they are what really matters in life.'

Watch full video here.

Bill Gates: 'Optimism is often dismissed as false hope. But there is also false hopelessness.'

At the 2014 Stanford commencement, Bill Gates talks about a sense of optimism can go a long way. It's what drove him to start Microsoft, and what's inspired him to devote so much time in philanthropy.

Best quotes:

'Optimism is often dismissed as false hope. But there is also false hopelessness. That's the attitude that says we can't defeat poverty and disease. We absolutely can.'

'But we want to make the strongest case we can for the power of optimism. Even in dire situations, optimism can fuel innovation and lead to new tools to eliminate suffering. But if you never really see the people who are suffering, your optimism can't help them. You will never change their world.'

'If our optimism doesn't address the problems that affect so many of our fellow human beings, then our optimism needs more empathy. If empathy channeled our optimism, we would see the poverty and the disease and the poor schools, we would answer with our innovations, and we would surprise the pessimists.'

Watch full video here.

Jeff Bezos: 'You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you're not careful, and if you do, it will probably be to the detriment of your choices.'

Jeff Bezos giving a commencement address

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shares his wisdom on the importance of choices you make in your life at the 2010 Princeton commencement. He raises a lot of questions worth asking yourself, which can have a profound impact on your life.

Best quotes:

'Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy -- they're given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you're not careful, and if you do, it will probably be to the detriment of your choices.'

'How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?'

'Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure? Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?'

'When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.'

Watch full video here.

Sheryl Sandberg: 'You can do it if you lean in. So go home tonight and ask yourselves, 'What would I do if I weren't afraid?' And then go do it.'

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Speaking in front of Barnard College's class of 2011, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks about how women should empower themselves to succeed by thinking big and believing in their own potential.

Best quotes:

'We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women's voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.'

'I hope that you -- yes, you -- each and every one of you have the ambition to run the world, because this world needs you to run it. Women all around the world are counting on you. I'm counting on you.'

'But if all young women start to lean in, we can close the ambition gap right here, right now, if every single one of you leans in. Leadership belongs to those who take it. Leadership starts with you.'

'You can do it if you lean in. So go home tonight and ask yourselves, 'What would I do if I weren't afraid?' And then go do it.'

Watch full video here.

Steve Jobs: 'Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.'

In what it is often called one of the best commencement speeches of all time, Apple's late cofounder Steve Jobs shared his wisdom on life, work, and death. In fact, Jobs' speech is the most watched commencement speech in YouTube's history.

Best quotes:

'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.'

'I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.'

'Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.'

'Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.'

Watch full video here.

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