10 Famous Commencement Speeches


Steve Jobs at Stanford, 2005

steve jobs
A few months after his Stanford address, Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivered a keynote speech in San Jose, Calif., announcing a new iPod that played video. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."

Even if you're not a Mac, you should listen to Steve Jobs' understated commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.

Jobs, who quipped that the address was the closest he'd ever come to a college graduation, shared three stories that connected the dots of his life -- and could possibly serve as a roadmap for others. He outlined his decision to drop out of college, how it had loosed a hunger for learning and eventually inspired the launch of Apple computers.

Next, Jobs chronicled being fired from the company he'd built and how the painful and embarrassing split had led to greater things, including NeXT (which Apple later purchased because of its proprietary technology).

But it was Jobs' recollection of being diagnosed with cancer that really stood out. For one day, he lived with the prognosis that he had three to six months before a rare form of pancreatic cancer would take his life. Then a biopsy revealed he had a rarer form still, one that could be surgically removed. (Sadly, the cancer would return and Jobs died in 2011).

"Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking," Jobs advised. "Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become" [source: Stanford Report].