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Commencement speeches to motivate you

Commencement speeches are tailored to reach graduates, but often lend inspiration to every day people, long out of college.

2012 commencement speech season

Do you remember your college graduation commencement speaker? Do you remember that moment of finally achieving what you had worked diligently (or not so diligently in some cases) to walk across that stage? Do you remember being so inspired by your commencement speaker or by that moment that you were about to burst?

My commencement speaker was Kinky Friedman when I graduated from the University of Texas, and for those of you that don’t know Kinky, he is an eccentric Texan who has penned several books, is a humorist, the loud founder of a no-kill animal rescue shelter, musician (who is well known for his “They Don’t Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore” song), and yes, has political aspirations, having run for Governor of Texas. His slogans included “My Governor is a Jewish Cowboy” and “He ain’t Kinky, he’s my Governor,” and these silly slogans were put up all across the state.

The ultra conservative and proper side of my family was appalled, and I could feel their panic from nearly 300 rows down from them, while my ultra hippie side of the family was as pleased as punch. I remember he stressed that as a UT graduate, he knew the pressures we were under and we all needed to calm the hell down and take life a little less seriously now that we were free, and that maybe weed would help some of us. Maybe it wasn’t an Oprah moment, but it was very Kinky Friedman, and as a high strung person, the “relax” advice was not lost on me (although the weed part was, honestly).

Commencement speeches are not meant to be memorized by the world, but often have nuggets of wisdom that can motivate and inspire anyone, be it a tip to relax, or as seen below, to be great, and to surround yourself with people who refuse to cheerlead you for the sake of cheerleading.

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Take three minutes to watch, and tell us which speaker’s point was not lost on you:

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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