Commencement season has come and gone, leaving in its wake a diverse array of videos featuring speeches full of sappy platitudes and often times great career advice from leading industry professionals. They’re themed talks pertaining to the future that address a whole slew of topics, but mainly zone in on the various types of success you may be lucky enough to stumble upon in the “real world.” Whether speakers choose to approach the subject matter in a humorous, serious, direct or rather quirky manner, the idea that success can only be defined by you, so don’t live someone else’s dream tends to ring true in any address delivered graduation day. That’s what P. Diddy said at Howard University and what Reddit Co-founder Alexis Ohanian touched on when speaking to Carthage College.
The University of Virginia alum spoke frankly with soon-to-be graduates, offering encouragement and guidance, but in a very real, down-to-earth way. He exhorted seniors to take risks, fall every once in a while only to learn from your failure and embrace change no matter the circumstance. Ohanian would know, too, as the first company he launched on UVa’s Charlottesville campus, My Mobile Menu – Mmm for short – went nowhere after a year and a half of hard work.
“It’s O.K. to not really know what you’re doing, and just trust your gut. Make the best judgment you can. There’s not going to be a syllabus assigned to you,” Ohanian told the eager crowd of young people. “It’s going to be using whatever knowledge you’ve gained, whatever resources you have, to just figure it out, to just hack it. I mean, most of the time, I still don’t know what I’m doing.”
That’s not to say you won’t find your way, he added. “You are going to figure it out, and failure is going to be part of the process. You’re all here because you’re good at not failing, right? This is the culmination of doing a great job at not failing.” However, Ohanian continued, “There are no G.P.A.s after this. There’s going to be lots of setbacks. There’s going to be lots of failures […] But that’s O.K. Failure is an option.”
Living true to his mission of making the world suck less, Ohanian proffered counsel to the students ready to move their tassel from right to left that was unlike any other advisement provided by commencement speakers that that had come before him. Check out what else Ohanian said in the video courtesy of Carthage College below: