It’s June, which means it’s graduation time in the US. Mike Duffy delivers an incredible commencement speech at his daughter’s grammar school, the Sonoma County Day School (SCDS). It is one of the best commencement speeches I’ve read, ever, and this was for a grammar school graduation — you don’t see this quality of message at the college graduation level, even.
Let me back up for a second: I originally wrote that last sentence on June 11th, when Mike Duffy posted his speech. A few days later, on June 14th, Stanford posted the commencement speech that Steve Jobs gave on June 12th. Indeed, if I had to decide between Mike’s and Steve’s speeches and say which is better, I don’t think I could. They’re aimed at different audiences, as Steve’s audience has already made the large investment in a Stanford education, as opposed to the SCDS graduates who still have between four and eight or more years — assuming they continue on to college or beyond — of school ahead of them to do something with themselves. Both messages are relevant, meaningful and well-delivered. I’d recommend that everyone give both speeches a good read and decide for yourself which one speaks to you more, and take it to heart.
Mike Duffy and Steve Jobs have really managed to capture the essence of what is important to focus on and expressed it in a very emotionally accessible way. I hope those kids from Mike’s daughter’s school go on to do great things, and they will, if they remember that all things are possible because we make the rules. I also hope the kids from Stanford realize that all the money and college education in the world won’t amount to anything if you don’t follow your passion, even if it isn’t obvious why you should be, because history will tell a different story about your life than you think it will.
Update 2006-06-08: Stephen Colbert and more great commencement speeches of 2006