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Charlie Munger delivered this speech at Harvard University in June 1995. Munger spoke about a framework for decision making with an emphasis on factors contributing to human misjudgments. The Psychology of Human Misjudgment is talk eleven in Poor Charlie’s Almanack, a collection of speeches and lectures by Charlie Munger, compiled by Peter D. Kaufman. The speech is based on the concepts he read from Robert Cialdini’s great book. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Munger was so impressed by Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, after reading the book, Munger wrote in Poor Charlie’s Almanack:

“Cialdini had made himself into a super-tenured “Regents Professor” at very young age by  devising, describing, and explaining a vast group of  clever experiments in which man manipulated man to his detriment, with all of this made possible by  man’s intrinsic thinking flaws. ”

I immediately sent copies of Cialdini’s book to all my children. I also gave Cialdini a share of Berkshire stock [Class A] to thank him for what he had done for me and the public. Incidentally, the sale by Cialdini of hundreds of thousands of copies of a book about social psychology was a huge feat,  considering that Cialdini didn’t claim that he was going to improve your sex life or make you any money. “

I immediately sent copies of Cialdini’s book to all my children. I also gave Cialdini a share of Berkshire stock [Class A] to thank him for what he had done for me and the public.

The Psychology of Human Misjudgement Transcript

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”—Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch delivered his “Last Lecture”, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams“, at Carnegie Mellon on September 18, 2007. This talk was modeled after an ongoing series of lectures where top academics are asked to think deeply about what matters to them, and then give a hypothetical “final talk”, i.e., “what wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?”

On September 19, 2006, Pausch underwent a pancreaticoduodenectomy to remove the malignant tumor from his pancreas. In August 2007, after doctors discovered that the cancer had recurred, Pausch was given a terminal diagnosis and was told to expect a remaining three to six months of good health.

Randy Pausch later expanded on his last lecture speech into a book format, co-authored with Jeffrey Zaslow. | Order on Last Lecture on Amazon.

“The common denominator of success — the secret of success of every man who has ever
been successful — lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures
don’t like to do.”

The speech was first given by Mr Gray at the 1940 annual convention of The National Association of Life Underwriters, now the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), Albert E. N. Gray was an official of the Prudential Insurance Company of America. 

Several years ago I was brought face to face with the very disturbing realization that I was trying to supervise and direct the efforts of a large number of men and women who were trying to achieve success, without knowing myself what the secret of success really was. And that, naturally, brought me face to face with the further realization that regardless of what other knowledge I might have brought to my job, I was definitely lacking in the most important knowledge of all.

Of course, like most of us. I have been brought up on the popular belief that the secret of success is hard work, but I had seen so many people work hard without succeeding and so many people succeed without working hard that I had become convinced that hard work was not the real secret even though in most cases it might be one of the requirements.

Hard work was not the real secret even though in most cases it might be one of the requirements.

Wisdom acquisition is a moral duty. It’s not something you do just to advance in life.

As a corollary to that proposition which is very important, it means that you are hooked for lifetime learning.

And without lifetime learning, you people are not going to do very well. You are not going to get very far in life based on what you already know. You’re going to advance in life by what you learn after you leave here.


Charlie Munger
delivered the 2007 Commencement Address to the graduating students at the University of Southern California Law School on May 13, 2007.

Charles Thomas Munger (born January 1, 1924) is an American investor, businessman, former real estate attorney, architectural designer, and philanthropist. He is vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate controlled by Warren Buffett.

Iron Prescription: “I’m not entitled to have an opinion on this subject unless I can state the arguments against my position better than the people do who are supporting it.”

Charlie Munger 2007 USC Law School Commencement Address Transcript:

Well, no doubt many of you are wondering why the speaker is so old. Well, the answer is obviously he hasn’t died yet.

In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world-famous author addresses some of life’s most important questions with acuity and emotional force.

The Speech was compiled into a book: VERY GOOD LIVES presents J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life. How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others?

Transcript J.K. Rowlings 2008 Harvard University Commencement Speech

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

“This is water.”
“This is water.”

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really is the job of a lifetime. And it commences now.

This commencement speech was originally delivered by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College on May 21, 2005. The speech was published as a book, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life.

The speech captures Wallace’s electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others. After his death, it became a treasured piece of writing reprinted in The Wall Street Journal and the London Times, commented on endlessly in blogs, and emailed from friend to friend. The speech is one of my favorite addresses of all time as it contains a profound set of wisdom that might take multiple listen to learn, at least it took me a long time to get what he was trying to convey.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Speech Transcript of David Foster Wallace’s This is Water Speech

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story thing turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre… but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish.

The immediate point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.

In May 2012, bestselling author Neil Gaiman delivered the commencement address at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, in which he shared his thoughts about creativity, bravery, and strength. He encouraged the fledgling painters, musicians, writers, and dreamers to break rules and think outside the box. Most of all, he encouraged them to make good art.

The Commencement Speech was distilled into a book format, Make Good Art, and designed by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd. Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass on Storytelling, is one of my favorite Masterclass session have seen so far; I wrote a blog post about the lessons learned from the course.

Full Transcript of Neil Gaiman’s 2012 University of the Arts Commencement Speech:

I never really expected to find myself giving advice to people graduating from an establishment of higher education.  I never graduated from any such establishment. I never even started at one. I escaped from school as soon as I could, when the prospect of four more years of enforced learning before I’d become the writer I wanted to be was stifling.

I got out into the world, I wrote, and I became a better writer the more I wrote, and I wrote some more, and nobody ever seemed to mind that I was making it up as I went along, they just read what I wrote and they paid for it, or they didn’t, and often they commissioned me to write something else for them.

Yearly graduating students listen to a prepared commencement address by a notable figure in the society such as politicians, business leaders, writers, creatives, or other famous individuals; the graduates can learn a thing or two. Some of the commencement speeches eventually become distilled in book form.

Here are some of the top books inspired by commencement speeches:

In 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas, in a video which immediately went viral. He shared the 10 life lessons he had learned during his Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his long Naval career, but also throughout his life.

This speech was originally delivered by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven to the 2014 graduating class of the University of Texas, He shared the 10 life lessons he had learned during his Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his long Naval career but also throughout his life.

The speech inspired the writing of a book by Admiral Willian titled: Make Your Bed: 10 Life Lessons from a Navy SEAL. Building on the core tenets laid out in his speech, McRaven now recounts tales from his own life and from those of people he encountered during his military service who dealt with hardship and made tough decisions with determination, compassion, honor, and courage.

I’ve never allowed my schooling to get in the way of my education.- Mark Twain

Dr. Rick Rigsby gave a very inspiring commencement speech at the California State University Maritime Academy in 2017. The lecture was titled: Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout. Rick wrote a book inspired by his dad: Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout: How the Timeless Wisdom of One Man Can Impact an Entire Generation.

Rigsby’s father, Roger Marion Rigsby, was the inspiration for his book, Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout. The senior Rigsby left school in the third grade to help out on the family farm and taught himself to read and write. Later, worked as a cook at Cal Maritime. 

Full Transcript of Dr. Rick Rigsby’s The Wisdom of a Third Grade Dropout Speech:

One of the most inspiring commencement speeches of all time on June 12, 2005, Steve Jobs, Late CEO of Apple and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered a very compelling speech to the graduating Stanford University students.

Full Transcript of Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else

Distrust is what I have shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you.

– Charles Feldman

Oprah Winfrey hosts “Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations,” a live event featuring inspiring thought leaders, modern-day influencers, and social game-changers as they discuss the current climate in our culture. Social Scientist and Author Brené Brown shares an anecdote about her third-grade daughter’s struggle with a betrayal of trust. This Super Soul Conversation was originally delivered at the UCLA’s Royce Hall in 2015.

Brené Brown’s Book, Braving the Wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone, expands on the concept of BRAVING, She also mentions BRAVING in her 2015 Book, Rising Stong.

Anatomy of Trust Transcript

Oh, it just feels like an incredible understatement to say how grateful I am to be here with all of you. I feel like I have a relationship with many of you on social media, and you were like, “T-minus two days.” I’m like, “It’s coming! We’re going to be together.” So I’m so grateful to be here with you.