Graduation season is in full swing—and while many celebrities, politicians, and CEOs are giving commencement addresses—a trio of billionaires are dishing out some straight talk on careers, getting ahead in life and how to do what you love.
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Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is worth an estimated $61.9 billion according to Forbes, gave his first commencement address at Harvard University on Thursday. Ironically, he dropped out nearly 12 years ago to focus on building his social media empire.
The 33-year old Zuckerberg told the newly minted graduates that they are entering a world that desperately needs “purpose.”
“But I’m not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose—we’re millennials—we try to do that instinctively. Instead, I’m here to tell you that finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose,” Zuckerberg told the crowd.
He then went on to urge the next generation to “get started” and don’t focus on succeeding or making money.
“I know maybe you’re thinking, I don’t know how to build a dam. I don’t know how to get a million people involved in anything. Well, let me tell you a secret, no one does when they begin. Ideas don’t come out fully formed, they only become clearer as you work on them, you just have to get started. If I had known everything about connecting people before I got started, I would have never built Facebook,” he said.
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Additionally, he warned the crowd to be prepared to be “misunderstood” and many critics may even call you "crazy" even though you’re right.
Earlier this week, media mogul and billionaire Oprah Winfrey gave similar career advice to a crowd full of female graduates at Smith College, the private, independent women’s liberal arts school in Northampton, Massachusetts.
The former talk show queen, who is estimated to be worth $2.8 billion—and ranked No. 3 on Forbes’ list of richest self-made women—urged female graduates to “shift the paradigm to service” not necessary success or wealth.
"Ask the question: How can I be used? Life, use me. Show me through my talents and my gifts, show me through what I know, what I need to know, what I have yet to learn, how to be used in the greater service to life. You ask that question and I guarantee you, Smithies, the answer will be returned and rewarded to you with fulfillment, which is really the major definition of success for me,” Winfrey told the crowd.
"When you can create your work and your life based on an intention to serve with purpose—make it your intention to serve through your life with purpose—you will have a blessed life,” she added.
Earlier this month, President Trump delivered his first commencement address as commander in chief at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He also shared Zuckerberg’s views of being “misunderstood,” telling graduates that in fact critics helped him succeed in the end.
“The fact is, no one has achieved anything significant without a chorus of critics standing on the sidelines explaining why it can't be done. Nothing is easier or more pathetic than being a critic. The future belongs to the people who follow their heart no matter what the critics say because they truly believe in their vision,” Trump told the grads. He made similar comments at the Coast Guard’s commencement in New London, Connecticut the following Wednesday.
Then the real estate magnate, who was considered a long shot to win the White House, came full circle telling grads to “never quit” and “relish the opportunity to be an outsider.”
“Embrace that label — being an outsider is fine, embrace the label — because it's the outsiders who change the world and who make a real and lasting difference. The more that a broken system tells you that you're wrong, the more certain you should be that you must keep pushing ahead, you must keep pushing forward. And always have the courage to be yourself. Most importantly, you have to do what you love.”