Bumble closed all its offices for a week to help staff with their ‘collective burnout’

whitney wolfe herd bumble ceo founder
Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd.

  • Employees of the dating app are getting a paid week off.
  • The company said its offices closed this week to help staff deal with pandemic-related stress.
  • The company’s head of editorial content cited “collective burnout” in a now-deleted tweet.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Bumble said it was closing all of its offices this week to help staff deal with burnout.

A spokeswoman for the female-led dating app confirmed the weeklong break to Sky News after Clare O’Connor, the company’s head of editorial content, said in a now-deleted tweet that the company’s around 700 staff were getting a paid week off.

O’Connor said the company’s CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, had “correctly intuited our collective burnout.”

It is not clear why O’Connor’s tweet has been deleted.

The spokeswoman told Sky News: “Like everyone, our global team has had a very challenging time during the pandemic.

“As vaccination rates have increased and restriction have begun to ease, we wanted to give our teams around the world an opportunity to shut off and focus on themselves for a week.”

Employees will be back at work on June 28, Sky News reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Racial disparities have reduced Black life expectancy and left more than 3 million Black families in the US with a negative net worth, warns a new McKinsey report

More than 3 million Black American families have a negative net worth, according to a new McKinsey study.
Black Americans continue to face a disproportionately harsh economic situation, according to a new study from McKinsey & Co.

  • A study released by McKinsey & Co. illustrates the harsh economic reality faced by Black Americans.
  • More than 3 million Black American households were found to have a negative net worth.
  • One key cause is that Black Americans command single-digit shares of high paying jobs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On the eve of the holiday Juneteenth, which celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States, management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has warned that economic disparities facing Black Americans have stranded millions with negative net worths and reduced their life expectancies.

The new research, which underscores the harsh systemic challenges that continue to encumber the Black community, points to several factors.

For one, McKinsey said, Black workers comprise small, single-digit shares of the total number of professionals in highly-paid careers like physicians (5%) and software developers (4.5%), the global management consultant found.

It’s also tougher for members of the Black community to rise through the ranks of corporate America. For every 100 men in the US who are promoted into managerial positions, just 58 Black women are promoted into management roles, according to a study by LeanIn cited by McKinsey.

And while nearly 13% percent of the US private sector workforce is composed of Black workers, that demographic is pulling in just 9.6% of total US wages.

Perhaps most striking of the study’s findings were data points like this one: In a world in which racial pay gaps didn’t exist, Black wages in the US would be $220 billion higher annually, according to the study, which was previously reported by CNN.

What’s more, 19% of Black families – about 3.5 million in all – are now hindered by a negative net worth as a result of carrying excess debt, as compared to just 8% of white families who are in the same position, McKinsey said.

Among American families that do count a positive net worth, white families have a median net worth of $188,000, as compared to Black families, whose median net worth is $24,000.

The pandemic has inflicted further economic harm on Black Americans

McKinsey said that the coronavirus crisis has worsened the Black community’s economic anguish.

Indeed, the firm said that the fallout from COVID-19 has disproportionally cost Black workers their jobs; deprived them of their savings; and exposed them to significant health risks, given that frontline jobs which were largely held by Black employees left many workers vulnerable to the virus.

Geographically, the McKinsey research found that Black workers are primarily spread throughout southern states.

More than 56% of the Black labor force lives in states in the country’s southern region, like Texas, Florida, and Georgia. That left the authors to suggest that other regions, like states in the west and Pacific, would have to rethink their recruiting strategies to attract Black talent.

“Black workers are underrepresented in the highest-growth geographies and the highest-paying industries,” the study authors wrote. “They are overrepresented in low-growth geographies and in frontline jobs, which tend to pay less.”

The McKinsey study is far from the first to shed light on Black America’s economic reality.

One Pew Research Center analysis from 2018 looked at the standard income ranges of earners in both the Black and white communities in America.

The analysis found that earners at the 90th percentile of the Black community’s range generated just 68% of what earners at the 90th percentile of white community’s earnings spectrum did.

Looking forward, the authors of the McKinsey study said changes based on the findings could help make strides in the right direction.

“Addressing the wage disparities described in our research alone could propel an estimated two million Black Americans into the middle class for the first time,” they wrote. “This could reverse current trends, with cascading effects lifting the prospects of the next generation even future.”

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Wall Street’s gatekeepers: 350 headhunters hiring for jobs in trading, dealmaking, and investing

headhunters and recruiters sourcing talent for wall street 4x3
Business Insider compiled top headhunting firms and Wall Street recruiters by specialty.

  • Wall Street hiring has been red-hot in recent months.
  • Insider has compiled a searchable list of more than 350 Wall Street recruiters.
  • The database includes headhunters who focus on traders, dealmakers, portfolio managers, and bankers.

Wall Street headhunters have been plenty busy this year.

Buy-side trading firms have been snapping up a slew of star derivatives traders from investment banks. Top healthcare bankers are in high demand, with one recruiter describing search requests from clients as being “extremely, extremely active.” And the market for quant and data-science specialists has perhaps never been hotter.

Business Insider spoke with its network of sources and mined online data from over 80 recruiting firms to compile a list of more than 350 headhunters that source talent for Wall Street firms.

Our database includes recruiters who focus on front-office investment professionals: traders, dealmakers, portfolio managers, and investment bankers.

SUBSCRIBE NOW TO ACCESS OUR DATABASE: 350 headhunters to know if you want to land a job in trading, dealmaking, and investment management

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Leaders from Paycom and The Kraft Group explain how they use technology to improve the employee experience

Speakers at our Insider event, Transforming HR in the Digital Era
Insider’s Aman Kidwai speaks to Miranda Blaiklock (c) from Kraft, and Holly Faurot from Paycom

  • Employers have a responsibility to hollistically support employees.
  • Executives from Paycom and The Kraft Group shared their thoughts on the role of technology in improving the employee experience.
  • The conversation took place at the Insider event “Transforming HR in the Digital Era” on June 15, 2021.
  • Click here to watch a recording of the event.

Miranda Blaiklock knows HR teams didn’t have a playbook for handling the people and business challenges during the pandemic.

Chief among those challenges is the responsibility to holistically support employees, said Blaiklock who is the director of benefits, compensation, and HR information systems (HRIS) at The Kraft Group.

“The blur between working nine-to-five has really changed in this new model,” Blaiklock said, speaking at an Insider event on Tuesday.

This goal of holistically supporting workers taught HR teams to invest in technology that can help make employee’s lives easier. For example, Blaiklock said the company recently added a tool that allows employees to clock in for work or log PTO from their phones. It works just like consumer technology, she added.

Holly Faurot, chief sales officer at Paycom, noted this trend as well. Over the course of the pandemic, she said “employees had an increased amount of interaction with consumer technology. We were utilizing apps more than ever last year.”

This increased use of technology in their personal life may be changing expectations for the tech they use at work.

“Employees are coming back into the workplace now with that same type of expectation,” Faurot said. “They want to have the same type of experience that they’ve had with Amazon or maybe their local pizza place. That’s something that companies need to realize. There’s a very, very low tolerance of complexity for employees.”

Using data and feedback to make decisions

Another way The Kraft Group monitors employee satisfaction with technology is through a digital experience score provided through Paycom. The experience score is a measure of how their HRIS are performing, she explained.

“It is a little bit like a game, so just after each month we just take it just like the Patriots just won a game,” she said, referring to the NFL team whose operations are run by the Kraft Group. “We go and look at our game film and the DDX score and see how we could do it better next month, so it’s been a great tool for us and from a process improvement standpoint. It’s really been a game changer.”

Blaiklock also uses HRIS data to make the business case for different employee decisions, such as changing schedules or offering more flexibility. Data helps Blaiklock make the case to finance when they insitute a new workplace policy.

“I think that most HR teams really have to straddle that line of being both the employee, advocate, but also wearing the business hat and I think the challenge with that is being able to speak the same language,” she said.

From Faurot’s perspective, employee data provides plenty of feedback for business leaders to act on. She recommends employers take the time to look closely at how employees are using the technology and even run focus groups.

“Make it easy, lower the complexity and you’re going to see a huge return on that investment,” Faurot said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The out-of-office message you need if your company finally caught up with the times and gave you Juneteenth off

juneteenth parade
Elected officials, community leaders, youth, and drum and marching bands take part in the second-annual Juneteenth Parade in Philadelphia, PA, on June 22, 2019 in the week that Juneteenth was declared an official state holiday by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

  • Insider is taking Juneteenth observed off tomorrow.
  • I wrote an out-of-office message to educate people and let them know I won’t be checking email.
  • Juneteenth recognizes the end of slavery in the US on June 19, 1865.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Insider is taking Juneteenth observed off. To prepare, I crafted an out-of-office message to let my contacts know I won’t be checking email tomorrow – and educate them on what the historic event is about.

Juneteenth recognizes the end of slavery in the US, when the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas (then the most remote Confederate state) on June 19, 1865.

I took my usual OOO template and added a link that explains what Juneteenth is. Here’s what I wrote:

Hi,

Thanks for your email! As with a growing number of companies across the country, Insider Inc. has closed today for Juneteenth observed.

I encourage you to read the linked article on the holiday if you’d like to know why this decision was made and why it’s so important to the company and its staff.

I’ll be sure to respond to your message when I’m back in the office on Monday, 6/21.

Big-name companies such as Twitter and Nike have declared Juneteenth a company holiday as corporate America faces backlash over racial inequality. Other organizations like Microsoft have designated it a “day of listening, learning, and engagement” and canceled meetings.

45 states recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. The House just passed a bill declaring it a national holiday – it now sits on President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to land a job at Blackstone, according to the private-equity giant’s president and its HR head

blackstone young professionals 4x3
Blackstone president and COO Jon Gray was hired as an analyst at the firm in 1992

Jon Gray still remembers what it was like when he was hired as an entry-level analyst at a seven-year-old private-equity shop in New York City in 1992.

“It was a tiny place … I think there were 80 or 90 people,” Gray said of Blackstone, a firm that would go on to become the world’s largest alternative investment manager and, during Gray’s time as head of global real estate, its largest property owner.

Fresh out of the University of Pennsylvania, Gray was interviewed by the Blackstone cofounders Stephen Schwarzman and Pete Peterson themselves. He couldn’t have predicted that he would eventually be named Blackstone’s president and chief operating officer in 2018, becoming one of the most powerful executives on Wall Street.

“For me, a kid from suburban Chicago, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this seems really exciting.’ And it was obviously terrifying being interviewed,” he recalled. “And by the way, starting was terrifying. I remember being so nervous having my first job here.”

Granted, private-equity firms’ associate hiring is looking a little different than in recent years. Recruiters first delayed the kickoff of the ultra-competitive process in the fall of 2020 in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Now the traditional on-cycle associate recruiting process likely won’t start until late summer or early fall 2021, Insider previously reported.

In October of 2020, we spoke with Gray, headhunters who recruit for the firm, and Blackstone’s global head of human resources to learn what it takes to stand out. From how to ace interviews to deals you need to be familiar with, here’s what they told us.

SUBSCRIBE NOW TO READ THE FULL STORY: Blackstone president Jon Gray reveals how to stand out to land a job at the ultra-competitive firm

Read the original article on Business Insider

Everything to know about Amazon’s advertising business, which is $21 billion and growing

amazon advertising executive 2x1

Marketers cut ad spending in the pandemic, but e-commerce advertising has boomed as people shop more from home – with Amazon leading the pack.

EMarketer said Amazon claimed 10.3% of the US digital ad market in 2020, up from 7.8% in 2019 – competing with Google and Facebook for ad budgets. That growth has attracted Walmart, Instacart, Walgreens and other retailers that have joined Amazon in vying for a slice of the pie.

Here’s the latest on what we know about Amazon’s moves to grow its advertising business.

How big is advertising for Amazon?

Amazon made about $21.5 billion from advertising in 2020, up from roughly $9.3 billion in the year-ago period.

While that amount is a tiny sliver of Amazon’s revenue from retail sales and Amazon Web Services, its cloud business, advertising is one of its fastest-growing areas. The tech giant continues to cut into advertisers’ search budgets that mostly go to Google.

The pandemic’s impact on Amazon

While advertisers have slashed TV and some digital budgets during the pandemic, Amazon’s advertising has grown as people do more of their shopping online. Amazon has also increased the advertising potential of Twitch, its live-streaming service whose viewership has grown during the pandemic.

Ad tech’s role in Amazon’s ad business

Advertisers and sellers often cite a lack of data and tools as challenges in advertising on Amazon, which has given rise to a cottage industry of firms that specialize in helping marketers navigate the site. Meanwhile, Amazon has pushed further into programmatic advertising with its OTT arm that sells ads in some Fire TV apps.

Ad measurement

Amazon has loads of data about how people shop and has offered advertisers more data to help buy and target ads. Still, advertisers say that Amazon’s data can be limited and continue to find new ways to measure ads.

Who runs Amazon’s ad business?

Amazon is notoriously secretive as a workplace. As Amazon’s advertising ambitions have grown, it’s cultivated a team of execs who pitch advertisers on its ad business.

They include several longtime Amazon employees, including Colleen Aubrey, who is part of Amazon’s executive suite. Amazon has also hired big names from ad agencies and brands over the past few years to build teams that work directly with advertisers.

How to get a job at Amazon

Amazon is consistently looking for advertising talent, but its heavy focus on culture makes it hard for outsiders to break into the company.

We talked to insiders about how to ace the interview process.

Read the original article on Business Insider

25 high-paying jobs of the future that don’t require a college degree

First-Line Supervisors of Transportation and Material Moving Workers
First-line supervisor of transportation and material moving workers is one career that doesn’t require a college degree and has a bright future ahead.

  • Not all high-paying jobs that are likely to see big employment growth by 2029 need a college degree.
  • We looked at these growing jobs that don’t require a college degree using wage data and employment projections.
  • Here are 25 high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree and that have bright futures ahead.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
25. Production, planning, and expediting clerks

two workers talking and taking inventory in a warehouse

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 14,800

Median annual earnings in 2020: $49,640

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

24. Machinists

machinists

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 16,300

Median annual earnings in 2020: $45,840

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

23. Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers

Air condition technician service checking air conditioner on the wall building

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 15,100

Median annual earnings in 2020: $50,590

Typical educational requirements: Postsecondary nondegree award

22. First-line supervisors of housekeeping and janitorial workers

hotel housekeeping cart

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 19,400

Median annual earnings in 2020: $42,040

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

21. Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives (except technical and scientific products)

worker in distribution warehouse

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 13,200

Median annual earnings in 2020: $62,070

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

20. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators

construction site

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 16,900

Median annual earnings in 2020: $49,770

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

19. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers

mechanics reading manual

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 13,300

Median annual earnings in 2020: $70,240

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

18. Bus drivers

bus driver

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 20,800

Median annual earnings in 2020: $45,900

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

17. First-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers

landscaping

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 19,400

Median annual earnings in 2020: $51,010

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

16. Firefighters

firefighter

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 20,300

Median annual earnings in 2020: $52,500

Typical educational requirements: Postsecondary nondegree award

15. Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

plumber

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 20,900

Median annual earnings in 2020: $56,330

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

14. Flight attendants

flight attendant

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 21,100

Median annual earnings in 2020: $59,050

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

13. All other medical dosimetrists, medical records specialists, and health technologists and technicians

medical dosimetrists

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 29,000

Median annual earnings in 2020: $44,090

Typical educational requirements: Postsecondary nondegree award

12. First-line supervisors of transportation and material-moving workers (except aircraft cargo handling supervisors)

First-Line Supervisors of Transportation and Material Moving Workers
First-line supervisor of transportation and material moving workers is one career that doesn’t require a college degree and has a bright future ahead.

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 23,500

Median annual earnings in 2020: $54,870

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

11. Insurance sales agents

sales agent

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 27,500

Median annual earnings in 2020: $52,180

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

10. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers

truck driver

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 30,600

Median annual earnings in 2020: $47,130

Typical educational requirements: Postsecondary nondegree award

9. First-line supervisors of personal service and entertainment and recreation workers

workers talking to each other in a hair salon and a woman sitting in a salon chair

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 35,000

Median annual earnings in 2020: $42,000

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

8. Massage therapists

massage

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 34,400

Median annual earnings in 2020: $43,620

Typical educational requirements: Postsecondary nondegree award

7. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers

construction managers

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 33,000

Median annual earnings in 2020: $67,840

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

6. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers

police

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 39,100

Median annual earnings in 2020: $65,540

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

5. Computer user support specialists

computer user support

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 54,800

Median annual earnings in 2020: $52,690

Typical educational requirements: Some college, no degree

4. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

nurse taking blood pressure

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 65,700

Median annual earnings in 2020: $48,820

Typical educational requirements: Postsecondary nondegree award

3. Industrial machinery mechanics

fixing production line industrial machine

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 62,300

Median annual earnings in 2020: $55,490

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

2. Electricians

electrician

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 62,200

Median annual earnings in 2020: $56,900

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

1. Sales representatives of services (except advertising, insurance, financial services, and travel)

Sales rep

Projected new positions between 2019 and 2029: 64,200

Median annual earnings in 2020: $58,770

Typical educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

Method and data source

To find out which high-paying jobs are likely to grow over the next several years, we used the latest employment projections and median annual wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using 2019-2029 employment projections and May 2020 annual wages, we calculated the geometric mean for each occupation to allow for an overall ranking of occupations.

Since we want to focus on high-paying jobs, we looked at only those that make above the median wage among all occupations of $41,950. To look at occupations that don’t require a college degree, we then found the highest-ranking jobs on our overall list where the typical required education is a high school diploma or its equivalent, postsecondary degree award, some college but with no degree, or has no formal education requirement. 

Some of the following jobs are expected to grow above the average among all occupations from 2019 to 2029, at 3.7%. One of those especially quickly growing occupations is industrial machinery mechanics, which is expected to see employment growth of 62,300 new jobs between 2019 and 2029, or a 15.6% expansion. 

It is important to note that the estimates developed by BLS use historical data and do not take into account the effects of the pandemic on employment, per a BLS press release regarding the recent employment projections.

Read the original article on Business Insider

After a year of navigating COVID, American workers are among the most stressed-out in the world, a new poll shows

Employee Burnout
  • Workers worldwide reported increased worry, stress, anger and sadness in 2020 in a new Gallup poll.
  • Fifty-seven percent of US and Canadian workers had high daily stress, above the 43% world average.
  • In the US and Canada, employed women and workers under 40 reported more stress than their peers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After a grueling year of work amid a pandemic, American workers are some of the most stressed in the world, according to a new Gallup poll.

Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace: 2021 Report” found that workers in the US and Canada reported the highest levels of daily stress in the world last year, with 57% percent of US and Canadian workers experiencing high day-to-day stress.

Between the two countries, Canadian workers reported greater daily stress and worry than their US counterparts.

Globally, a record 43% of workers reported a lot of daily stress last year, which is up from 38% feeling in 2019, raising concerns about burnout after a particularly difficult year at work.

US and Canadian workers were also the most stressed in the world in pre-pandemic 2019, according to Gallup.

As work-life boundaries collapsed with the growth of remote work, and essential workers faced the constant threat of contracting the coronavirus on the job, employees around the world reported feeling higher worry, stress, anger and sadness in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Western Europe was an outlier, with workers there reporting less stress and anger in 2020 than in 2019.

Forty-five percent of all people polled, both working and not, said their lives were affected “a lot” by the pandemic. Of the workers, half said they got less money than usual from their employers or businesses because of the pandemic. Also due to COVID-19, 49% of employees worked fewer hours, and 53% temporarily stopped working. Just under one-third of workers worldwide lost their job or business due to the pandemic.

In the US and Canada, working women and employees under 40 experienced higher daily stress than their peers.

Sixty-two percent of female employees in the US and Canada reported feeling stress a lot of the day, compared to 52% of their male counterparts. This difference highlights the tendency for childcare and household duties to fall to women. This affected many women when schools closed during the pandemic, leaving them with the responsibility of caring of children stuck at home for remote learning while still needing to tend to their own remote work.

Gallup reported that this trend of working women experiencing high stress is “nearly universal” around the world.

Meanwhile, 64% of US and Canadian workers under 40 reported experiencing stress a lot of the day, compared with 51% of their global counterparts over 40. Gallup said childcare may again be a cause of the gap; younger workers, after all, may have had to take care of younger children, who often require more attention than older children, in the pandemic.

Gallup said another reason for the generational divide could be that older adults may have more of “a ‘this too shall pass’ mindset from previous life experiences that made them more psychologically resilient in crisis.” In addition, because younger workers have generally been in the workforce for less time, they may have seen the pandemic as a greater threat to their careers than older workers did.

Read the original article on Business Insider

18 valuable pieces of advice from the best graduation speeches of all time

issa rae
Issa Rae.

“Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.” – Shonda Rhimes’ 2014 speech at Dartmouth College

shonda rhimes dartmouth
Shonda Rhimes at Dartmouth College.

The world’s most powerful showrunner told grads to stop dreaming and start doing.

The world has plenty of dreamers, she said. “And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing.” She pushed grads to be those people.

“Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer,” she advised — whether or not you know what your “passion” might be. “The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real,” she said.

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence.” – Will Ferrell’s 2017 speech at the University of Southern California

will ferrell usc
Will Ferrell at the University of Southern California.

Comedian Will Ferrell, best known for lead roles in films like “Anchorman,” “Elf,” and “Talledega Nights,” delivered a thoughtful speech to USC’s graduating class of 2018.

“No matter how cliché it may sound, you will never truly be successful until you learn to give beyond yourself,” he said. “Empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence, and that’s what Viv and I try to teach our boys. Hey Matthias, get your hands of Axel right now! Stop it. I can see you. Okay? Dr. Ferrell’s watching you.”

He also offered some words of encouragement: “For many of you who maybe don’t have it all figured out, it’s okay. That’s the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result.”

He even finished off with a stirring rendition of the Whitney Houston classic, “I Will Always Love You.” He was, of course, referring to the graduates.

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“As you leave this room don’t forget to ask yourself what you can offer to make the ‘club of life’ go up? How can you make this place better, in spite of your circumstances?” – Issa Rae’s 2021 speech at Stanford University

Insecure HBO Issa Rae
Issa Rae in HBO’s “Insecure.”

In the speech, Rae pulled lyrics from Boosie Badazz, Foxx, and Webbie’s “Wipe Me Down,” which she said she and her friends played on a boombox during the “Wacky Walk” portion of their own 2007 graduation ceremony at Stanford, to illustrate the importance of seeing “every opportunity as a VIP — as someone who belongs and deserves to be here.” 

Rae particularly drew attention to one line from the song that reads, “I pull up at the club, VIP, gas tank on E, but all dranks on me. Wipe me down.”

“To honor the classic song that has guided my own life — as you leave this room, don’t forget to ask yourself what you can offer to make the ‘club of life’ go up. How can you make this place better, in spite of your circumstances?” she said. “And as you figure those things out, don’t forget to step back and wipe yourselves down, wipe each other down and go claim what’s yours like the VIPs that you are.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Not everything that happens to us happens because of us.” – Sheryl Sandberg’s 2016 speech at UC Berkeley

sheryl sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg speaks during a forum in San Francisco.

During the Facebook COO’s deeply personal commencement speech about resilience at UC Berkeley, she spoke on how understanding the three Ps that largely determine our ability to deal with setbacks helped her cope with the loss of her husband, Dave Goldberg.

She outlined the three Ps as:

· Personalization: Whether you believe an event is your fault.
· Pervasiveness: Whether you believe an event will affect all areas of your life.
· Permanence: How long you think the negative feelings will last.

“This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us,” Sandberg said about personalization. It took understanding this for Sandberg to accept that she couldn’t have prevented her husband’s death. “His doctors had not identified his coronary artery disease. I was an economics major; how could I have?”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“If you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options.” – David Foster Wallace’s 2005 speech at Kenyon College

David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College.

In his now-legendary “This Is Water” speech, the author urged grads to be a little less arrogant and a little less certain about their beliefs.

“This is not a matter of virtue,” Wallace said. “It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting, which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.”

Doing that will be hard, he said. “It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat won’t want to.”

But breaking free of that lens can allow you to truly experience life, to consider possibilities beyond your default reactions.

“If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable,” he said. “But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron’s 1996 speech at Wellesley College

nora ephron
Nora Ephron.

Addressing her fellow alums with trademark wit, Ephron reflected on all the things that had changed since her days at Wellesley — and all the things that hadn’t.

“My class went to college in the era when you got a master’s degrees in teaching because it was ‘something to fall back on’ in the worst case scenario, the worst case scenario being that no one married you and you actually had to go to work,” she said. But while things had changed drastically by 1996, Ephron warned grads not to “delude yourself that the powerful cultural values that wrecked the lives of so many of my classmates have vanished from the earth.” 

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim,” she said. “Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Our problems are manmade – therefore, they can be solved by man.” – John F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech at American University

john f kennedy speech
John F. Kennedy at American University.

Against the tumult of the early ’60s, Kennedy inspired graduates to strive for what may be the biggest goal of them all: world peace.

“Too many of us think it is impossible,” he said. “Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable — that mankind is doomed — that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.”

Our job is not to accept that, he urged. “Our problems are manmade — therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.” 

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Err in the direction of kindness.” – George Saunders’ 2013 speech at Syracuse University

George Saunders
George Saunders.

Saunders stressed what turns out to be a deceptively simple idea: the importance of kindness. “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness,” he said. “Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.” 

But kindness is hard, the writer said. It’s not necessarily our default. In part, he explained, kindness comes with age. “It might be a simple matter of attrition: as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish — how illogical, really.” The challenge he laid out: Don’t wait. “Speed it along,” he urged. “Start right now.”

“There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness,” Saunders said. “But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.”

“Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.” – Stephen Colbert’s 2011 speech at Northwestern University

Stephen colbert
Stephen Colbert.

The comedian and host of the “Late Show” told grads they should never feel like they have it all figured out.

“[W]hatever your dream is right now, if you don’t achieve it, you haven’t failed, and you’re not some loser. But just as importantly — and this is the part I may not get right and you may not listen to — if you do get your dream, you are not a winner,” Colbert said.

It’s a lesson he learned from his improv days. When actors are working together properly, he explained, they’re all serving each other, playing off each other on a common idea. “And life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along. And like improv, you cannot win your life,” he said.

Red the transcript and watch the video.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” – Steve Jobs’ 2005 speech at Stanford University

Steve Jobs Commencement HD
Steve Jobs at Stanford University.

In a remarkably personal address, the Apple founder and CEO advised graduates to live each day as if it were their last.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life,” he said. He’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year earlier.

“Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important,” he continued. “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Jobs said this mindset will make you understand the importance of your work. “And the only way to do great work is to love what you do,” he said. “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Settling means giving in to someone else’s vision of your life — a temptation Jobs warned against. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“We can learn to live without the sick excitement, without the kick of having scores to settle.” – Kurt Vonnegut’s 1999 speech at Agnes Scott College

Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut at Agnes Scott College.

The famed author became one of the most sought-after commencement speakers in the United States for many years, thanks to his insights on morality and cooperation. At Agnes Scott, he asked graduates to make the world a better place by respecting humanity — and living without hate. Hammurabi lived 4,000 years ago, he pointed out. We can stop living by his code.

“We may never dissuade leaders of our nation or any other nation from responding vengefully, violently, to every insult or injury. In this, the Age of Television, they will continue to find irresistible the temptation to become entertainers, to compete with movies by blowing up bridges and police stations and factories and so on,” he said.

“But in our personal lives, our inner lives, at least, we can learn to live without the sick excitement, without the kick of having scores to settle with this particular person, or that bunch of people, or that particular institution or race or nation. And we can then reasonably ask forgiveness for our trespasses, since we forgive those who trespass against us.”

The result, he said, would be a happier, more peaceful, and more complete existence.

Read the partial transcript and watch the video.

“If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.” – Oprah Winfrey’s 2008 speech at Stanford University

oprah commencement
Oprah Winfrey at Stanford University.

The media mogul told Stanford’s class of 2008 that they can’t sacrifice happiness for money. “When you’re doing the work you’re meant to do, it feels right and every day is a bonus, regardless of what you’re getting paid,” she said.

She said you can feel when you’re doing the right thing in your gut. “What I know now is that feelings are really your GPS system for life. When you’re supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know,” she said.

She explained that doing what your instincts tells you to do will make you more successful because it will drive you to work harder and will save you from debilitating stress.

“If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. That’s the lesson. And that lesson alone will save you, my friends, a lot of grief,” Winfrey said. “Even doubt means don’t. This is what I’ve learned. There are many times when you don’t know what to do. When you don’t know what to do, get still, get very still, until you do know what to do.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“The difference between triumph and defeat, you’ll find, isn’t about willingness to take risks – it’s about mastery of rescue.” – Atul Gawande’s 2012 speech at Williams College

Atul Gawande
Atul Gawande.

Pushing beyond the tired “take risks!” commencement cliché, the surgeon, writer, and activist took a more nuanced approach: what matters isn’t just that you take risks; it’s how you take them.

To explain, he turned to medicine.”Scientists have given a new name to the deaths that occur in surgery after something goes wrong — whether it is an infection or some bizarre twist of the stomach,” said Gawande. “They call them a ‘Failure to Rescue.’ More than anything, this is what distinguished the great from the mediocre. They didn’t fail less. They rescued more.”

What matters, he said, isn’t the failure — that’s inevitable — but what happens next. “A failure often does not have to be a failure at all. However, you have to be ready for it. Will you admit when things go wrong? Will you take steps to set them right? — because the difference between triumph and defeat, you’ll find, isn’t about willingness to take risks. It’s about mastery of rescue.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Your job is to create a world that lasts forever.” – Stephen Spielberg’s 2016 speech at Harvard

Steven Spielberg Harvard commencement
Steven Spielberg at Harvard.

“This world is full of monsters,” director Steven Spielberg told Harvard graduates, and it’s the next generation’s job to vanquish them.

“My job is to create a world that lasts two hours. Your job is to create a world that lasts forever,” he said.

These monsters manifest themselves as racism, homophobia, and ethnic, class, political, and religious hatred, he said, noting that there is no difference between them: “It is all one big hate.”

Spielberg said that hate is born of an “us versus them” mentality, and thinking instead about people as “we” requires replacing fear with curiosity.

“‘Us’ and ‘them’ will find the ‘we’ by connecting with each other, and by believing that we’re members of the same tribe, and by feeling empathy for every soul,” he said.

Read the transcript and watch the video. 

“There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized.” – Conan O’Brien’s 2011 speech at Dartmouth College

conan o'brien dartmouth
Conan O’Brien at Dartmouth College.

In his hilarious 2011 address to Dartmouth College, the late-night host spoke about his brief run on “The Tonight Show” before being replaced by Jay Leno. O’Brien described the fallout as the lowest point in his life, feeling very publicly humiliated and defeated. But once he got back on his feet and went on a comedy tour across the country, he discovered something important.

“There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized,” he said.

He explained that for decades the ultimate goal of every comedian was to host “The Tonight Show,” and like many comedians, he thought achieving that goal would define his success. “But that is not true. No specific job or career goal defines me, and it should not define you,” he said.

He noted that disappointment is a part of life, and the beauty of it is that it can help you gain clarity and conviction.

“It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique,” O’Brien said. “It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can be a catalyst for profound re-invention.”

 O’Brien said that dreams constantly evolve, and your ideal career path at 22 years old will not necessarily be the same at 32 or 42 years old. 

“I am here to tell you that whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change. And that’s okay,” he said.

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“You are your own stories.” – Toni Morrison’s 2004 speech at Wellesley College

Toni Morrison Graduation Wellesley
Toni Morrison at Wellesley College.

Instead of the usual commencement platitudes — none of which, Morrison argued, are true anyway — the Nobel Prize-winning writer asked grads to create their own narratives. 

“What is now known is not all what you are capable of knowing,” she said. “You are your own stories and therefore free to imagine and experience what it means to be human without wealth. What it feels like to be human without domination over others, without reckless arrogance, without fear of others unlike you, without rotating, rehearsing and reinventing the hatreds you learned in the sandbox.”

In your own story, you can’t control all the characters, Morrison said. “The theme you choose may change or simply elude you. But being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who you are and what you mean.” Being a storyteller reflects a deep optimism, she said — and as a storyteller herself, “I see your life as already artful, waiting, just waiting and ready for you to make it art.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“I wake up in a house that was built by slaves.” – Michelle Obama’s 2016 speech at the City College of New York

michelle obama city college
Michelle Obama at the City College of New York.

In her 23rd and final commencement speech as First Lady, Michelle Obama urged the Class of 2016 to pursue happiness and live out whatever version of the American Dream is right for them.

“It’s the story that I witness every single day when I wake up in a house that was built by slaves,” she said, “and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, black young women — head off to school waving goodbye to their father, the President of the United States, the son of a man from Kenya who came here to America for the same reasons as many of you: To get an education and improve his prospects in life.”

“So, graduates, while I think it’s fair to say that our Founding Fathers never could have imagined this day,” she continued, “all of you are very much the fruits of their vision. Their legacy is very much your legacy and your inheritance. And don’t let anybody tell you differently. You are the living, breathing proof that the American Dream endures in our time. It’s you.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Call upon your grit. Try something.” – Tim Cook’s 2019 speech at Tulane University

Tim cook tulane
Tim Cook at Tulane University.

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered the 2019 commencement speech for the graduates of Tulane University, offering valuable advice on success.

“We forget sometimes that our preexisting beliefs have their own force of gravity,” Cook said. “Today, certain algorithms pull toward you the things you already know, believe, or like, and they push away everything else. Push back.”

“You may succeed. You may fail. But make it your life’s work to remake the world because there is nothing more beautiful or more worthwhile than working to leave something better for humanity.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

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