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.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why you should try Melinda Gates’ ‘word of the year’ strategy instead of setting big, lofty goals

Melinda French Gates
Melinda French Gates.

  • Big, lofty goals can be demotivating – try focusing on how you want to feel in the moment instead.
  • Melinda Gates does this by choosing a ‘word of the year’ instead of making New Year’s resolutions.
  • Gates says focusing her attention on the moment creates more powerful change than a long-term goal.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Those who dream big dreams are often advised to set big goals. But there are a few big problems with big goals. First, they can be demotivating. People stumble and give up hope, or feel their destination is too far away to even attempt to reach.

Second, big goals can actually turn into distracting daydreams, science shows. Rather than do the hard work that’s required to reach their aims, people imagine their fabulous future and actually end up less hungry to make it happen in reality.

Finally, big goals often take a long time to achieve. By the time we reach our destination, we’ve changed so much that we no longer even want whatever it is we’ve been working so hard for.

So what works better than big, fixed, long-term goals? Melinda Gates and others, including some of the world’s happiest people, offer the same suggestions, and you’re going to love how simple they are.

Read more: Coaches, founders, and executives share how they’re setting goals this year

Why you need a ‘word of the day’

Writing on Fast Company recently, Michelle Wax, the founder of the American Happiness Project, explained the lessons she learned from interviewing 500 exceptionally happy people. Among her takeaways was the immense value of a “words to live by list.”

“Often, people think once you achieve a life goal, you’ll achieve long-term happiness, but that wasn’t the case for the majority of people I spoke with. For them, happiness was a muscle they needed to continuously exercise and reevaluate,” Wax wrote.

Rather than rely just on big, distant goals, the super joyful focused on how they wanted to feel and behave in the moment. “List a handful of words that embody the emotions and experiences you want to be feeling,” Wax instructed. “Once you have your list, you can start to shift your activities, thoughts, and content to align with those words.”

Process beats vision.

As soon as I read this advice, it struck me that I’d heard it before, and not just from some extremely cheerful friend. Melinda French Gates, the billionaire philanthropist and soon-to-be ex-wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, once made a very similar point though in a different context.

As Gates explained a few years ago on LinkedIn, she’s not a big fan of the subset of goals known as New Year’s resolutions. Instead, she sets herself a “word of the year.” Previous choices include grace, spacious, and gentle. Each “encapsulates my aspirations for the twelve months ahead,” she wrote.

Like the exceptionally happy folks Wax spoke to, Gates believes focusing her attention on the feelings she wants to experience moment to moment is a more powerful way to change her behavior than a long-term goal. Gates, for instance, recalled her touchstone word grace “during difficult conversations, long days at the office, busy trips with our foundation. … When I was upset or distressed, I whispered it to myself: ‘Grace.'”

While it can be hard to translate distant goals into daily behavior, a word of the day (or year) or personal mantra of some kind is always there to help you make sure your conduct lines up with your values and aspirations. And as “Atomic Habits” author James Clear points out, when it comes to achieving great things, a focus on the daily process will get you further than a focus on the end goal itself.

Or to put that more concretely, setting yourself the goal of writing a book can be stressful, vague, or overwhelming. Repeating the mantra “write” to yourself each day is more likely to keep you pumping out pages. Eventually you just may have a book.

So if your big goals don’t seem to be getting you far, consider taking the advice of Gates, Clear, and a bunch of happy folks and swap them for touchstone words instead.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ex-Navy SEAL and ultramarathoner David Goggins is the toughest man on the planet. His latest challenge: convincing the world to suffer on purpose.

david goggins turning joys of suffering into business model 2x1

Everywhere Devin Featherstone goes, David Goggins follows. It starts in the morning when Featherstone opens his eyes and catches Goggins’ thousand-yard stare from the book jacket of “Can’t Hurt Me,” Goggins’ memoir, on his nightstand.

Throughout the day, Featherstone, 36, a firefighter and an avid runner in Calgary, Alberta, ingests YouTube videos and podcast clips of the former Navy SEAL and ultramarathoner, who reminds him to “Stay hard!” And as night falls, and Featherstone crawls back into bed beside his wife, there Goggins remains on the nightstand – inert, gazing blankly into the darkness.

Featherstone acknowledges the reality plainly: “David Goggins is in my head daily.”

The sway that Goggins, who is 46, has over his followers – his ability to occupy their thoughts and persuade them to push past their limits – is hard to overstate. Last month, he oversaw the Goggins Challenge, a two-day test of physical fitness that ran March 5-7. Across 90 countries, tens of thousands of weekend warriors ran four miles every four hours, for 48 hours straight. If you weren’t a runner, you exercised. If you weren’t a gym rat, you just got sweaty. It was free to enter, and if you wanted a T-shirt, you paid $35.

Devin Featherstone did it in full firefighter gear because why not.

While Goggins ended up donating more than $200,000 in profits from the T-shirt sales to charity, for individual people there is still no good reason to do challenges like these. But Goggins regularly inspires such action. Drawing on stories of his difficult past, mixed with expletive-ridden calls to reject creature comforts, he’s found a way to become equal parts drill sergeant, life coach, and superhero for his community of nearly 4 million highly engaged Instagram followers.

“It’s just really empowering,” said Jenny Petersen, a 48-year-old nurse and runner from Lincoln, Nebraska, speaking of Goggins’ list of accomplishments. Petersen – a runner and triathlete – was among those who completed the Goggins Challenge. “People are starting to embrace that it’s OK if you suffer, and that you’re tougher than you think.”

After more than a year of both mental and physical anguish wrought by COVID-19, Goggins’ calls to embrace discomfort may seem ill-timed. But for the newly converted and die-hards alike, he’s offering people more than motivation: an opportunity to reclaim control of their suffering, and practice it on their own terms.

Goggins’ fan base is growing fast, and there are promising signs his ability to monetize that interest – through a bestselling memoir, corporate speaking engagements, merchandise, and avenues yet-to-be explored – could carve out a lucrative “business of toughness” over the coming years.

“I discovered a whole nother part of your fucking brain that a lot of people don’t even know about,” Goggins told Joe Rogan in a 2018 podcast episode. “It’s my job now to take these weak people, in the category that I was in, and say, ‘Uh-uh. Stop reading the bullshit. Stop listening to the bullshit.’ And if my story of success can impact somebody, it is my job, it is my duty, to share the story.” (Goggins declined to be interviewed for this article.)

Achievements born from adversity

It was November 1, 2005, and a 6-foot-2, 245-pound linebacker of a Navy SEAL was on the starting line of a 24-hour footrace in Southern California. Goggins had signed up for the San Diego 1-Day, an event he entered as a qualifying race for a separate ultramarathon in which he hoped to raise money for charity.

He was no fleet-footed runner. In the lead-up to the race, Goggins’ cardiovascular training included just 20 minutes spent on the elliptical every Sunday. The task ahead of him: Complete 100 laps of the one-mile track before the 24 hours were up.

The race nearly broke Goggins, who describes the hellacious experience in his book and on podcasts as the most painful day of his life. He broke all the small bones in his feet. His kidneys shut down. By the time he got home, having run 101 miles in under 19 hours, he was smeared with blood, urine, and feces, and was unable to walk under his own weight. His wife at the time begged him to go to the hospital.

“She kept talking, shouting, crying, trying to reach me through the haze,” Goggins wrote in his 2018 memoir, “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds.” “And I heard most of what she said, but I knew if we went to the hospital they’d give me pain killers and I didn’t want to mask this pain. I’d just accomplished the most amazing feat in my entire life.”

brent gleeson & david goggins
Navy SEAL training in 2001. Brent Gleeson, second from left. David Goggins, second from right.

david goggins
Goggins during Navy SEAL training.

David Goggins & Brent Gleeson
Goggins and Gleeson at the SEAL training graduation in 2001.

As Goggins described it, that race obliterated any sense of physical limits he’d once had.

Two months after the San Diego 1-Day, he ran the Hurt 100, a 100-mile trail race with 24,500 feet of climbing through hills in Hawaii. In 2006, he completed seven more races of 30 miles or more. In 2007, he completed 14 more, including a third-place finish at the Badwater 135, a race longer than five normal marathons that cuts through the sneaker-melting heat of Death Valley. He’s completed two dozen more ultras in the 14 years since.

Goggins has also competed in the Ironman World Championship, finishing the 140.6-mile triathlon in 11 hours and 24 minutes. And in 2013, he broke the Guinness World Record for most pullups completed in 24 hours with 4,030. He broke the record with seven hours to spare.

For people such as Petersen and Featherstone, Goggins’ core appeal is his mental toughness, which Goggins said he channels into “going the distance,” not winning the race. He speaks often of the “40% rule,” which says that when people typically give up, they’re really only 40% depleted.

“The reason it’s so powerful,” Goggins wrote in “Can’t Hurt Me,” “is that if you follow it, you will unlock your mind to new levels of performance and excellence in sports and in life, and your rewards will run far deeper than mere material success.”

The San Diego 1-Day marked Goggins’ first step on the road to becoming an endurance athlete, but overcoming adversity stretches back to his childhood. Growing up Black in the small, predominantly white town of Brazil, Indiana, he faced virulent racism and struggled with a learning disability, speech impediment, and low self-esteem.

“I damn sure wasn’t going to get into college based on academics,” Goggins wrote in “Can’t Hurt Me.” “All I knew was that I had to get the fuck out of Brazil, Indiana.” He saw the military as his best chance and took the requisite entrance exam three times. On his third try, he met the minimum standard for the Air Force.

To date, Goggins is the only person to complete training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller. And “when that glory faded,” about 20 years ago, Goggins set his sights on ultramarathon running, said Brent Gleeson, a former Navy SEAL who graduated from SEAL training with Goggins in 2001.

“He’s always striving, as he would say, to recertify himself as a savage,” said Gleeson, who is now an entrepreneur and the author of several books, including “Embrace the Suck: The Navy SEAL Way to an Extraordinary Life.” “It’s that continual journey, and I think that inadvertently started to spark something in other people.”

Even in middle age, Goggins seems to have no plans of slowing down. In October, at 45 years old, he ran 238 miles in 62 hours, 21 minutes, and 29 seconds as part of the Moab 240 in Utah. It was good enough for a second-place finish.

David Goggins by Brandon Rogers:US Navy
Goggins ran the Badwater 135 in 2007, in a string of 14 ultramarathon races that year.

Not just transformation – multiplication

But now the 46-year-old veteran is increasingly turning his attention toward brand-building. In 2016, Goggins, along with his team, founded Goggins LLC as a way to start investing in himself, as he told Rogan on his first of two podcast appearances.

“I try to be as real as I can,” Goggins said, “because we’re all fucking suffering in this world. We’re all hurting. And I try to take away all titles you wanna give me to let you know that I did not come from that shit. That’s why I have to be so authentic and so real about my own insecurities and my own faults, and being a fucked-up person.”

Influencers strive to be as authentic as possible; it can make or break a nascent brand. Fortunately for Goggins, who may never even use the word “influencer,” staying true to himself and his story has been the greatest source of his success – and sometimes his stress.

“My biggest fear in life is, people can read right through a motherfucker that’s not real,” he told Rogan. “I do it all the time. A lot of people have these great quotes, and they mass-produce. I can’t mass-produce something, man.”

Instead, he’s started giving talks. He’s spoken at companies such as Cisco and Microsoft and at pro sports teams such as the Seattle Seahawks and the New York Giants. (Because of COVID-19, he has not given a talk since March 2020, a spokesperson confirmed.) Clips from these talks carry titles such as “Stop Talking Yourself Out of Being Great” and “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable.”

There is ample room for Goggins to grow in these spaces: Together, the self-improvement and motivational-speaking markets are worth about $15 billion. And they are expected to grow between 4% and 6% over the next few years, according to research from Marketdata Enterprises.

In 2018, he and his co-author, Adam Skolnick, self-published his memoir, “Can’t Hurt Me.” He said in a 2019 Facebook Live event that, despite being offered an advance of $300,000, he turned it down “at the last minute” and decided instead to invest $800,000 of his own money in self-publishing. (Goggins’ press representative did not respond to Insider’s request to confirm these figures.)

“It was the best decision, business-wise, I ever made in my entire life,” Goggins said in the event, “because I had the mental toughness and also the ability to know what was right for me and my brand.”

The book ended up selling 900,000 copies across print and digital within the first four months, Deadline’s Patrick Hipes reported. It stayed on The New York Times’ bestseller list for 14 weeks and has sold more than 3 million copies to date. According to Bookscan data, roughly 300,000 of those copies are from the two bound editions.

“That’s spectacular for any book,” said Giles Anderson, the owner and founder of Anderson Literary Agency.

Still, even as a businessman, Goggins is adamant that money isn’t what gets him up in the morning. “I’m not driven by the business,” he told Rogan. “I’m a minimalist motherfucker. Gimme a backpack, a fucking ground to sleep on, a pullup bar, some fucking running shoes, and a Subway sandwich, and I’m fucking straight.”

To be sure, Goggins isn’t the only tough-as-nails influencer. Plenty have come before him, Tony Robbins perhaps looming the largest, literally, over the past two decades. Nor is Goggins the only veteran turned life coach to break onto the scene in recent years.

Jocko Willink is a retired naval officer, a podcaster, and the author of several books, including “Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win.” Willink is well known on Instagram, where he has nearly 2 million followers, for posting gritty, black-and-white close-ups of his digital watch displaying ungodly wake-up times. A recent photo showed the time as 4:25:41. The caption: “WARPATH.”

Many of Goggins’ followers also find strength in Jocko, as he’s better known. But where Jocko has posted more than 4,700 times, Goggins has just 335 posts to his name, and each one is a viral sensation in its own right. His videos regularly pull in more than a million views.

To retired SEAL Gleeson, who previously founded and ran a digital-media agency for 11 years, the growth and engagement Goggins has achieved are nothing short of anomalous. “I’ve never seen an explosion of rapid growth from a social-media-brand standpoint,” Gleeson said. “Never seen it before.”

david goggins moab 240
Goggins ran the Moab 240 in October, finishing second.

david goggins moab 240
Goggins’ finishing time at the Moab 240 was 62 hours, 21 minutes.

Goggins isn’t for everyone … yet

Part of Goggins’ appeal has been the mythic quality that’s followed him ever since stories began to surface on YouTube about six years ago. In 2015, the entrepreneur Jesse Itzler published “Living With a SEAL: 31 Days Training With the Toughest Man on the Planet.” Itzler never used the SEAL’s name in the book, but word soon got out that the “toughest man” was in fact David Goggins. More videos emerged; rumors swirled. Have you heard of David Goggins? The man himself began appearing on podcasts, news shows, and social media.

All that organic growth has created a reputation that some find intriguing. For instance, a month after the official Goggins Challenge weekend in March, a handful of New York City-based runners embarked on the challenge to raise money for charity the weekend of April 9. For others, who may be landing on Goggins’ Instagram page for the first time, the catalog of running videos, in which our hero yells at the camera for a minute straight, may seem intimidating. But for every Goggins nonbeliever, there is often a friend close by who’s ready to dispel the myths and spread the gospel.

Joelle Tomlinson, a morning-news host in Calgary, and a friend of Featherstone, regularly runs ultramarathons. When she came across Goggins, in 2020, by way of a running partner, she first thought, “Wow, this guy is absolutely wild” – in a good way, she said. “I’ve never heard of anyone like this. I think he has completely made this recreational suffering more achievable.” She said she was eager to pick up a copy of his book.

But then there are people such as Jacy Cunningham, a 32-year-old professional trainer in Maryland, who admire Goggins for his intensity but find less value in glorifying it as a way of life. “Our society promotes pure extreme,” said Cunningham, who runs his own business on a holistic form of fitness called the Jacy Method. “We’re fanatic about crazy shit. We’re big on pushing ourselves to crazy limits.”

Devin Featherstone said an increasingly comfortable world is to blame. “People are driving more toward that in-your-face attitude of how Goggins tells you straight up: If you’re lazy, you’re lazy. You’re not candy-coating it, and I think more and more people need that.”

Still, even a superfan such as Featherstone said he’s motivated most by his family and his values, and that he taps the fearless warrior in his head only when times get tough. As a dad to a 5-year-old son, he knows the misery of a 4 a.m. wake-up. But after studying “Can’t Hurt Me” and listening to clip after clip, Featherstone said cleaning a mess or settling a dispute doesn’t seem so bad.

“There are things that I would bitch and complain about that were really small,” he said. Now, not so much, and people have even asked where his inner peace comes from. “I’m, like, ‘Honestly? I read David Goggins’ book.'”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ex-Navy SEAL and ultramarathoner David Goggins is the toughest man on the planet. He wants you to love suffering as much as he does.

david goggins turning joys of suffering into business model 2x1

Everywhere Devin Featherstone goes, David Goggins follows. It starts in the morning when Featherstone opens his eyes and catches Goggins’ thousand-yard stare from the book jacket of “Can’t Hurt Me,” Goggins’ memoir, on his nightstand.

Throughout the day, Featherstone, 36, a firefighter and an avid runner in Calgary, Alberta, ingests YouTube videos and podcast clips of the former Navy SEAL and ultramarathoner, who reminds him to “Stay hard!” And as night falls, and Featherstone crawls back into bed beside his wife, there Goggins remains on the nightstand – inert, gazing blankly into the darkness.

Featherstone acknowledges the reality plainly: “David Goggins is in my head daily.”

The sway that Goggins, who is 46, has over his followers – his ability to occupy their thoughts and persuade them to push past their limits – is hard to overstate. Last month, he oversaw the Goggins Challenge, a two-day test of physical fitness that ran March 5-7. Across 90 countries, tens of thousands of weekend warriors ran four miles every four hours, for 48 hours straight. If you weren’t a runner, you exercised. If you weren’t a gym rat, you just got sweaty. It was free to enter, and if you wanted a T-shirt, you paid $35.

Devin Featherstone did it in full firefighter gear because why not.

While Goggins ended up donating more than $200,000 in profits from the T-shirt sales to charity, for individual people there is still no good reason to do challenges like these. But Goggins regularly inspires such action. Drawing on stories of his difficult past, mixed with expletive-ridden calls to reject creature comforts, he’s found a way to become equal parts drill sergeant, life coach, and superhero for his community of nearly 4 million highly engaged Instagram followers.

“It’s just really empowering,” said Jenny Petersen, a 48-year-old nurse and runner from Lincoln, Nebraska, speaking of Goggins’ list of accomplishments. Petersen – a runner and triathlete – was among those who completed the Goggins Challenge. “People are starting to embrace that it’s OK if you suffer, and that you’re tougher than you think.”

After more than a year of both mental and physical anguish wrought by COVID-19, Goggins’ calls to embrace discomfort may seem ill-timed. But for the newly converted and die-hards alike, he’s offering people more than motivation: an opportunity to reclaim control of their suffering, and practice it on their own terms.

Goggins’ fan base is growing fast, and there are promising signs his ability to monetize that interest – through a bestselling memoir, corporate speaking engagements, merchandise, and avenues yet-to-be explored – could carve out a lucrative “business of toughness” over the coming years.

“I discovered a whole nother part of your fucking brain that a lot of people don’t even know about,” Goggins told Joe Rogan in a 2018 podcast episode. “It’s my job now to take these weak people, in the category that I was in, and say, ‘Uh-uh. Stop reading the bullshit. Stop listening to the bullshit.’ And if my story of success can impact somebody, it is my job, it is my duty, to share the story.” (Goggins declined to be interviewed for this article.)

Achievements born from adversity

It was November 1, 2005, and a 6-foot-2, 245-pound linebacker of a Navy SEAL was on the starting line of a 24-hour footrace in Southern California. Goggins had signed up for the San Diego 1-Day, an event he entered as a qualifying race for a separate ultramarathon in which he hoped to raise money for charity.

He was no fleet-footed runner. In the lead-up to the race, Goggins’ cardiovascular training included just 20 minutes spent on the elliptical every Sunday. The task ahead of him: Complete 100 laps of the one-mile track before the 24 hours were up.

The race nearly broke Goggins, who describes the hellacious experience in his book and on podcasts as the most painful day of his life. He broke all the small bones in his feet. His kidneys shut down. By the time he got home, having run 101 miles in under 19 hours, he was smeared with blood, urine, and feces, and was unable to walk under his own weight. His wife at the time begged him to go to the hospital.

“She kept talking, shouting, crying, trying to reach me through the haze,” Goggins wrote in his 2018 memoir, “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds.” “And I heard most of what she said, but I knew if we went to the hospital they’d give me pain killers and I didn’t want to mask this pain. I’d just accomplished the most amazing feat in my entire life.”

brent gleeson & david goggins
Navy SEAL training in 2001. Brent Gleeson, second from left. David Goggins, second from right.

david goggins
Goggins during Navy SEAL training.

David Goggins & Brent Gleeson
Goggins and Gleeson at the SEAL training graduation in 2001.

As Goggins described it, that race obliterated any sense of physical limits he’d once had.

Two months after the San Diego 1-Day, he ran the Hurt 100, a 100-mile trail race with 24,500 feet of climbing through hills in Hawaii. In 2006, he completed seven more races of 30 miles or more. In 2007, he completed 14 more, including a third-place finish at the Badwater 135, a race longer than five normal marathons that cuts through the sneaker-melting heat of Death Valley. He’s completed two dozen more ultras in the 14 years since.

Goggins has also competed in the Ironman World Championship, finishing the 140.6-mile triathlon in 11 hours and 24 minutes. And in 2013, he broke the Guinness World Record for most pullups completed in 24 hours with 4,030. He broke the record with seven hours to spare.

For people such as Petersen and Featherstone, Goggins’ core appeal is his mental toughness, which Goggins said he channels into “going the distance,” not winning the race. He speaks often of the “40% rule,” which says that when people typically give up, they’re really only 40% depleted.

“The reason it’s so powerful,” Goggins wrote in “Can’t Hurt Me,” “is that if you follow it, you will unlock your mind to new levels of performance and excellence in sports and in life, and your rewards will run far deeper than mere material success.”

The San Diego 1-Day marked Goggins’ first step on the road to becoming an endurance athlete, but overcoming adversity stretches back to his childhood. Growing up Black in the small, predominantly white town of Brazil, Indiana, he faced virulent racism and struggled with a learning disability, speech impediment, and low self-esteem.

“I damn sure wasn’t going to get into college based on academics,” Goggins wrote in “Can’t Hurt Me.” “All I knew was that I had to get the fuck out of Brazil, Indiana.” He saw the military as his best chance and took the requisite entrance exam three times. On his third try, he met the minimum standard for the Air Force.

To date, Goggins is the only person to complete training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller. And “when that glory faded,” about 20 years ago, Goggins set his sights on ultramarathon running, said Brent Gleeson, a former Navy SEAL who graduated from SEAL training with Goggins in 2001.

“He’s always striving, as he would say, to recertify himself as a savage,” said Gleeson, who is now an entrepreneur and the author of several books, including “Embrace the Suck: The Navy SEAL Way to an Extraordinary Life.” “It’s that continual journey, and I think that inadvertently started to spark something in other people.”

Even in middle age, Goggins seems to have no plans of slowing down. In October, at 45 years old, he ran 238 miles in 62 hours, 21 minutes, and 29 seconds as part of the Moab 240 in Utah. It was good enough for a second-place finish.

David Goggins by Brandon Rogers:US Navy
Goggins ran the Badwater 135 in 2007, in a string of 14 ultramarathon races that year.

Not just transformation – multiplication

But now the 46-year-old veteran is increasingly turning his attention toward brand-building. In 2016, Goggins, along with his team, founded Goggins LLC as a way to start investing in himself, as he told Rogan on his first of two podcast appearances.

“I try to be as real as I can,” Goggins said, “because we’re all fucking suffering in this world. We’re all hurting. And I try to take away all titles you wanna give me to let you know that I did not come from that shit. That’s why I have to be so authentic and so real about my own insecurities and my own faults, and being a fucked-up person.”

Influencers strive to be as authentic as possible; it can make or break a nascent brand. Fortunately for Goggins, who may never even use the word “influencer,” staying true to himself and his story has been the greatest source of his success – and sometimes his stress.

“My biggest fear in life is, people can read right through a motherfucker that’s not real,” he told Rogan. “I do it all the time. A lot of people have these great quotes, and they mass-produce. I can’t mass-produce something, man.”

Instead, he’s started giving talks. He’s spoken at companies such as Cisco and Microsoft and at pro sports teams such as the Seattle Seahawks and the New York Giants. (Because of COVID-19, he has not given a talk since March 2020, a spokesperson confirmed.) Clips from these talks carry titles such as “Stop Talking Yourself Out of Being Great” and “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable.”

There is ample room for Goggins to grow in these spaces: Together, the self-improvement and motivational-speaking markets are worth about $15 billion. And they are expected to grow between 4% and 6% over the next few years, according to research from Marketdata Enterprises.

In 2018, he and his co-author, Adam Skolnick, self-published his memoir, “Can’t Hurt Me.” He said in a 2019 Facebook Live event that, despite being offered an advance of $300,000, he turned it down “at the last minute” and decided instead to invest $800,000 of his own money in self-publishing. (Goggins’ press representative did not respond to Insider’s request to confirm these figures.)

“It was the best decision, business-wise, I ever made in my entire life,” Goggins said in the event, “because I had the mental toughness and also the ability to know what was right for me and my brand.”

The book ended up selling 900,000 copies across print and digital within the first four months, Deadline’s Patrick Hipes reported. It stayed on The New York Times’ bestseller list for 14 weeks and has sold more than 3 million copies to date. According to Bookscan data, roughly 300,000 of those copies are from the two bound editions.

“That’s spectacular for any book,” said Giles Anderson, the owner and founder of Anderson Literary Agency.

Still, even as a businessman, Goggins is adamant that money isn’t what gets him up in the morning. “I’m not driven by the business,” he told Rogan. “I’m a minimalist motherfucker. Gimme a backpack, a fucking ground to sleep on, a pullup bar, some fucking running shoes, and a Subway sandwich, and I’m fucking straight.”

To be sure, Goggins isn’t the only tough-as-nails influencer. Plenty have come before him, Tony Robbins perhaps looming the largest, literally, over the past two decades. Nor is Goggins the only veteran turned life coach to break onto the scene in recent years.

Jocko Willink is a retired naval officer, a podcaster, and the author of several books, including “Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win.” Willink is well known on Instagram, where he has nearly 2 million followers, for posting gritty, black-and-white close-ups of his digital watch displaying ungodly wake-up times. A recent photo showed the time as 4:25:41. The caption: “WARPATH.”

Many of Goggins’ followers also find strength in Jocko, as he’s better known. But where Jocko has posted more than 4,700 times, Goggins has just 335 posts to his name, and each one is a viral sensation in its own right. His videos regularly pull in more than a million views.

To retired SEAL Gleeson, who previously founded and ran a digital-media agency for 11 years, the growth and engagement Goggins has achieved are nothing short of anomalous. “I’ve never seen an explosion of rapid growth from a social-media-brand standpoint,” Gleeson said. “Never seen it before.”

david goggins moab 240
Goggins ran the Moab 240 in October, finishing second.

david goggins moab 240
Goggins’ finishing time at the Moab 240 was 62 hours, 21 minutes.

Goggins isn’t for everyone … yet

Part of Goggins’ appeal has been the mythic quality that’s followed him ever since stories began to surface on YouTube about six years ago. In 2015, the entrepreneur Jesse Itzler published “Living With a SEAL: 31 Days Training With the Toughest Man on the Planet.” Itzler never used the SEAL’s name in the book, but word soon got out that the “toughest man” was in fact David Goggins. More videos emerged; rumors swirled. Have you heard of David Goggins? The man himself began appearing on podcasts, news shows, and social media.

All that organic growth has created a reputation that some find intriguing. For instance, a month after the official Goggins Challenge weekend in March, a handful of New York City-based runners embarked on the challenge to raise money for charity the weekend of April 9. For others, who may be landing on Goggins’ Instagram page for the first time, the catalog of running videos, in which our hero yells at the camera for a minute straight, may seem intimidating. But for every Goggins nonbeliever, there is often a friend close by who’s ready to dispel the myths and spread the gospel.

Joelle Tomlinson, a morning-news host in Calgary, and a friend of Featherstone, regularly runs ultramarathons. When she came across Goggins, in 2020, by way of a running partner, she first thought, “Wow, this guy is absolutely wild” – in a good way, she said. “I’ve never heard of anyone like this. I think he has completely made this recreational suffering more achievable.” She said she was eager to pick up a copy of his book.

But then there are people such as Jacy Cunningham, a 32-year-old professional trainer in Maryland, who admire Goggins for his intensity but find less value in glorifying it as a way of life. “Our society promotes pure extreme,” said Cunningham, who runs his own business on a holistic form of fitness called the Jacy Method. “We’re fanatic about crazy shit. We’re big on pushing ourselves to crazy limits.”

Devin Featherstone said an increasingly comfortable world is to blame. “People are driving more toward that in-your-face attitude of how Goggins tells you straight up: If you’re lazy, you’re lazy. You’re not candy-coating it, and I think more and more people need that.”

Still, even a superfan such as Featherstone said he’s motivated most by his family and his values, and that he taps the fearless warrior in his head only when times get tough. As a dad to a 5-year-old son, he knows the misery of a 4 a.m. wake-up. But after studying “Can’t Hurt Me” and listening to clip after clip, Featherstone said cleaning a mess or settling a dispute doesn’t seem so bad.

“There are things that I would bitch and complain about that were really small,” he said. Now, not so much, and people have even asked where his inner peace comes from. “I’m, like, ‘Honestly? I read David Goggins’ book.'”

Read the original article on Business Insider