As new graduates prepare to enter the "real world," colleges and universities gather them into auditoriums to absorb wisdom from great leaders.
Most of that wisdom is forgettable. A lot of it is clichéd. (Dream big! Follow your passion!) But some of it resonates — even years later, even if you're not graduating, even if you haven't graduated in years.
We've collected some of the best advice from some of the best speeches in recent (and not-so-recent) memory, worth reading and listening to for any grad — or anyone looking for a little guidance.
Max Nisen and Lynne Guey contributed to an earlier version of this article.
Sheryl Sandberg: If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat. Just get on.
Addressing the Harvard Business School class of 2012, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg began with a story from her own career: the time she almost turned down the offer to join Google because it was too low-level. She explained to then-CEO Eric Schmidt that the job didn't meet her criteria.
And that's when he gave her advice she passed onto the newly minted MBAs: "Get on a rocket ship."
"When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves," she recalls him saying. "And when companies aren't growing quickly or their missions don't matter as much, that's when stagnation and politics come in." So take note: "If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat. Just get on."
Watch the full speech here.
Salman Khan: Live your life like it's your second chance.
The Khan Academy founder urged his fellow mega-achieving MIT grads to not lose sight of what really matters.
"Imagine yourself in 50 years," he advised the class of 2012. Reflecting back on your life, "you'll think of all the great moments with your family and friends," he said. Then you'll look back on your regrets. You'll wish you laughed more, loved more, danced more, appreciated more, he said. You'll wish "that you better used the gifts you were given to empower others and make the world better."
Then he posed a thought experiment: what if a genie could take you back? What would you do differently?
Now, do that. "You really do have the chance to do it all over again," he said — starting right now. As of today, "you can be the source of positivity that you wished you had been the first time around."
Watch the full speech here.
Neil Gaiman: Do the stuff that only you can do.
Acclaimed British author and artist Neil Gaiman's advice to the 2012 graduates of the University of the Arts is holds true whether you're a painter or a poet or a nurse practitioner.
"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you," he advised. "Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can."
"The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself," he warned — "that's the moment you may be starting to get it right."
Find the full speech here.