One word of advice
It's graduation season! What's the best advice? Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
It’s graduation season, so let’s start today’s newsletter with five of my favorite quotes from graduation speeches over the years. I was “in-person” for only one of these.
Can you guess which one? They’re chronological:
"Today, I really have only one word for you. … And that word is: 'Internet.'"—Ted Leonsis, president of AOL Interactive and owner of the Washington Capitals NHL team, Emerson College, 1999
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."—Steve Jobs, Stanford University, 2005
"I'm a big believer in the power of inexperience. ... If I had known at the outset how hard it was going to be, I might never have started.”—Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, Boston University, 2013
"If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed."—Adm. William H. McRaven, University of Texas, 2014
"Opportunity comes packaged in many boxes and it often shows up with no return address. The sender is history, and she does not accept returns.” —Ruby Bridges, civil rights activist, Tulane University, 2021
They’re all great speakers, but the one I was there for was … Ted Leonisis’s speech at Emerson College, since it was my sister’s graduation in 1999. (Hi Seana!).
As you might guess, Leonsis framed this device as a tongue-in-cheek, updated version of a famous scene from the 1967 movie, The Graduate. Rather than quote the movie, I’ll just include the scene here:
Leonisis went on like that as I recall, repeating “Internet” like a self-conscious joke throughout his speech.
I’m paraphrasing, but:
Want to be an actor? Think about how you can be an actor on the Internet. …
Want to be a writer? Imagine how you might write on the Internet. …
Want a future in music? Think about what the future of music will look like on the Internet.
Now, I don’t know if “plastics” was such great advice in 1967, but as it turned out, “Internet” in 1999 was pretty smart—also expected, since Leonisis had been an early Internet entrepreneur. (By the way, video of his speech can be found here, starting around 18:50.)
So, for a Friday open comment thread in the heart of graduation season, I’ve got three questions to prompt discussions—feel free to chime in on any or all of these:
First, what do you remember about your graduation(s)? Did the speakers say anything that stuck with you in the years to come?
Second, if the one-word advice was “plastics” in 1967 (highly debatable, but still), and “Internet” in 1999, what’s the one-word advice you’d give someone graduating this year?
Finally, what fantastic graduation speaker or quote should I have added to the list above?
I’ll answer these from my own perspective in the comments once this goes live. See you there!
Signal boost (Submit yours here!) ... Today’s is from subscriber Lisa Schmidt. In fact, she gets extra credit becuase today’s entire newsletter is really based on her suggestion. Granted, I’d had something like this in my “idea file” for a while, and I had to get in touch with Emerson College to find video of the 1999 speech, but Lisa prompted me to do write it and share it today. With that long preamble, here’s her comment:
It’s graduation season, so time for some iconic quotes. My twins are graduating from college this May.
My daughter, Lauren Schmidt, is graduating from Boston College and my son, Cole Schmidt, graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Congratulations Lauren, Cole, and Lisa. And thanks for being part of the community!
Before we reach the 7 other things… Just a reminder that I’m (for now) including a one-click rating option at the very bottom of this email. For newer subscribers, I used to do this in the early days; for everyone—I started it again after talking with a developer who runs an alternative newsletter platform I’m considering that features a much more automated version of this.
For now, it’s very manual, so I don’t know if I’ll keep it up forever. But, it does give you a window into the kind of feedback I get most days. We had 304 ratings yesterday. Overall, here’s how readers rated the newsletter:
7 other things worth knowing today
The U.S. Soccer Federation reached milestone agreements to pay its men’s and women’s teams equally, making the American national governing body the first in the sport to promise both sexes matching money. (AP)
OK, I can't even begin with this next story, but U.S. school districts are struggling to spend billions of dollars in federal pandemic-relief money before the funding expires. Districts have yet to spend 93% of $122 billion sunk into the K-12 education system last year as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education. (WSJ, $)
This next story is extraordinarily tragic and I hesitate to share, but perhaps it will serve as a warning to other parents with kids at the beach: An 18-year-old from Maine, Levi Caverly, who was on a beach vacation with his family in New Jersey was killed this week, after a deep hole (reportedly 10 feet deep) that he and his sister dug in the sand collapsed and crushed him to death. Apparently this is not the first time this has happened. (NY Post)
Private astronauts who spent millions for a trip to the International Space Station in April say the trip was amazing, but that they had to work a lot harder than they anticipated they'd be required to do. Officials are calling it a lesson learned: “Over time, we’ll reduce what the crew has to do,” said company president Michael Suffredini. (Space News)
A flight attendant's actions were called "heroic" this week after she helped a passenger deliver a baby midflight en route to a Florida airport, according to Frontier Airlines. Flight attendant Diana Giraldo was praised for her poise for assisting the woman during the “unexpected labor” on a flight from Denver to Orlando. (NBC News)
A California woman is telling the story of how she, her dog, and a passerby fought off a mountain lion who attacked her while she was on a walk near Northern California's Trinity River. It's quite scary. The mountain lion comes out of nowhere and attacks the woman; Eva the dog comes to her rescue, but is then overpowered by the mountain lion; the woman grabs a tire iron from her nearby car and flags down another woman driving by who happens to have both a PVC pipe and some pepper spray in her car; finally, the two women go back to attack the mountain lion and rescue Eva, who was badly hurt. (People)
A completely unrelated California woman—seriously, I just happen to have two California stories, no joke intended—who is serving a life prison sentence for murder led a scheme to collect at least $2 million in unemployment benefits using stolen identities, including those of other incarcerated people, federal prosecutors said. Natalie Le DeMola, 37, was one of 13 people charged. She was convicted for murdering her mother in 2001 and has been in prison ever since. (NYT)
Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a great weekend—especially those of us on the East Coast of the USA who are about to experience an early summer-scorcher heat wave. Want to see all my mistakes (and I admit I need to add a couple)? Click here.