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  • I want to discuss with you this afternoon

  • why you're going to fail to have a great career. (Laughter)

  • I'm an economist. I do dismal.

  • End of the day, it's ready for dismal remarks.

  • I only want to talk to those of you who want a great career.

  • I know some of you have already decided

  • you want a good career.

  • You're going to fail, too — (Laughter) —

  • becauseGoodness, you're all cheery about failing. (Laughter)

  • Canadian group, undoubtedly. (Laughter)

  • Those trying to have good careers are going to fail,

  • because, really, good jobs are now disappearing.

  • There are great jobs and great careers,

  • and then there are the high-workload, high-stress,

  • bloodsucking, soul-destroying kinds of jobs,

  • and practically nothing in between.

  • So the people looking for good jobs are going to fail.

  • I'm going to talk about those looking for great jobs, great

  • careers, and why you're going to, why you're going to fail.

  • First reason is that no matter how many times people tell you,

  • "If you want a great career, you have to pursue your passion,

  • you have to pursue your dreams, you have to pursue,

  • the greatest fascination in your life,"

  • you hear it again and again and then you decide

  • not to do it. It doesn't matter how many times you download

  • Steven J.'s Stanford commencement address,

  • you still look at it and decide not to do it.

  • I'm not quite sure why you decide not to do it.

  • You're too lazy to do it. It's too hard.

  • You're afraid if you look for your passion and don't find it,

  • you'll feel like you're an idiot, so then you make excuses

  • about why you're not going to look for your passion.

  • And they are excuses, ladies and gentlemen.

  • We're going to go through a whole long list, your creativity,

  • and thinking of excuses not to do what you really

  • need to do if you want to have a great career.

  • So, for example, one of your great excuses is,

  • "Well, great careers are really and truly, for most people,

  • just a matter of luck, so I'm going to stand around,

  • I'm going to try to be lucky, and if I'm lucky,

  • I'll have a great career. If not, I'll have a good career."

  • But a good career is an impossibility, so that's not going to work.

  • Then, your other excuse is, "Yes, there are special people

  • who pursue their passions, but they are geniuses.

  • They are Steven J. I'm not a genius.

  • When I was five, I thought I was a genius,

  • but my professors have beaten that idea

  • out of my head long since." (Laughter) Mm?

  • "And now I know I am completely competent."

  • Now, you see, if this was 1950,

  • being completely competent,

  • that would have given you a great career.

  • But guess what? This is almost 2012, and saying

  • to the world, "I am totally, completely competent,"

  • is damning yourself with the faintest of praise.

  • And then, of course, another excuse:

  • "Well, I would do this, I would do this, but, but,

  • well, after all, I'm not weird.

  • Everybody knows that people who pursue their passions

  • are somewhat obsessive. A little strange? Mm? Mm? Okay?

  • You know, a fine line between madness and genius.

  • I'm not weird. I've read Steven J.'s biography.

  • Oh my goodness. I am not that person. I am nice.

  • I am normal. I'm a nice, normal person,

  • and nice, normal people

  • don't have passion.

  • Ah. But I still want a great career.

  • I'm not prepared to pursue my passion, so I know

  • what I'm going to do, because I have, I have a solution,

  • I have a strategy.

  • It's the one Mommy and Daddy told me about.

  • Mommy and Daddy told me that if I worked hard,

  • I'd have a good career. So, if you work hard

  • and have a good career, if you work really, really, really hard,

  • you'll have a great career. Doesn't that, like,

  • mathematically make sense?"

  • Hmm. Not. (Laughter)

  • But you've managed to talk yourself into that.

  • You know what? Here's a little secret.

  • You want to work? You want to work really, really, really hard?

  • You know what? You'll succeed. The world will give you

  • the opportunity to work really, really, really, really hard,

  • but are you so sure that that's going to give you

  • a great career when all the evidence is to the contrary?

  • So let's assume, let's deal with those of you

  • who are trying to find your passion.

  • You actually understand that you really had better do it,

  • never mind the excuses. You're trying to find your passion,

  • and you're so happy.

  • You found something you're interested in.

  • I have an interest! I have an interest! You tell me.

  • You say, "I have an interest!" I say, "That's wonderful!

  • And what, what are you trying to tell me? That you — "

  • "Well, I have an interest."

  • I say, "Do you have passion?"

  • "I have an interest," you say.

  • Your interest is compared to what?

  • "Well, I'm interested in this."

  • And what about the rest of humanity's activities?

  • "I'm not interested in them."

  • You've looked at them all, have you?

  • "No. Not exactly."

  • Passion is your greatest love.

  • Passion is the thing that will help you create

  • the highest expression of your talent.

  • Passion, interest -- it's not the same thing.

  • Are you really going to go to your sweetie and say,

  • "Marry me! You're interesting." (Laughter)

  • Won't happen. Won't happen, and you will die alone. (Laughter)

  • What you want, what you want, what you want,

  • is passion. It is beyond interest.

  • You need 20 interests, and then one of them,

  • one of them might grab you, one of them might engage you

  • more than anything else, and then you may have found

  • your greatest love in comparison to all the other things

  • that interest you, and that's what passion is.

  • I have a friend, proposed to his sweetie.

  • He was an economically rational person.

  • He said to his sweetie, "Let us marry.

  • Let us merge our interests."

  • (Laughter)

  • Yes he did.

  • "I love you truly," he said. "I love you deeply. I love you

  • more than any other woman I've ever encountered.

  • I love you more than Mary, Jane, Susie, Penelope,

  • Ingrid, Gertrude, Gretel --

  • I was on a German exchange program then." (Laughter)

  • "I love you more than — "

  • All right! She left the room halfway through his enumeration

  • of his love for her.

  • After he got over his surprise at being, you know,

  • turned down, he concluded he'd had a narrow escape

  • from marrying an irrational person,

  • although he did make a note to himself that the next time

  • he proposed, it was perhaps not necessary to enumerate

  • all of the women he had auditioned for the part. (Laughter)

  • But the point stands. You must look for alternatives

  • so that you find your destiny,

  • or are you afraid of the word "destiny"?

  • Does the word "destiny" scare you?

  • That's what we're talking about, and if you don't find

  • the highest expression of your talent, if you settle

  • for "interesting," what the hell ever that means,

  • do you know what will happen at the end of your long life?

  • Your friends and family will be gathered in the cemetery,

  • and there, beside your gravesite will be a tombstone,

  • and inscribed on that tombstone, it will say,

  • "Here lies a distinguished engineer who invented Velcro."

  • But what that tombstone should have said,

  • in an alternative lifetime,

  • what it should have said if it was your highest expression of

  • talent, was, "Here lies the last Nobel Laureate in Physics,

  • who formulated the Grand Unified Field Theory

  • and demonstrated the practicality of warp drive."

  • (Laughter)

  • Velcro, indeed. (Laughter)

  • One was a great career.

  • One was a missed opportunity.

  • But then, there are some of you,

  • in spite of all these excuses, you will find,

  • you will find your passion,

  • and you'll still fail.

  • You're going to fail, because,

  • because you're not going to do it,

  • because you will have invented a new excuse,

  • any excuse to fail to take action, and this excuse

  • I've heard so many times.

  • "Yes, I would pursue a great career, but I value

  • human relationships more than accomplishment.

  • I want to be a great friend. I want to be a great spouse.

  • I want to be a great parent, and I will not sacrifice them

  • on the altar of great accomplishment."

  • (Laughter)

  • What do you want me to say?

  • Now, do you really want me to say now, tell you,

  • "Really, I swear I don't kick children." (Laughter)

  • Hmm? Look at the worldview you've given yourself.

  • You're a hero no matter what, and I, by suggesting,

  • ever so delicately, that you might want a great career,

  • must hate children. I don't hate children. I don't kick them.

  • Yes, there was a little kid wandering through this building

  • when I came here, and no, I didn't kick him. (Laughter)

  • Course, I had to tell him that the building was for adults only

  • and to get out.

  • He mumbled something about his mother,

  • and I told him she'd probably find him outside anyway.

  • Last time I saw him, he was on the stairs crying. (Laughter)

  • What a wimp. (Laughter)

  • But what do you mean? That's what you expect me to say.

  • You really think, you really think it's appropriate

  • that you should actually take

  • children and use them as a shield?

  • You know what will happen someday,

  • you, you ideal parent, you?

  • The kid will come to you someday and say,

  • "I know what I want to be.

  • I know what I'm going to do with my life."

  • You are so happy. It's the conversation

  • a parent wants to hear, because your kid's good in math,

  • and you know you're going to like what comes next.

  • Says your kid, "I have decided

  • I want to be a magician.

  • I want to perform magic tricks on the stage."

  • (Laughter)

  • And what do you say?

  • You say, you say,

  • "Umm ... that's risky, kid.

  • Might fail, kid. Don't make a lot of money at that, kid.

  • You know, I don't know, kid,

  • you should think about that again, kid,

  • you're so good at math, why don't you — "

  • And the kid interrupts you, and says,

  • "But it is my dream. It is my dream to do this."

  • And what are you going to say?

  • You know what you're going to say?

  • "Look kid. I had a dream once, too, but -- but."

  • So how are you going to finish the sentence with your "but"?

  • "... But. I had a dream too, once, kid, but I was afraid to pursue it."

  • Or, are you going to tell him this?

  • "I had a dream once, kid.

  • But then you were born." (Laughter)

  • (Laughter) (Applause)

  • Do you, do you really want to use your family,

  • do you really ever want to look at your spouse

  • and your kid and see your jailers?

  • There was something you could have said to your kid

  • when he or she said, "I have a dream."

  • You could have said, looked the kid in the face, and said,

  • "Go for it, kid,

  • just like I did."

  • But you won't be able to say that

  • because you didn't. So you can't. (Laughter)

  • And so the sins of the parents

  • are visited on the poor children.

  • Why will you seek refuge in human relationships

  • as your excuse not to find and pursue your passion?

  • You know why.

  • In your heart of hearts, you know why,

  • and I'm being deadly serious.

  • You know why you would get all warm and fuzzy

  • and wrap yourself up in human relationships.

  • It is because you are

  • You know what you are.

  • You're afraid to pursue your passion.

  • You're afraid to look ridiculous.

  • You're afraid to try. You're afraid