Thursday, May 13, 2010

Two Inspiring Commencement Speeches

Steve Jobs speaks with a clarity, simplicity and sincerity that admirably underscore his innovative genius. Well worth your time!

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

I have yet to read a single Harry Potter book. When J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book burst upon the reading world in 1997, I fancied myself a wee bit too mature to get overly excited about an author who appeared to be Enid Blyton's successor - albeit more contemporary and a lot hipper. Besides, the first Harry Potter book I came across was an overpriced hardcover edition and there was no way I could see myself forking out so much cash for a mere book.

A few years later the Harry Potter movies hit the cinemas. Out of curiosity I picked up a pirate DVD and watched the whole thing with mixed feelings. On the one hand I had to acknowledge the impressive production quality in terms of casting, scripting and special effects. I wasn't entirely taken by the storyline and I felt there was something missing from the mix. I still can't quite place my finger on the problem - but, considering that the Harry Potter brand is now worth £15 billion, what's my personal opinion worth?

Sybil Pillai - a friend I haven't seen in years who just added me on Facebook - had shared J.K. Rowling's 2008 commencement speech at Harvard on her Wall. On impulse I decided to check it out and, after listening to the entire thing, I felt a great deal more warmth towards Ms Rowling. If somebody dropped off a few dog-eared Harry Potter books at my doorstep, I'd probably read them all in the loo - and, who knows, I might become a fan too.


Oxymoron said...

Don't settle!

Fi-sha said...

Good morning Dear Antares

Heartwarming speeches from beautiful people. Thank you for sharing.

I'm delighted to acknowledge the fact that their experience has made them who they are today - brilliant in mind, beautiful in heart.

Listening to Ms. Rowling, I thought I saw Harry Potter instead. Like you, I never read the books. Plus, I never spend more than 30 minutes watching any of the movies. Still, reading her humble beginning, I am all inspired. My heart is comforted.

May God bless them all...

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

Just to add on people pulling themselves up with their bootstraps. William Kamkwamba, a young man in famine stricken Malawi. Forced to drop out of school due to poverty, yet with a strong desire to learn and be educated. With just a few science books out of a library, he set out to start an ambitious project. Building windpower generators out of scrap for lighting and irrigation.

That he was successful is amazing. Managing it in a situation where limited resources, crushing poverty and environmental hardship is a brutal reality is nothing short of inspiring. How old was he when he built his first windmill? 14 years old.

Because of his efforts, he was invited to be a TEDGlobal fellow to present his story. Currently, William is back in school and building more windmills. I wish him the best, and to chip in I bought his book.

Back to Ms Rowling. If there is something to learn from the books, it's how to exorcise demons and trolls through the power of ridicule. Nothing deflates a monster faster than a good shot of humour.

semuanya OK kot said...

My favourite is
"It would be a pity to waste your limited time on dogma – other people's thinking – or on work you do not love." - Steve Jobs, 2005

navin said...

wow, J.K. Rowling's speech was simply beautiful. loved every bit of it. not a fan of her books (cant say i will be one soon, either) but man, she rocked that graduating class.

i loved one of her lines, which went "those who choose NOT to emphatize enable real monsters, for without ever committing an outright act of evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our apathy".

brilliant and provoking.