1. Arianna Huffington – Smith College, 2013


Don’t buy society’s definition of success. Because it’s not working for anyone. It’s not working for women, it’s not working for men, it’s not working for polar bears, it’s not working for the cicadas that are apparently about to emerge and swarm us. It’s only truly working for those who make pharmaceuticals for stress, diabetes, heart disease, sleeplessness and high blood pressure.


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2. J.K. Rowling — Harvard University, 2008


The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.



3. Oprah Winfrey – Stanford University, 2008


And how do you know when you’re doing something right? How do you know that? It feels so. 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. The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead.



4. Ursula Burns — Columbia University, School of Engineering, 2012


Doing good is not an “add on” but central to leading a rewarding life. As my Mother used to tell anyone who would listen, we all have an obligation to “put back” more than we “take out.” Leave more than you take — not a bad formula for true success.



5. Anna Wintour — Fashion Institute of Technology, 2003


The way to start: with clarity and purpose and flair.



6. Indra Nyooi – Miami University, 2011


Optimism isn’t a life plan, but it is a great tailwind to have at your back. And if you take advantage of that tailwind by doing what you love, striving for perfection, constantly learning, believing in yourself as well as believing in others, you are bound to conquer the world.




7. Michelle Obama – University of California, Merced, 2009


When times get tough and fear sets in, think of those people who paved the way for you and those who are counting on you to pave the way for them. Never let setbacks or fear dictate the course of your life. Hold on to the possibility and push beyond the fear.



8. Sheryl Sandberg – Barnard College, 2011


Women almost never make one decision to leave the workforce. It doesn’t happen that way. They make small little decisions along the way that eventually lead them there….So, my heartfelt message to all of you is, and start thinking about this now, do not leave before you leave. Do not lean back; lean in. Put your foot on that gas pedal and keep it there until the day you have to make a decision, and then make a decision. That’s the only way, when that day comes, you’ll even have a decision to make.


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9. Angela Ahrendts – Ball State University, 2010


So with the world at your fingertips, have you learned to listen to your heart, your intuition and your instincts?…Your heart is your guiding force, teach yourself to listen to it, nurture it, and let it guide as you start this next exciting chapter of life.




10. Hillary Clinton — New York University, 2009


There is no way to stop change; change will come. Go out and give us a future worthy of the world we all wish to create together.