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Things To Learn From Arianna Huffington’s Commencement Speech

Arianna Huffington (née Stasinopoúlou) is a Greek-American author, syndicated columnist, and occasional actress. She is famous for her immensely successful blog – The Huffington Post.

The Huffington Post was launched on May 10, 2005 as a liberal/left commentary outlet and alternative to news aggregators. Often referred as Huff Post or Huffpo this blog (now a group of sites) receives millions of comments and is one of the most widely read site in the world. The site is available in various languages like English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, German, Portuguese, Korean, Greek.

She was invited to address the 135th commencement ceremony of Smith College held on 19th May 2013.

Commencement Speech Video

Smith College made this video available on the public domain at:

Prepare yourself

This is a very important habit everyone needs to develop. Before doing anything we must prepare ourselves the best we can. I believe in the famous advise, the trainees in the army get on the first day by their teacher – The more you let out your sweat during the training, the less you have to lose your blood (during the combat). In other words, the harder your train, the less you are vulnerable.

We often hear smart work pays off. Which is 100% correct. Just doing hard work may not lead you to your target, unless it is done wisely and in the right direction. There comes the knowledge gathering and information collection in the picture. If you are fan of detective fictions or spy movies; you have noticed that how the missions are planned. They pay attention on the tiniest detail and plan the stuff accordingly.

Arianna never said any of these things in her speech. But, she mentioned that
You don’t know it but I have spent the last several weeks stalking you — on your various Smith websites, on your Twitter feeds, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Tumblr — so I could get to know you better.

Redefine Success

Success may have different meaning for different individual. For some it is rising to the top in his or her area of expertise, some might be interested in earning fame while other focuses on money. Some believe in peaceful life with loved ones where they spend quality time together, others may like to leave no stone un-turned and tirelessly working hard and travelling around to achieve the target they have set. The list can go on and on…

Saying that one way is right and another way is wrong, doesn’t seem correct. And in the real world success, money and power are almost synonymous, no two thoughts on that.

You have to find out what Success means to you, and follow the path (of course, by doing reality checks).

Lead the Revolution

However she mentioned it in regards of “women empowerment”, it is applicable everywhere. We see the world is changing in many aspects, and it will continue doing that till the end of the time. We have to decide whether we have to be a mere spectator or want to participate and even lead the change.

I don’t want to sound like a monk, or talk hypothetical, but when you are leaving the world, you must not feel that “Oh, it was good if I could have (or shouldn’t have) done this, as I was able to“.

Health and Well Being

While running for the success we often ignore our well being. We keep running till we fall. Well, there is nothing wrong in hard-working approach, it is in-fact very much needed. The only thing to concentrate on is the point to stop.

One of uncle was a teacher and he said this thing to me about one of his student. He asked the student the spelling of Banana. The student hesitated for a while. When my uncle asked him, “What happened? Don’t you remember the spelling?” He replied “I know sir, the problem is I don’t know where to stop while repeating na in the spelling“. (As we know there are two na in “Banana”, and we know we know we have to utter/write “na” only twice while wring “banana”. If we don’t know when to stop we could have written “bananananana” or “bana” or….).

During her speech, Arianna mentioned various examples, where we learn, that many people who ignore their health in the quest of success, welcome various illnesses.

Doing the things at a level, where you gain mental stress or physical illness, is not “commitment”, it is actually “foolishness”. Your “body” and “mind” are the best and most precious possessions you have. Whatever you can do is with the help of these two possessions. So never risk harming them. (You cannot reach to your goal otherwise, Can you?)

Sleep is a boon, make the best use of it to recharge yourself

Amid admirer of “sleep”, Arianna mentions the problems the modern society is facing due to “sleep deprivation”.

Hey, but just make sure, don’t overdo anything 🙂

Keep yourself happy and amused

There are so many things around us which can make us happy without paying anything but attention towards. Enjoy the fresh sunlight of the morning, see the jumping kids spreading their innocent laughs, watch the stars in the night. The capital of nature and the capital of human being are great, but we often not pay any attention towards them.

One good thing we found in the speech is what Arianna mentioned about her mother. Whenever Arianna is upset about something or complain about it, her mother used to say her, to “change the channel”. Don’t play the scary movie, rather play something which makes you happy. You are the controller. (This very important, whether you want to control or want to be controlled).


After “Wonder” and “Well being”, she talks about Wisdom. We know that even good intentions, extraordinary skills or even immense success, are nothing, if Wisdom is absent.

Again, she mentioned her mother’s wise advise, by referring a personal incident. “Being connected in a shallow way to the entire world can prevent us from being deeply connected to those closest to us — including ourselves“.

In this digital era, we run to keep our status on various social networks updated. In those efforts we often ignore the real relations and even not enjoy the good times. For us it is important to take selfies or group photos on a dinner table, while having a get-together with friends; and post it on social network, almost in real time. Now, in order to do it in real time, we are not concentrating in enjoying the event itself. Which is very wrong.

Of course you cannot stop using social networking websites/apps, or modern technologies. Just remember you need to know where to stop (Remember the “banana” spelling incident).

That is what it is called Wisdom.

Links to follow


The speech was really inspirational as well as full of wise things to follow. Remember the article is not a word-to-word listing of Arianna’s commencement speech. The evaluation is all our own, including the thoughts. We are curious to know what do you think of this commencement speech?

Do let us know your thoughts via comments below. And yes, don’t forget to share it with your fiends on various social networks.

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