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‘Remember that the story is never over’: Conan O’Brien

Speaking at Harvard in 2000, TV host Conan O’Brien spoke on the need to pick oneself up after every failure. After talking about his life and the many opportunities that came his way, he said, “I took a lot of criticism, some of it deserved, some of it excessive. And it hurt like you wouldn’t believe it. But I’m telling you all this for a reason. I’ve had a lot of success and I’ve had a lot of failures. I’ve looked good and I’ve looked bad. I’ve been praised and I’ve been criticised. But my mistakes have been necessary.”

“I’ve dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed. Your need to always find yourself on the sweet side of the bell curve. Because success is a lot like a bright, white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you’re desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it in any way. I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of The Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous,” he continued.

“And yet, every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good. So, that’s what I wish for all of you: the bad as well as the good. Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over.”

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