“Graduates of Yale University, I apologize if you have endured this type of prologue before, but I want you to do something for me. Please, take a good look around you. Look at the classmate on your left. Look at the classmate on your right.
Now, consider this: five years from now, 10 years from now, even thirty years from now, odds are the person on your left is going to be a loser. The person on your right, meanwhile, will also be a loser. And you, in the middle? What can you expect? Loser. Loserhood. Loser Cum Laude. In fact, as I look out before me today, I don’t see a thousand hopes for a bright tomorrow. I don’t see a thousand future leaders in a thousand industries. I see a thousand losers. You’re upset. That’s understandable. After all, how can I,Lawrence “Larry” Ellison, college dropout, have the audacity to spout such heresy to the graduating class of one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions?
I’ll tell you why. Because I, Lawrence “Larry” Ellison, second richest man on the planet, am college dropout, and you are not. Because Bill Gates, richest man on the planet-for now anyway-is a college dropout, and you are not. Because Paul Allen, the third richest man on the planet, dropped out of college, and you did not. And for good measure, because Michael Dell, No.9 on the list and moving up fast, is a college dropout, and you, yet again, are not.
Hmm … you’re very upset. That’s understandable. So let me stroke your Egos for a moment by pointing out, quite sincerely, that your diplomas were not attained in vain. Most of you, I imagine, have spent four to five years here, and in many ways what you’ve learned and endured will serve you well in the years ahead. You’ve established good work habits. You’ve established a network of people that will help you down the road. And you’ve established what will be lifelong relationships with the word “therapy.” All that of is good.
For in truth, you will need that network. You will need those strong work habits. You will need that therapy. You will need them because you didn’t drop out, and so you will never be among the richest people in the world. Oh sure, you may, perhaps, work your way up to #10 or #11, like Steve Ballmer. But then, I don’t have to tell you who he really works for, do I? And for the record, he dropped out of grad school. Bit of a late bloomer.
Finally, I realize that many of you, and hopefully by now most of you, Are wondering, “Is there anything I can do? Is there any hope for me at all? Actually, no. It’s too late. You’ve absorbed too much, think you know too much. You’re not 9 anymore. You have a built-in cap,and I’m not referring to the mortarboards on your heads.
Hmm … you’re really very upset. That’s understandable. So perhaps this Could be a good time to bring up the silver lining. Not for you, Class of ‘00. You are a write-off, so I’ll let you slink off to your pathetic $200,000-a-year jobs, where your cheques will be signed by former classmates who dropped out two years ago. Instead, I want to give hope to any underclassmen here today. I say to you, and I can’t stress this enough: leave. Pack your things and your ideas and don’t come back. Drop out. Start up. For I can tell you that a cap and gown will keep you down just as surely as these security guards dragging me off this stage are keeping me down…”
(At this point The Oracle CEO was ushered off stage.)