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Arianna Huffington, Maria Shriver, Jon Steinberg & More Media Folks Bestow Advice in Commencement Speeches

This time of year is full of such aspiration and hope, isn’t it? Thanks to college graduations there’s a little more magic and excitement in the air. And oh yeah, commencement speeches, too.

Well, as part of their influencer series, LinkedIn compiled excerpts from successful people (okay, more like moguls) this spring and we extracted relevant media professionals because every now and then it helps to get a boost of advice.

Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief at The Huffington Post Media Group stated:

“Commencement speakers are traditionally expected to tell graduates how to go out there and climb the ladder of success, but I want to ask you, instead, to redefine success. Because the world you are headed into desperately needs it. And because you are up to it…what I urge you to do is not just take your place at the top of the world, but to change the world.

But it’s time for a third metric, beyond money and power — one founded on well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder, and to give back. Money and power by themselves are a two legged stool — you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over. And more and more people, very successful people, are toppling over. Basically, success the way we’ve defined it is no longer sustainable. It’s no longer sustainable for human beings or for societies.”

Emily Chang, host of Bloomberg West, switched gears from the balance of success to your passion:

“It sounds obvious, but my advice is: Don’t pursue a career because you think you should or because you think it will make you rich. It only means you’ll have less time to try to find something you love down the road. Rather than doing what you think you should do first, make what you really want to do Plan A. If it doesn’t work out, you can always move on to Plan B. But, if you are lucky enough to find something you love, chances are better you’ll be good at it, you’ll make money doing it, it will lead to new and exciting opportunities, and you’ll most certainly be happier. Take the big risks now. Take that leap of faith now. It only gets harder to take risks and leaps further down the line.”

As for Maria Shriver, author, journalist and activist, she chose to focus on being in the present.

“It’s like what we’re doing at this precise moment doesn’t even exist. Everyone is focused on the next thing. Everyone is racing to the Next Thing. Well, I got caught up in that for a really long time — so much so, that I could never really enjoy what I WAS doing, because I was always worried about what I was going to be doing.”

Jon Steinberg, president and COO at BuzzFeed, emphasized maintaining your reputation.

“I learned that once I stated an offer or price, I was stuck with it regardless of whether or not I changed my mind; that my word is my bond. I learned that without your reputation you basically have nothing in business. I learned that you need to be straight and direct with people even when it make you uncomfortable. I would later hear Bill Campbell describe this as being ‘kind and direct.’ I have a list of things like this that I learned from my mentors. I am forever indebted to them.”

How about hearing from an editor? Adam Lashinsky, senior editor at Fortune explained the reality of success:

“When you read the professional bios of successful people, keep in mind that they are written in a way intended to fool you. As you ponder one triumph after another you can be forgiven for thinking that one success flowed easily into the next. Life doesn’t work that way. It is almost always three steps forward, one step back—if you’re lucky. Don’t be discouraged by this.”

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