Oprah at Stanford

Wonder if it is customary for those invited to deliver Commencement Speech at Stanford to leave gifts for the students who give them a hearing. Oprah Winfrey who addressed the Stanford Class of ’08 gifted each graduate a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth’, and also A Whole New Mind – Why the Right-Brainers’ Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink.

“I really want to give you cars, but I just couldn’t pull that off,” said America’s best known talk-show host, as she informed her audience about her gift – ‘underneath your seats you’ll find two of my favourite books’. In her speech Oprah shared with Stanford grads, their parents, grand-parents, the faculty and the trustees the lessons she learned from failings, success, and her life in-between that she defined as ‘a reciprocal exchange’. To move forward in life, you need to give back. And it is in the giving, she finds happiness.

She reminded the students that the institution from which they had just graduated was the result of the giving by Jane and Leland Stanford, who had suffered in life the worst any mom and dad could ever endure – the loss of their only son to typhoid, at the age of 15. As Oprah put it, the Stanfords channeled their grief and pain into an act of grace, with their funding grant to the university, pledging to do to others’ children what they were not able to do to their own boy.

Link to Oprah’s Stanford speech was forwarded to friends by Bangalore-based blogger Tanay Behera.

Current TV one-minute video clip of Oprah’s speech

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One Response

  1. Oprah is an outstanding person no doubt. Her talents, generosity and kindness of heart are exemplary. She gives out lots of things in her shows. I think it is reasonable to assume that many attendees do expect something. That is her pregorative. However, giving out something in this case books although appears to be befitting especially when it is a graduation ceremony I doubt if the students need an incentive to read or learn from those books. They have graduated from an elite school and proved their worth. Further, it is reasonable to assume that she would have had the approval of the University for the give aways. However, I am afraid it creates a precedent which many future speakers may not be able to afford to the detriment of the students.

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