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We’re not saying that every celebrity is a beacon of wisdom, but this group of authors, politicians, actors, comedians, entrepreneurs and lawyers definitely knows a thing or two about success and living the good life. Here, 12 commencement speeches that will make you laugh, give you all the feels and totally inspire you (no cap and gown necessary).

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J. K. Rowling, Harvard University (2008)

Most inspiring quote: “You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”

Barack Obama, Barnard College (2012)

Most inspiring quote: “Don't just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.”

Amy Poehler, Harvard (2011)

Most inspiring quote: “Take your risks now. As you grow older, you become more fearful and less flexible…Limit your ‘always’ and your ‘nevers.’ Continue to share your heart with people even if it's been broken.”

Oprah Winfrey, Stanford (2008)

Most inspiring quote: “And how do you know when you're doing something right? How do you know that? It feels so. What I know now is that feelings are really your GPS system for life. When you're supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know. The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead.”

Stephen Colbert, Northwestern (2011)

Most inspiring quote: “Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what's going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along. And like improv, you cannot win your life.”

Zadie Smith, The New School (2014)

Most inspiring quote: “There will always be folks hard selling you the life of the few: the private schools, private plans, private islands, private life. They are trying to convince you that hell is other people. Don't believe it. We are far more frequently each other's shelter and correction, the antidote to solipsism, and so many windows on this world.”

Meryl Streep, Barnard (2010)

Most inspiring quote: “This is your time, and it feels normal to you; but really there is no normal. There’s only change, and resistance to it and then more change.”

Steve Jobs, Stanford (2005)

Most inspiring quote: “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Ellen Degeneres, Tulane (2009)

Most inspiring quote: “Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else's path unless you're in the woods and you're lost and you see a path, then by all means you should follow that.”

Conan O’Brien, Dartmouth (2011)

Most inspiring quote: “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.”

Denzel Washington, University of Pennsylvania (2011)

Most inspiring quote: “Fall forward. This is what I mean: Reggie Jackson struck out 2,600 times in his career, the most in the history of baseball. But you don't hear about the strikeouts. People remember the home runs. Fall forward. Thomas Edison conducted 1,000 failed experiments. Did you know that? I didn't know that because the 1,001st was the light bulb. Fall forward. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”

Amal Clooney, Vanderbilt University (2018)

Most inspiring quote: “It’s character traits like persistence, ambition, inquisitiveness and grit that will determine your success. And perhaps more than anything that will define you is your courage. That is the virtue on which all others depend.”

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