More positivity: Salman Khan at Rice University’s 2012 commencement

Salman Kahn

Sal Kahn’s 2012 comment address at Rice University was memorable — and not just because we are both Rice grads. You will not the regret seventeen minutes of your time to see what he had to say. The Rice University news has a brief summary of Kahn’s remarks. Excerpts: 

Commencement speaker Salman Khan’s address to the graduates focused on contributions of a different kind: He urged the students to do everything they can to “increase the net happiness in the world.”

(…) Khan offered an example of how a Rice grad had made a difference in his own life. In 2009, he quit his job as a hedge fund analyst to devote his energy to building Khan Academy online. For months, he struggled to find support until Ann Doerr ’75, a Rice alumna, gave him the financial backing he needed to get Khan Academy up and running.

Doerr, an environmental activist, and her husband, Silicon Valley venture capitalist and Rice alum John Doerr ’73, have made generous contributions to Rice, as well. A $15 million gift from their Beneficus Foundation in 2010 established the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, and John Doerr was the university’s commencement speaker in 2007.

Ann Doerr’s belief in Khan – and her willingness to show her support – was crucial, Khan said.

“Obviously the money was a good deal,” he said. “But the real power of what Ann did was that act of empowerment, that act of validation.”

His advice for the graduates was to do the same thing – to support and validate others who do good things, even in small ways.

“Don’t just sit by and observe it,” Khan said. “Recognize it. When you do that, all sorts of things are going to start percolating in the universe.”

(…) Fifty years from now, Khan told the graduates, they’ll have regrets – “we’ll all have them.” He urged them to try “a little thought experiment”: Imagine, he said, that 50 years from now a genie gives you a chance to go back in time, take you “right here, to May 2012.” He urged the graduates to live now as if it were their “second pass” through life.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be here,” Khan told the Class of 2012, “just completely excited by what you all are going to do in your ‘second pass.’”