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It’s graduation season and commencement speeches are in full swing on YouTube.

I love watching them. It makes me nostalgic – the graduation parties, the excitement and anxiety about the future, even the hangover headache that accompanied me to the commencement ceremony. As I watch these great speeches, I feel the hopefulness of being young and I get re-inspired.

This year when I noticed that one of my favorite actors had given a commencement speech I was excited and curious to hear what he had to say.

charlie day

You’ve heard me talk about the movie Horrible Bosses before. The main reason I love this movie so much is because of the actor Charlie Day; he’s also one of the guys who created It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, one of my favorite shows. It’s edgy, inappropriate and hilarious!

Charlie’s speech has gone viral. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check it out here.

Needless to say, I was far from disappointed with his speech. While he’s obviously funny, he’s also charming, articulate and inspiring.

So, I’ve put together Cliff’s Notes of Charlie’s speech for you in the hopes it will inspire you as it did me. Because I fully agree with him on all of these points, I feel compelled to pass them on.

1. Having a Plan B can muddy your Plan A

A safety net can make you feel better but it can also keep you from making the decisions that’ll lead you to greatness. If you’re going to fail, do it in a place where you’d be proud to fail.

Charlie talks about how he turned down a “safe” job offer right out of college to take a chance on being an actor in New York. The safe banking job would’ve been less of a risk but it would’ve taken him further from what he was meant to do.

Take risks but in the right direction.

Taking or staying in a “safe” job is risky because it may keep you from doing what makes you great. Take a risk in the direction you want to go, even if it sets you back in the short term.

2. Don’t wait for your break, make your break

This is about making opportunities instead of waiting for them to be handed to you.

Charlie shares a story about an opportunity he had to act in a network sitcom and how he turned it down to create his own show which was far riskier. The sitcom was cancelled after 1 season. His show is on track to be the longest running comedy in history.

He created opportunities to write, act and produce his own show that were far better than those coming to him. Were they riskier, yes. Were they worth it, yes.

Make a bet on yourself.

In the work I do now, my clients face this all the time. Many times new jobs and opportunities aren’t out there waiting to be found but need to be created. We have to take action in order for them to reveal themselves.

Or as I did when I went out on my own, we have to make them happen in order for them to exist at all.

3. You don’t have to be fearless but don’t let fear stop you

Once he accepted the offer to give a commencement speech, Charlie immediately felt afraid. The fear led to comparison and anxiety and it almost stopped him from doing it all together.

design (2)

He says, “You cannot succeed without this risk of failure. You cannot have a voice without this risk of criticism and you cannot love without the risk of loss.”

We must take these risks. Everything he’s proud of has been a terrifying risk. I couldn’t agree more.

Feel the fear. Acknowledge it, instead of pretending it’s not there. And then decide to move forward. It’s hard to do but it must be done.

4. Don’t do what makes you happy. Do what makes you great.

Doing what makes you great will usually be uncomfortable, scary, and hard. Be willing to fail. Do it in the way that’ll make you proud.

Fail and then pick yourself up and fail again. Without struggle, what’s the point?


I already loved Charlie Day- his hilarious voice, his facial expressions, his characters. Now I love him even more.

I hope even one of these points lights a fire in you. It sure lights one in me.

What about you: which of his points inspires you the most? What’s your best advice for living your greatness? 

And if this article “does it for you” at all, I’d love for you to share, like, or tweet it!


 Anne Omland is a career development expert, writer and mentor. She uses her years of experience as a VP for a Fortune 500 company to share all she knows from the “other side” of the table. Her mission is to help ambitious women create corporate careers that are sustainable, mindful and purposeful. Seen as a career stylist, she can help you customize your career to fit your lifestyle perfectly. Click here to inquire about working with Anne.  
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  • Llyane @FrenchOnSkype July 8, 2014, 4:07 pm

    Oh, I love #4!
    Though I know that there are plenty of people who are really unhappy with their jobs, making the differentiation between happy/great helps me focus better.
    Thanks so much!

    • Anne Omland July 8, 2014, 5:23 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for your support, Llyane!

  • Donna Schwartz July 8, 2014, 4:32 pm

    Great article that was spot on for all your points! The only way I was able to achieve a really huge goal for me recently was to go after it, and make my break. Massive action made it happen!

    • Anne Omland July 8, 2014, 5:23 pm

      Nice, Donna! I love that go-for-it attitude- it’s inspiring!

  • Mike Goncalves July 8, 2014, 4:55 pm

    Great stuff Anne, thanks for sharing it and providing Cliff Notes of the speech. I loved every single one of his points. I’m a big believer in #1 and completed stand behind the comment, take a risk in the direction you want to go, even if it sets you back in the short term. #4 is an absolute must for me. When I go to bed excited and wake up excited with all I am doing and working on, I know I’m on the right track.

    • Anne Omland July 8, 2014, 5:22 pm

      That’s awesome. We’re so conditioned to want a pay off immediately, this take real discipline and a belief in yourself. Thanks Mike!

  • Stacey July 8, 2014, 4:59 pm

    I think point #2 connects to my core the most. You really can’t wait for anyone else to make something happen if you desire forward movement. Along with that you have to take risks, but I think too often, people give of themselves expecting some kind of reward, monetary or otherwise, as a return in their investment. It is critical to take action on your ideas and turn thoughts into reality in my humble opinion, without any expectations! Thanks for another great share…

    • Anne Omland July 8, 2014, 5:20 pm

      Well said, Stacey! Thanks for your support!

  • Lily July 8, 2014, 5:16 pm

    I really resonate with “Don’t wait for your break, make your break”. If I had waited for the perfect career opportunity, I never would have taken the leap to start my own business. It’s certainly not the easy way out, but it’s far more fulfilling!

    • Anne Omland July 8, 2014, 5:20 pm

      It’s true, Lily. The hard way can be the more fulfilling route. Thanks for being here!

  • Jennifer Twardowski July 8, 2014, 5:29 pm

    Love these! Especially #3… cause I’ve crossed paths with several people who, for some reason, think that in order to be “brave” you then shouldn’t experience fear at all. Well, the reality is that the fear is still there, it’s just a matter of not letting it hold you back. :-)

    Thank you so much for sharing! :-) It’s a great read!

    • Anne Omland July 9, 2014, 1:38 pm

      Thanks so much, Jennifer! I agree, #3 is my favorite too. It’s nice to hear this advice of knowing we’re all afraid and we have to accept it. I think it means we’re moving in the right direction. Now…to follow this advice :)

  • Camesha July 8, 2014, 8:47 pm

    Number one resonates with me the most. I am the queen of being logical so I naturally create a Plan B. I agree that if you only have one plan then you work your arse off because you can’t afford for it not to work out.

    • Anne Omland July 9, 2014, 1:36 pm

      Yes! I also typically have a plan B…and it’s always like a comfy cushion that I almost want to fall into at times. I know it’s time for me to get rid of the cushy safety net and commit to that plan A! :) Thanks Camesha!

  • Julia July 8, 2014, 9:31 pm

    Another good one Anne!

    Point #1 was my favorite. “A safety net can make you feel better but it can also keep you from making the decisions that’ll lead you to greatness. If you’re going to fail, do it in a place where you’d be proud to fail.” I’m a chronic over-thinker, full of Plan B’s, Plan C’s, and sometimes Plan D’s. Sometimes it’s all that planning that just keeps you from moving. I’m motivated to simply have an idea and just dive in!

    • Anne Omland July 9, 2014, 1:34 pm

      Thanks Julia! This is awesome. I can’t wait to hear how it works for you.

  • Sam July 8, 2014, 11:54 pm

    what an awesome article!
    I love all the tips, particularly that having a plan B can muddy your plan A. It takes away the focus in the right direction!
    I think we need to evolve plan A if it doesn’t work out, otherwise you often fall back to plan B before you really need to.

    • Anne Omland July 9, 2014, 1:33 pm

      Great point, Sam. It’s true- if Plan A doesn’t work out, we’re quick to fall back into plan B. Thanks for being here! xo

  • Beth July 9, 2014, 1:22 am

    Point #1 strikes me the most. I didn’t even try my Plan A, I settled for Plan B straight out of college! And I was laid off from that job and found another Plan B job. Doh! But I’m working on Plan A and consequently points 2-4 above. Also, I think I need to check out It’s Always Sunny…

    • Anne Omland July 9, 2014, 1:32 pm

      You’re not the only one! I’ve been there too. And yes, check it out! It’s not for the straight-edge folks. I think you’ll like it :)

  • april July 9, 2014, 5:23 am

    “don’t do what makes you happy, do what makes you great.” wow. i love all of charlie’s points that you’ve outlined above. but this one especially struck me. you always hear people saying “do what makes you happy.” i’ve said this myself. but how much stronger, how much braver, how much more inspiring . . . to do what makes you GREAT. thank you, anne, for this introduction to charlie day!

    • Anne Omland July 9, 2014, 1:30 pm

      No problem, April. I’m glad he’s inspired you too!

  • Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin July 9, 2014, 5:45 pm

    Oh how I love “Do What Makes You Great.” Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jennifer Kennedy July 9, 2014, 9:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing this Anne! This is an exciting time of year. Matter of fact, I used to be a classroom teacher and my first group of first and 4th graders that I ever taught graduated this year. It was exciting to see them graduate and move on to the next phase of their life.

    I resonated with #2, make your own break! It took me a long time to move past fear to do some of the things that I’ve loved. But, that experience has shaped how I will approach future projects.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Sara Yamtich July 10, 2014, 2:09 pm

    I think my favorite line is this one: “You cannot succeed without this risk of failure. You cannot have a voice without this risk of criticism and you cannot love without the risk of loss.”

    Every day that I post a blog article, host a community call, or even sometimes meet with a client, I feel fear. Sometimes I almost feel nauseated by that fear! But I PUSH THROUGH, and magical exhilarating things happen.

    All the lessons really touched me, but this one is most relevant for me today. Thank you for sharing! (Also, I have that speech queued up to watch later today, and I’m really looking forward to it!)

    • Anne Omland July 10, 2014, 2:16 pm

      Thanks Sara! I think you’ll enjoy it even though I’ve spoiled some of the surprise :)

      And I agree. I feel fear all the time. Literally, almost everyday. But once I’ve pushed through, I always feel stronger and proud. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Nina July 10, 2014, 3:04 pm

    This is something everyone needs to read, you are so right! Never let fear stop you and never give up on finding your calling. Great post!

    • Anne Omland July 11, 2014, 12:30 pm

      Thanks so much Nina!

  • April July 14, 2014, 12:51 am

    Anne, this was a greatly timed post!!! I LOVE #4 in particular!! Thanks so much for sharing the key take-away’s! Great read as always!!!

    • Anne Omland July 15, 2014, 1:06 pm

      Thanks April! x

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