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Comment: Ex-library book. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting.
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10 1/2 Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said Hardcover – May 7, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Likely to be a primary source for many a commencement speaker for some time to come . . . well-stocked with valuable (and whimsical) insights.” (Boston Globe)

About the Author

Charles Wheelan is the author of the best-selling Naked Statistics and Naked Economics and is a former correspondent for The Economist. He teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College and lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his family.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (May 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393074315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393074314
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
One of the most unique opportunities I have had was when I was invited to be the commencement speaker at my undergraduate Alma mater Kennesaw State University. I did not really know what to share with these newly minted graduates. I had sat through my share of commencements and did not even remember my own undergraduate commencement speaker at my graduation.
Now there is a book that will help anyone in that dilemma. In 10 ½ Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said by Charles Wheelan, the author shares wisdom that he wishes would have been in his hands as a new graduate.
Wheelan got a chance to share his thoughts to his own undergraduate school some twenty years after he left. These ideas are more than the mere pump you up I told you so but real good insight. The book expands from his lecture at the 2011 Class Day Speech at Dartmouth College.
From "your parents don't want what is best for you" they want what is good for you. Parents want their children to be able to survive on their own.
How "It's all borrowed time", this is so true. When we are young we believe our own mortality but we discover that life's a time sensitive adventure.
Most importantly I thought the best was "Don't try to be great" just be solid. Good character and ethic will in the long run not lead you a stray.
I won't list them all so that you will have to get the book, but these gems are a treasure for anyone at any age. It is the perfect gift for the newly minted graduate or someone that needs some might words of wisdom to renew their own journey.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have purchased this book for both of my adult children - both now pursuing doctoral degrees. I wish it had been written 40 years ago, and that I had read it then, and taken it's advice to heart (especially the part about seeking life experience before seeking work experience in the first year after college). The advice Wheelan gives, though, isn't just for people graduating from college - it's for people graduating into life. Highly recommended for anyone.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is well written, and I was able to finish it in one sitting, which is something I rarely do.

As with any 'self-help' book, some judgment is needed to determine how to apply (or not apply) the advice in this book to the context of each person's life. That said, in my opinion, the author offers a lot of sound advice, some of which could be viewed as a bit unorthodox. The advice is targeted towards people graduating from college, but most of it applies to later stages of life as well, and some (not all) of it also applies to younger people.

Here are the key points of the book from my vantage point, which roughly align with the chapter titles:

(1) Happiness in life largely comes from our personal relationships, having a sense of purpose, health, and enriching experiences. Money makes a difference also, but it provides a diminishing benefit once people get beyond say upper middle class (but I would qualify this by noting that the value and benefit of money depends highly on how it's used, and isn't simply a function of the amount of money).

(2) Achieving anything significant requires sacrifices, delayed gratification, and going through periods of self-doubt and failure, so perseverance is essential. But also recognize that the journey is at least as important as the end goal, so be sure to smell the roses along the way, keeping in mind that none of us knows how long our life will be and some lives wind up being much shorter than average. The tradeoff between living in the moment and living for the future must be navigated every day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

(3) Even if you don't aspire to greatness, at least aspire to being solid.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been a big fan of Wheelan's since reading Naked Economics and this book is equally well-written,intelligent, and humorous. He combines his personal life experiences and some social science data to give advice to a graduating class at his alma mater. I enjoyed reading all of them. Number 7 1/2--surprisingly criticized as trite by another reviewer--was my personal favorite; here Wheelan explains why parents' advice is often misguided despite good intentions.

I would make two minor criticisms: 1. I don't know if one should take his advice and not strive to be great. Wheelan argues that aiming for greatness puts too much pressure on people. I think that's an oversimplification--How many great scientists/athletes/writers/etc. are only great becuase they were determined to be great), and 2. I question whether you can put an actual numerical value on a happy marriage (Wheelan gives a number of $100,000/yr). Nevertheless, this is an outstanding book well worth reading and buying.
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Format: Hardcover
June is a beautiful time of year when, traditionally, couples get married and college graduates earn their degrees. What can be irritating for those who attend graduation exercises is listening to boring speeches that seem to last forever while the assembled throng snoozes, bakes in the sun (if the ceremony is outdoors on a bright day), and dreams of being somewhere else. Occasionally, however, a speaker gets up and tells graduates what they need to know rather than what they want to hear.

Forty-five year old Charles Wheelan (Dartmouth - class of 1988) is a professor of economics and public policy. "Ten and a Half Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said" is adapted from remarks he made to Dartmouth's class of 2011. Professor Wheelan skipped the usual platitudes and dispensed "nonconventional advice." Instead of praising the students for their achievements and assuring them that the world was waiting eagerly for their contributions, he answered the following questions: What is "the good life" and how can we achieve it?

Wheelan warns young people not to be drudges. Although he acknowledges that it is meritorious to work hard towards a goal, doing so may, in some cases, be counterproductive. Those who are too focused on earning money and/or being successful may develop tunnel vision and fail to benefit from enriching social and recreational activities. For example, the author and his future wife, Leah, took time off after college and traveled around the world. Not only was their trip exciting and enjoyable, but it also made them more well-rounded, perceptive, and better equipped to tackle life's challenges.
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