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Starting a Business

Obama's 3 Tips for Young Entrepreneurs on How to Live the American Dream

Obama's 3 Tips for Young Entrepreneurs on How to Live the American Dream
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Entrepreneur Staff
Special Projects Director and Founder of This Dog's Life
4 min read

Editor’s Note: With the 2013 graduation season in full swing, is culling the top tips and pieces of advice from commencement addresses given by some of the world's most inspiring leaders. Stay tuned for more from this year's commencement circuit.

What better way to kick-off the graduation season than with a few inspiring words from the U.S.'s commander and chief, President Barack Obama. In his speech at Ohio State University on May 5, Obama spoke about the importance of citizenship -- "We are not a collection of strangers," he said. "We are bound to one another by a set of ideals and a deep devotion to this country we love." And how this belief will drive Americans to choose a path that not only brings meaning to themselves but to the country.

Just as Obama is living his American dream, he provided three tips on how young entrepreneurs -- and young people in general -- can too:

1. Failure is expected.

Whether you start a business or run for office or devote yourself to alleviating poverty or hunger, remember that nothing worth doing happens overnight. A British inventor named James Dyson went through more than 5,000 prototypes before getting that first really fancy vacuum cleaner just right. We remember Michael Jordan’s six championships, not his nearly 15,000 missed shots. As for me, I lost my first race for Congress, and look at me now.

The point is, in your life, you will fail. You will stumble, and you will fall. But that will make you better. You’ll get it right the next time. And that’s not only true for your personal pursuits, but for the broader causes you believe in as well. But don’t give up. Don’t lose heart.

Related: Michael Bloomberg's 7 Steps to the Top

2. Ignore the cynics. 

The cynics may be the loudest voices -- but they accomplish the least. It’s the silent disruptors -- those who do the long, hard, committed work of change -- that gradually push this country in the right direction and make the most lasting difference.

Whenever you feel that creeping cynicism. Whenever you hear those voices say you can’t make that difference. Whenever somebody tells you to set your sights lower -- the trajectory of America should give you hope. What young generations have done before you should give you hope.

Related: Former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt and His Top 5 Tips for Excellence

3. Dream big.

We are blessed to live in the greatest nation on Earth. But we can always be greater. We can always aspire to something more. That doesn’t depend on who you elect to office. It depends on you, as citizens, how big you want to be, and how badly you want it.

Some of you have already launched startup companies of your own. And I suspect that those of you who pursue more education, or climb the corporate ladder, or enter the arts or sciences or journalism, will still choose a cause you care about in your life and fight like heck to make it happen. We, the people, chose to do these things together. Because we know this country cannot accomplish great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambition.

Look at all America has accomplished. Look at how big we’ve been. I dare you to do better. I dare you to be better.

This is an edited excerpt from President Barack Obama's 2013 commencement speech. For the full, unedited speech, watch below.

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