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'Silicon Valley' Actor Kumail Nanjiani on Failure, Purpose and Personal Growth

The actor-comedian in a commencement speech encouraged students to explore new ideas, be open to failure and meet different people.
2 min read

Twenty years ago, Kumail Nanjiani moved from his home country of Pakistan to attend college in the U.S. The comedian and star of HBO show Silicon Valley on Monday returned to his alma mater, Grinnell College, to deliver this year’s commencement address.

Related: Mark Zuckerberg Encourages Harvard Grads to Create a Sense of Purpose

Impressed by the diversity of students at the school -- “white, black, queer, gender fluid, every religion, no religion” -- Nanjiani used his speech and his experience to encourage the graduates to meet people unlike them and to explore unfamiliar ideas.

From sharing his experience in a new country to falling in love to reaching success, Nanjiani had some powerful words for the graduating class -- and everyone else.

Here’s what you can learn from him:

1. Don’t be afraid to fail.

“Nobody is paying attention to your failure. The world is full of people failing. People are failing all around you. Failure is boring. Your failure will not be so spectacular that people will write articles about your failure or even remember your failure.

2. Live with purpose.

“You can go slow. Allow your dreams and goals to change, but live an intentional life.”

Related: The Most Inspiring Quotes from 2017 Commencement Speeches

3. Meet different people.

“Populate your life with people different from you. Once you leave school you get to choose the kinds of people you’re going to be around rather than forced to be around them.”

4. Be able to grow.

“Being a fish out of water is tough, but that’s how you evolve.”

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