In former CNN on-air anchor Soledad O’Brien’s address for Harvard’s 2013 Class Day, she passed two important bits of wisdom to the graduates: “Most people are idiots,” and “Don’t take anyone’s advice.”
O’Brien said that the “idiots” advice was passed on to her from her own Cuban-born mother. The former CNN employee, fired by the cable network late in February, said that with time she found her mother was right. Most people are idiots, because, “instead of building you up, they will tell you why you will fail.”
Following that line of thought, O’Brien went on to further build the graduates’ self-esteem, saying they should follow their “hearts” instead of taking advice from others.
Harvard Magazine reports that O’Brien told the audience gathered in Tercentenary Theatre for the Class Day ceremony, “Do not listen to others people’s take on the life you should lead.”
“By not listening, you can figure out what your heart is telling you to do,” she proclaimed.
O’Brien repeatedly returned to her “lead with your heart” theme. Invoking the recent book Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, O’Brien told the class, “Lean in to invest your heart and your soul in ideas or people maybe others don’t care for. Leaning back when you are young is just another word for cynicism.”
She continued to sing the praises of life sans advice. “Not taking advice means you will break those boundaries–those walls that exist that make us feel like we are different from other people we meet,” she said.
O’Brien further advised the students to cut ties with anyone who criticizes them. “Remove people from your life who make you feel bad about who you are and what you want to be… Find greatness and seek out goodness in other people,” she said.