Comedian Conan O’Brien delivered the commencement address at Dartmouth College yesterday (June 12), and he didn’t miss the chance to deliver an MBA bashing line to the crowd. In the spirit of Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy, he said he felt the need to set forth his own policy at the Ivy League school. O’Brien called it “The Conan Doctrine.”
His very first rule: “All bachelor degrees will be upgraded to master’s degrees. All master’s degrees will be upgraded to PhDs. And all MBA students will be immediately transferred to a white collar prison.”
Over at The Tuck School, General Electric Co. Chairman Jeffrey Immelt had a different view. Among other things, he said the need to innovate requires that students continue learning well after they receive their MBAs. “The dumbest I was, was the day I graduated from school,” said Immelt. “One of their goals needs to be the ability to get smarter and look around corners as time goes on.” After all, in a reverse-innovation world, the CEO needs to be both bold enough to bet on uncertain new industries but also humble enough to look for new ideas in unexpected places. “The obvious things are obvious because you already know them,” he says. “To be successful,” adds Immelt, “you have to have a notion that people count. You need to treat everybody, from the factory floor to the board room, with respect.”
For laughs, here’s Conan O’Brien’s complete commencement address.
I’ve been living in Los Angeles for two years, and I’ve never been this cold in my life. I will pay anyone here $300 for GORE-TEX gloves. Anybody. I’m serious. I have the cash.
Before I begin, I must point out that behind me sits a highly admired President of the United States and decorated war hero while I, a cable television talk show host, has been chosen to stand here and impart wisdom. I pray I never witness a more damning example of what is wrong with America today.
Graduates, faculty, parents, relatives, undergraduates, and old people that just come to these things: Good morning and congratulations to the Dartmouth Class of 2011. Today, you have achieved something special, something only 92 percent of Americans your age will ever know: a college diploma. That’s right, with your college diploma you now have a crushing advantage over 8 percent of the workforce. I’m talking about dropout losers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. Incidentally, speaking of Mr. Zuckerberg, only at Harvard would someone have to invent a massive social network just to talk with someone in the next room.