Adam Carolla: Don't Make Things Worse

Jun 4, 2018

Adam Carolla, comedian, social critic and host of the wildly popular Adam Carolla podcast, delivers the 2018 commencement address for PragerU. He offers some sage advice and makes a heart-felt request — as only Adam can.

Being successful isn’t about having a fad degree from an expensive college—it’s about performing in the workplace.

  • Education is vital, but when it comes to the workplace, valuable job skills, hard work, and personal responsibility are what truly lead to a successful, lasting career.View Source
  • The measure of the worth of a degree isn’t about how expensive a college is; it’s whether that degree helps prepare an individual for the work world. Many colleges hand out a lot of overpriced degrees in fields that don’t translate to the professional world.View Source
  • WATCH: “Don't Follow Your Passion” – Mike RoweView Source
  • Related reading: “America and the Value of Earned Success” – Arthur BrooksView Source

Want to succeed professionally? Start by refusing to make excuses and taking personal responsibility for getting the job done.

  • Success at things that matter in life, like love, job satisfaction, and family, all require patience, consistent work, and personal responsibility to achieve.View Source
  • In the professional world, the surest route to success is to learn valuable skills that are in demand.View Source
  • WATCH: “Fix Yourself” – Jordan PetersonView Source

By shielding students from opposing views and delaying adult responsibility, colleges aren’t preparing young people for the work world. 

  • While college benefits many, it also often delays adult responsibility, making it harder for young adults to transition to the workplace.View Source
  • Many fad degrees don’t actually prepare students for the needs of the economy.View Source
  • Related reading: “Today’s Intellectually Challenged College Protestors” – The Heritage FoundationView Source
  • WATCH: “What Every Graduate Should Know” – Dennis PragerView Source

The secret to succeeding in the work place: Don’t do your “best.” Do the job—and do it well.  

  • Want to succeed professionally? Doing your best is not enough. Instead, do the job, and do it well.View Source
  • Passion for a job is important, but it can come and go and shouldn’t be one’s only guide professionally.View Source
  • There are no “trigger warnings” in business. You have to do your job no matter what you feel.View Source
  • WATCH: Arthur Brooks on “why earned success is so important.”View Source

Failing to take responsibility for your own actions leads to personal and professional failure.

  • Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson on the importance of personal responsibility: “Blaming others for your problems is a complete waste of time. When you do that, you don’t learn anything. You can’t grow, and you can’t mature. Thus, you can’t make your life better.View Source
  • WATCH: Adam Carolla on the need to take responsibility for one’s actions.View Source

Colleges have failed the younger generation by selling them expensive degrees that don’t translate to the professional world. 

  • The younger generation has been sold overly expensive and often useless college degrees, while profitable skills have gone by the wayside.View Source
  • Mike Rowe on why “following your passion” can be bad advice: “Right now, millions of people with degrees and diplomas are out there competing for a relatively narrow set of opportunities that polite society calls ‘good careers.’ Meanwhile, employers are struggling to fill nearly 5.8 million jobs that nobody’s trained to do. This is the skills gap, it’s real, and its cause is actually very simple: when people follow their passion, they miss out on all kinds of opportunities they didn’t even know existed.”View Source
  • WATCH: “I Learned More At McDonald’s Than At College” – Olivia LegaspiView Source

I never graduated college.

I never even went to college.

I went to the University of Digging Ditches on Construction Sites – go Fighting Shovels!

So, why should you listen to me?

Hmmm, let’s see… Well, I run a business that I built myself. So, let me give you a couple of tips.

I hire and fire people like you all the time. And I’ve seen a pattern with your generation—something I call “The Language of Losers.” Let me give you some examples:

“I did my best.” My assistant told me this once after screwing up royally. And I said, “Matt, if you did your best and you screwed up royally, then I need to fire you right now. The answer is either, ‘I didn’t do my best, I’ll do better next time’ or, ‘I’m drunk right now and need to sit down.’ So the phrase I’ve drilled into my employees is, ‘Don’t do your best; do my best.’”

Another example: I had a young employee once say to me, “I’m sorry. I screwed up. Next time, I’ll triple check.” And I said, “Did you single check? Did you double check? How did you get to triple check?” I know how he got to triple check. Single check is a screw up. Double check is…ehhhh…a flub. And triple check is, “Hey, what do you want from me?” So, he hopped right to triple-check after not single- or double-checking.

And the worst one—the one that’s driving me nuts, the one that’s destroying our society, the one that got hold of the piece of thread of the sweater of society and is just unraveling it: “I feel.” “I feel threatened.” “I feel I’m being treated unfairly.” “I feel you’re a bully.” You’re 23. You live at home. Your bed is shaped like a race car and it’s covered with stuffies and your huggie-bookie. Nobody cares how you feel.

So, no excuses. Please. If you do the job you’re hired to do and you do it well, your employer will never stop thanking you and lavishing you with ponies, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Now, you do your job well and you’re not rewarded? Someone else will find you and reward you. Believe me, that’s how the universe works.

But, let’s face it—the chances of any of you working for me are slim to none. The chances some of you may go out there and set some policy are pretty good. And most of you are going to vote on that policy. So, let me ask you a favor: please, stay away from my freedom.

If you want to know about the loss of freedom, look no further than the beach. I grew up in Southern California. I used to go to the beach all the time. There was one sign, and that sign read, “No lighting vans on fire and throwing the homeless into it.” Now you go to the beach and the sign looks like a menu from Fuddruckers. It never ends! No football. No fires. No smoking. No alcohol. And now, no frisbee. No digging. No sandcastle. No dogs.

The beach is a metaphor for this country. It’s freedom. It means freedom. Everyone who came to this country landed on the beach. They didn’t land in Nebraska. They pulled up to the beach, they cracked a beer, they lit a cigarette, and they threw a frisbee.

And now, you can’t do jack squat on the beach. Look no further than the beach sign from the fifties and the beach sign from 2018. All it gets is longer. And, do the politicians ever show up with their eraser and go, “Hmm…let’s remove a few of these Orwellian ideas that we put on this bonderized steel in front of the beach”? No! More things to assure we have a horrible time at the beach, don’t enjoy ourselves and, more importantly, could get a ticket—just because we’re there, trying to drink a cold one, make a sandcastle, and throw the dog the tennis ball.

Don’t be one of those people who adds to the sign on the beach. You be with me: sittin’ on a folding chair with a cigar between my lips and a beer between my legs.

So, you’re graduating and you’re all idealistic. You want to make the world a better place. Here’s my request: Don’t make it worse.

I’m Adam Carolla for Prager University.

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