Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Larry Page Advice to Graduates

Sometime back it was Warren Buffet, now its Larry Page's turn.

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, recently gave a speech at the University of Michigan his Alma mater. Adam herscher recently graduated from the University and he recoreded the entire speech on his cell phone, which he posted on his webpage and braodcasted on Slashdot. Luckily, some guy made the effort to transcribe the entire speech.

So here are some excerpts :

Your son wants to leave his PhD program in Stanford and hasn't graduated yet, would you let him go off and start a crazy company? Your supposed to nod. So maybe not, I guess its really important for people to take risks.

One is that, doing bigger things is easier than doing smaller things. I know that sounds really strange but it turns out, if you do something really big, you can get other people to help you, and you can get more people to help you. You get more of the kind of resources that you need. So its worth thinking about those big things to get done in the world.

One of the biggest things that surprises me is, there is a lot of money out there and resources for things, and there is very few people out there trying to do them. One of the things that amazes me is that very few people approached me that have good ideas, that have a team of people, even a small one, that have a little bit of traction and a good idea.

If you want to change the world, a good way of doing it is to be in a position of authority, positions of leadership.

I know some of [you] will [be] going to business school. I know what its like in business school and I wanted to give you a plug. I think you don't really need to go to business school. You have a pretty rigorous education, much of this covers rocket science, but it does help us to have interests in business. You basically just need the interest and read a lot of books. I read a whole bookshelf full of business books, and that's basically what I needed.

My advice to you, have confidence, fail often, have a healthy disregard for the impossible. You have a huge opportunity to use engineering, technology and businesses skill to improve the world. You should do things that matter, and you should have fun, because otherwise you wont succeed, and you should travel, and I suggest China, Africa and India there's lots of amazing things there.

The good thing about any Slashdot discussion is that if you do have the time to check the comments you will find some very good ones. Let me show an example which is relevant to this blog.

Pavan Gupta comments :

I couldn't agree with Page more ..

larry page: "I know a lot of you are planning on going to business school, but I don't think you need to go to business schoool"

larry page: "I just read a bookshelf of business books"

From a man worth 7 billion dollars, it sure seems to me like his statement on how to run a business is pretty reputable.

Now, check the following replies :


just because a successful business man says don't bother going to b-school doesn't mean he's right. it depends very much on what he said in context. if by "don't go, i just ready books," page meant "don't go to b-school to gain business knowledge, because it's better to gain experience," then his advice is probably a good one. if the message you took home is that someone became successful without going to b-school and he said don't bother, so b-school is useless, then that's not a very smart interpretation of his message.

i know it's not quite the same thing, but a lottery-winning millionaire simply recommending "don't bother to take jobs, just buy lottery tickets" and listening to it simply because he/she is wealthy is dumb, don't you think?


I doubt that you'd base most of your other decisions based on one data point. Why do it now?

For every successful dropout there are thousands who are very unsuccessful. Too often we point to these sui generis cases and say "see! I don't have to go to school." The drop-out, under-educated successful type happens, but it's not the norm.


Blogger Hans said...

Maybe it's the order in which things are done or happen: have an idea and t h e n drop out, don't drop out and t h e n look for ideas.


04 May, 2005 00:36  
Blogger JB said...

I agree that you don't NEED to go to B-school, but the truth is, most people don't actually bother to go out and read all the great books that he is talking about.

Also, you can't forget about all the fun when getting an MBA. I'm working my ass off, but having a great time too.

04 May, 2005 09:48  
Blogger Suhit Anantula said...


I think you are right. One of the reasons for doing an MBA for me was the need to gain structured knowledge...not some random array of books which I was reading anyways.

And yes, have a lot of fun too!


Very good suggestion.

04 May, 2005 11:34  
Blogger sumandatta said...

i agree B-school seems 2 b fun (from reading "Snapshots from Hell") though i didnt get the requisite to get into one.
and though a B-school edu is good it's not 4 everybody-specially some who r pruned out during the selection process but who nonetheless possess the goodies to b successful.
for us the only hope remains good books but then we lack direction and structure. hope someone helps us out someday :-)

04 May, 2005 19:12  
Blogger Suhit Anantula said...


I think that you should not be disheartened.

there are lot of schools in the world and there is still a lot of time left to do an MBA.

What I would suggest you is to start making a list.

First list would be the list of ideas. The fundamental ideas that are required to make a difference to the world.

Start reading these books and develop various mental models.

Then search the internet and make a lit of the subjects/lectures/books and other stuff taught at MBA programs.

I do understand that this is not easy but if you do make the effort I am sure that you can do it.


05 May, 2005 12:47  
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07 May, 2005 17:48  
Blogger Krishna said...

Good one. Commenting on Larry Page, his technique worked for him.

I don’t really think Going to MBA will make any one a good business man or manager. But Personal motivation and preparation like Suhit mentioned will really help any one who wants to reach the top.

17 May, 2005 14:28  
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15 February, 2010 16:19  

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