June 13th, 2011
01:25 PM ET
Dartmouth College's president Dr. Jim Yong Kim shook with laughter as Conan O'Brien gave the school's commencement speech with his signature sharp wit, deploring the state of America as evidenced by his place at the podium.
"If Harvard, Yale and Princeton are your self-involved, vain, name-dropping older brothers, you are the cool, sexually-confident, lacrosse-playing younger sibling who knows how to throw a party and looks good in a down vest," O'Brien told the graduates.
The "Conan" host, a Harvard University graduate, gave a speech that managed to provide laughs while still dishing out some words of wisdom, which he said he learned after his NBC late-night debacle in 2010.
"At the age of 47, after 25 years of obsessively pursuing my dream, that dream changed," he said. "I thought achieving that goal would define me as successful. But that is not true. No specific job or career goal defines me, and it should not define you."
O'Brien said the past year has been spontaneous and unconventional but he confessed it was also one of the most satisfying. Although he repeated the advice he gave Harvard graduates at the University's 2000 commencement to not be afraid of failure, he added that students should expect their dreams to change.
"It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique - it's not easy," he acknowledged. "But if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention."
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