The School Speech You Didn't Hear From Obama

G.L. Hoffman's briefer and blunter version.

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GL Hoffman
Some of you may have heard President Obama's school speech. Others passed. That's OK. It's a free country. But since many of us have very short attention spans, I would like to give you my own school speech--a briefer and blunter version.

As you grow up, remember these things:

1. Politeness means a lot. Practice it now.

2. When the teacher says "listen up," do it. 

3. Learn how to respect people and things—learning, success, pets, teachers.

4. The toughest teachers are the ones you will remember later.

5. It is OK to be successful in school. "Cool" only lasts a short time.

6. Being on the sports team is great, but mostly because it keeps you active and away from bad influences. Learn how to win.

7. Pick one thing to be really really good at. And then be the best at it.

8. Read more than any of your friends. Find something other than a magazine—extra points if it was written before 1900.

9. Cultivate friendships—real ones.

10. Remember that delaying gratification is a sign of growing up.

G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneuer and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at or at