Kara Swisher says it well on the Wall Street Journal blog, All Things Digital, with the headline, "Bill Gates finally gets to say he graduated from Harvard, Booyah!" (image source here).
In addition to getting his honorary degree, Bill also delivered a commencement address to a crowd of 1,500 at an invitation only attendees. As another WSJ story noted, he spent a fair bit of time and effort getting ready for his address.
There's a great anecdote in that story about how Bill's address was inspired partly by George Marshall's commencement address at the same venue, sixty years ago in 1947 (Marshall of the Marshall Plan).
And he did well, as you can judge from this transcript of the address.
Full videos of the speech are also available via links on Kara's post.
As I mentioned in a post last year, one of the best commencement speeches given by a technology leader in my view, was this one by Steve Jobs to a Stanford graduating class a couple of years ago (here's the video of the address, via YouTube).
Steve very much encourages one's focus on things one loves, while Bill inspires to focus on things that seem way too complex at first glance.
Both coincidentally, show the merit SOMETIMES of dropping out of things you're supposed to do. In Bill's case, it was out of Harvard entirely to start MicroSoft (as it was spelled early on).
In Steve's case, it was dropping out of Reed College, and then "dropping in" to attend some calligraphy classes. As I highlighted in last year's post, that later proved invaluable in making Apple Apple, and later the Mac. And then the iPod, and now the iPhone, and so on.
Reading the transcripts, it's clear that each address is delivered from the heart.
They're great book ends as far as commencement addresses go, and even more fun to read after viewing their historic interview together by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg at the D Conference a couple of weeks ago.
And as for George Marshall's speech I will quote a spoiler. These words in particular for me are timeless:
"It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace.
Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.
Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist."
Strips the political rhetoric of any stripe right away, don't you think?