Video Of The Week: Yancey Strickler's Commencement Speech At McNally Smith

I came across this short (<15min) video this morning as I was wandering around YouTube. It’s a commencement speech that Kickstarter’s CEO Yancey Strickler gave at the McNally Smith College Of Music in St Paul Minnesota.

I really like the way Yancey frames the opportunities and challenges facing young artists as they head out into their adult lives and careers. It’s optimistic and hopeful. You can’t beat that.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    The United States of Anxiety.The Apple Healthbook thing is going to highlight the impact on people of differing socio-economic models around the world. Health big data could radicalise politics globally.

  2. pointsnfigures

    entrepreneurial journeys always fascinate me. this is a great speech.

  3. William Mougayar

    “Geography and distribution are no longer a barrier.” True & we need to further push on these two barriers.”Let others see who you are.” +10But I’m not sure I totally agree that it takes a lifetime to know yourself, to understand yourself, but I can see how it can be a motivational message if you’re graduating.

    1. awaldstein

      Geography and distribution are no longer barriers–if you are selling bits or content.And true the flatness of the world is helpful even for the hyperlocal.But I’m also drawn to innovations that have people in the supply and delivery chain. They are the ones that change not just who we are but how we eat, live, learn and interact at the street level.We need both.

      1. William Mougayar

        yup…i’d like to see more innovations with simpler supply chains that are re-configured around the new intermediaries and powered by Internet-enabled services. Anything that doesn’t involve UPS or FedEx for the last mile of delivery would be great.

        1. awaldstein

          I thought about this when you linked me the piece about the Idaho based local marketplace formed by two women entrepreneurs.The hole potentially is in the funding ecosystem.The majority of these are neither VC fundable or even seed fundable as they are simply not tech multiple businesses.There is VC funding for example in the natural food chain, large scale markets to auction non gmo bulk supplies to the product world. Great stuff.But where do the tens of thousands of just great businesses get the seed?This goes back to the discussion awhile back that we need a community sourced infrastructure to fund things that the local communities need. There is an economic model issue but no value one for certain.

        2. pointsnfigures

          1. William Mougayar

            Yes! Or Shyp.

          2. awaldstein

            Great idea.Not so great web site.They are shooting themselves in the foot by not providing any info on the service without a sales contact.Quickly goes from great idea to whatever in an instant.

  4. LE

    “If you are open to criticism you will get better”.Agree and put another way “if you are not open to criticism you will not iterate and you will never move forward”. God knows if there is one pattern that I have seen repeated over and over in successful people is their ability to listen to what others have to say (positive and negative) and at least consider it and be thankful that someone, at the risk of offending, has gone out on a limb and said what they truly think. Instead of the easy route of what someone want’s to hear.

  5. LE

    Yancey really did a good job with this. He reminds me (visually) of a young Elliot Gould. He’s a great communicator. Only thing I would have said (as an area for improvement) would be to weave some humor into the speech.The camera work was really top end as well. I love the guy in the upper left on one shot and shifting to the “old dudes with frock” in the main shot. Nice to see some thought went into shooting the video instead of the standard fixed on a tripod poorly lit and poor audio fare. Framed very well.

  6. LE

    and challenges facing young artists as they head out into their adult lives and careers.I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t say that one of the ways to not have to deal with the “challenges facing young artists” would be to not choose art or music as a career.God knows I would love to just make movies as well as many other potential artistic endeavors. But I realized that even though I made money doing some of these things in college it wasn’t (given the competition and my actual skill level as well as the need for luck) a realistic way to earn a living.When I was a kid I remember that my Dad took me out for an intro flying lesson. When I said I wanted to learn to fly he said that if I wanted to have an airplane and learn to fly I should concentrate on making money (say become an attorney or doctor) and then I would be able to afford to have a plane and fly when I wanted. Not to become a pilot (which at the time actually paid way better than it does now).There is more than one way to enjoy your passion without sacrificing the need to earn a living.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      I think creatives can have their cake and eat it too if they’re willing to be flexible. Many subsist on the subsidy model (work a “day job” like bartender or waiter to pay the bills for the creative work) but in marketing and communications for businesses and political campaigns there is plenty of demand for people who can shoot and edit videos or design graphics. I hire creatives all the time in the political work I do and they’re not cheap (at least if they have a good track record).



      1. alexade

        bota pòse secreto

  7. sigmaalgebra

    Eventually there will be an accurate estimate of theKickstarter expected ROI, and, if that estimate isreally low, then some of the optimism in that speechwill be threatened.Dreams come with poor track records, and chasing adream is risky business. Since a failed dream caneasily become a nightmare, we need some solid meansof picking directions. E.g., the Wright brothersmay have started with a dream, but before they wentto Kitty Hawk successfully, they were surprisinglygood at actual aeronautical engineering. So, theyhad a surprisingly good wind tunnel (although theymissed Reynolds number) and were able to calculatelift, drag, and needed engine horsepower. They hadseen the challenge of good three axis control andhad worked out a good enough solution. Good stuff.Meanwhile Langley fell into the Potomac River.His definition of art is a start but missed the mainpoint, that is, what art does for the customer andwhy. So I prefer the definition “The communication,interpretation of human experience, emotion”. Then,for that goal, what he said is relevant — need todraw from own life (e.g., knowing oneself) andknowing others and their lives. A standard remarkaround the practice rooms in a music school is thattechnical skills with an instrument are not enoughand that an artist needs to know about life.He is correct about the Internet: It is an historicopportunity, especially for art in the form ofmusic, still images, video. And for each of these,the role of computing is playing is increasingsignificantly quickly. E.g., for music, computingcan format and print the score and also, if only viaMIDI, give a performance. And no doubt higherquality performances are available than MIDI.While of course, commonly good composers have donenearly all of the work of composing just betweentheir ears, even if he has become deaf, e.g.,Beethoven, the aids from a computer stand to bequite helpful. E.g., copying scores was longdrudgery, and being able to hear a performancewithout hiring an expensive orchestra should be ableto help raise interest in a new composition.A good artist might be able to do some good workwith a grown up version of, say, Microsoft Paint.Hollywood has long been exploiting computergenerated images (CGI) for special effects, theability of CGI to give realistic images of peoplehas made progress.For sculpture, hmm, let’s see: Right, what mightMichelangelo or Rodin have done with 3-D printer?And can transmit, i.e., “distribute”, all such art,including the data to drive a 3-D printer, over theInternet!Ah, so much content on the Internet! Now, how tofind what want in art honoring not just keywords/phrases but ‘artistic taste’ and ‘artistic meaning’?Hmm …. How to do that? Uh, I mean, how to do thataccurately?Recommendations of ‘friends’ from a ‘social graph’?Sorry, I’m not impressed. Keywords/phrases? Liketrying to shoot an elephant 1000 yards away in thedark with rain with a BB gun. Hmm …. How theheck to do that, say, improving on wandering onYouTube? I mean, what is the average number ofvideo uploads YouTube gets per day?

  8. $94070303

    The greatest greatest greatest victory that comes from what we do is: to figure out who we really are. And yeahr Yancey has found a way to discover his own being through ‘Kickstarter’ as I did through ‘IWISH’ & ‘LALIAFLIA’. And yeahr he is right it is an ever lasting journey. Congratulations guys for being open minded/ hearted.

  9. AmitK

    Nice Saturday post, uplifting.I like his idea of the ‘little bean’ that is your authentic self getting gradually covered in callouses from life. And that finding and re-finding that kernel of who you are is important. I think that’s true in general, and has much wider applicability than solely to artists.

  10. Jim Peterson

    Fred this is a masterpiece. Passing it on to my wife who is a high school counselor. Love:-What ultimately distinguishes you is your taste, your perspective -artists have appealed to their peers for sponsorship with a promise of what will be produced from the beginning-the world works in unpredictable ways if you are open to itMost people, and particularly young people, need to hear this