George Stroumboulopoulos Arts Last Lecture Article

March 23, 2012

As promised, here is what I wrote for this week’s edition of The Voice. It was shortened for publication, but here is the full version for you.

Failure is not only a part of life, but also a part of success. That was the message George Stroumboulopoulos left graduating UBC arts students with last Friday night.

Stroumboulopoulos was the special guest at the sold-out UBC Arts Undergraduate Society’s Last Lecture in the 525-seat Old Auditorium on campus.

Typically, the last lecture is a speech given by a keynote speaker to graduates on the precipice of entering the working world. Instead, Stroumboulopoulos reimagined the night as more of a conversation.

“If 10 years from now you’re not doing what you want but you’re alive, you’ve won. And that’s how I approach every day at work,” he told the crowd. Stroumboulopoulos noted that no one is qualified to predict where they or the world will be in five or ten years, and advised not to place so much weight on cliché five and ten year plans.

After being rejected by an arts school, Stroumboulopoulos more or less stumbled into journalism when he saw an ad for Humber College, realizing he could make a career out of being on the radio.

Stroumboulopoulos shared some of his moments of challenge with the audience, including failing high school chemistry and his short-lived stint hosting the ill-fated reality series The One. At the time, the show was considered to be the biggest failure in US network history.

“You have to not care if people like you,” Stroumboulopoulos told the crowd. “You have to like you.”

Engineering graduate Marianne Black, 23, said she was really impressed with the talk. She said she took away the message that, “Failures are okay.”

That sentiment was echoed by Meghan Anderson, 21, a graduating international relations student who said, “It’s not the end of the world. You’re going to have failures.”

Andrew Lavers, who coordinated the event, said the audience response was “really positive. In fact, people said they wish it could have gone on longer.”

Stroumboulopoulos will be bringing his popular late-night television show to Vancouver to film at CBC the first week of April. Tickets to the tapings are already sold out.

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