Get Out of the Ordinary

“You don’t have to be fearless just don’t let fear stop you.” – Charlie Day, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

When most people think about Charlie Day, they don’t picture him at the podium for a commencement speech or in’s “most inspiring leaders” category. But this year, he was invited to be the keynote at Merrimack College, where he is also an alum.  CharlieDayblogphot

For those of you that don’t know, Charlie Day is from the hit series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which is now going into its 10th season). He plays Charlie Kelly, the character that lives in a roach-infested apartment with Danny DeVito (Frank Reynolds), pretends to eat cat food and has a whole Facebook page dedicated to just his zany quotes from the television series. What we don’t see, is that Charlie Day has an amazing story to tell about his adventure, bravery and dedication. He is not your typical journey because after graduating college, he set out to take risks and fail hard to define his success in life by doing what makes him great.

Here are his most important insights on life that he shared with 2014 graduating class at Merrimack:

1. Take the risky road; it will be more fulfilling in the long run.
2. Don’t make a plan B. It just means you are not fully committed to or invested in plan A.
3. Fail at something you will truly learn from. When you take the path of struggle and risks and passion, you will find more reward in your failures.

“I wanted to fail in the way and place where I would be proud to fail, doing what I wanted to do and let me tell you … I did fail. Time and time again. I was too short for this or too strange for that. I even had one casting director for a movie say “he’ll never work in comedy.” I was taking my punches but I was in the fight.” – Charlie Day

4. Create your own opportunities. You will be waiting forever if you think opportunity will come knocking at your door.

“We had a sense that maybe we could make a better show than what was being offered to us at the time. We borrowed cameras asked friends to hold microphones and shot this show that we would eventually call ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.’” – Charlie Day

5. Take a bet on yourself.
6. If you take that bet, believe and be confident in yourself and the decisions you’ve made.

“’Life on a Stick’ went one season and thirteen episodes. We are currently filming our tenth season of “Sunny.” We’ve written and produced one hundred fourteen episodes and are signed on for another two seasons, making “Sunny” one of the longest running comedies of all time.” – Charlie Day
Note: “Life on a Stick” was a huge network opportunity presented to Charlie Day that would have paid extremely well.

7. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. Commit to the things that scare you; it means its a challenge.
8. People will pass judgment no matter what you do. Hang on to the ones that support you in your good and bad decisions.

“You cannot let a fear of failure or a fear of comparison or a fear of judgment stop you from doing the things that will make you great. You cannot succeed without the risk of failure. You cannot have a voice without the risk of criticism. You cannot love without the risk of loss. You must take these risks.” – Charlie Day

If you get the chance, read the full commencement speech, or watch the video below. It’s down-to-earth, perceptive and enlightening.

by Katie Dzugan
University Innovation Fellows, Epicenter