Business can be hard. Heck, life can be hard.
We’re all on a journey, and we’ve all been down in the dumps before, wondering if what we’re doing is really worth it.
Wondering if what we’re doing is really making an impact.
But, it’s important that we’re always moving forward. This is a lesson that I learned early in life.
I remember I was around 4 years old, and I was learning to ride my bike with my uncle and my father.
Of course, I fell off multiple times while I was learning to cycle, and I remember the time I cut my knee pretty badly.
At that point, I really just wanted to quit and go home. But, my family told me: “you can’t quit now, you’re almost there. Just try it once more!”
You’ve probably heard that before too, right?
So, I got back on that bike. I didn’t want to, but you just need to power through and face your challenges head-on.
Sure enough, that was the first time that I rode that bike without any help.
After that, I was so glad I kept moving forward and that I never gave up.
Now, that probably wasn’t the motivational speech that you expected when you clicked on this article, but it’s evidence that we can do so much more than we think we’re capable of when we’re spurred on by others.
And that’s exactly why we’ve created this article – we’ve listed all of our favorite motivational speeches here because we already know how much more you can achieve with a little bit of extra motivation.
So, let’s jump into it!
13 Best Motivational Speeches for Entrepreneurs
Will Smith – Pursuit of Happiness
Considered one of the best motivational speeches, this famous motivational speech from the 2006 film, Pursuit of Happyness, features Will Smith and his son playing basketball.
At the start of the clip, you’ll see Smith’s son (his actual son, Jaden Smith) playing around with a basketball, and he shouts out, “I’m going pro!”
After hearing this, Smith decides to try and level his son’s expectations, mentioning that he himself never really excelled at basketball, so his son shouldn’t expect to either.
His son is visibly disappointed by this comment, and Smith notices this.
Smith then proclaims: “don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something, not even me.”
“You got a dream, you gotta protect it. You want something, go get it. Period.”
This motivational speech is a special one. Even though both Will and Jaden Smith are acting, they’re still father and son, and you can see how this scene reflects their own family dynamic.
It’s a short motivational speech, but it’s one of the best motivational speeches of all time, in our opinion.
Al Pacino – Any Given Sunday
Al Pacino’s speech from the American Football drama, Any Given Sunday, is next up on our list.
This famous motivational speech really gets your blood flowing – perfect for watching before you tackle a difficult day.
The motivational speech revolves around the idea of inches being so important in American Football, even if we have the tendency to overlook them.
He talks about the different ways that his team can gain advantages over their opponents, even if it’s only an inch at a time.
He proclaims: “when we add up all those […] inches, that’s what makes the difference between winning and losing”.
This point is applicable throughout life, too – it’s the people who go the extra mile who tend to find success more often than not.
And sometimes, you won’t notice it at first, but like Pacino mentions, it’s the sum of all the small parts which lead you to victory.
Motivational speeches like this one pump you up when you need it most.
Steve Jobs – 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech
Steve Jobs, one of the key figures behind tech giant Apple’s success, is next up on our list of the best motivational speeches of all time.
In his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, the former Apple CEO dives deep into his own journey as an entrepreneur, and he speaks openly about the issues that he’s faced along the way and how he overcame them.
During this classic motivational speech, Jobs talks about how he was actually a college dropout and that this was one of the most important times of his life.
He mentioned that he dropped out of college to take classes that he was truly interested in, rather than studying topics he wasn’t deeply passionate about.
One of those classes that he took up after dropping out was calligraphy. He was so compelled by the high standard of handwriting.
To many, this might seem like a strange choice, but he connects the experience that he gained from that class to the font choices that he installed on Apple computers.
If Jobs had never taken that calligraphy class, he wouldn’t have cared so much about a seemingly small detail, like fonts, but Apple was the first company to add different typefaces to their operating systems.
He goes on to say: “You can’t connect the dots if you’re looking forward, you can only do it looking backward. So, you need to keep moving forward and hope that the dots align somehow.”
The key message from this famous motivational speech is that we’re always learning. We’re always growing and finding out new information. It’s all about what we choose to do with that information that really defines us.
As Jobs said: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Matthew McConaughey – University of Houston Speech
Next up on our list of motivational speeches is Matthew McConaughey, with his commencement speech at the University of Houston.
The Oscar-winning actor delivers some very pertinent points during his speech, but the one that stuck out for me was how he spoke of joy being a “constant approach”.
McConaughey said: “Joy is always in process, it’s always under construction.”
He spoke of how he was previously judging his success on metrics that he thought were important to him, like the number of academy awards he won, or the amount of money his films grossed.
But, it was only when he decided to focus on the whole process of creating a film, and enjoying every aspect of it, that he found true success in those metrics.
It turned out that, when he took everything one step at a time, and truly enjoyed his craft, he found that things just fell into place.
“Define success for yourself.”
Find what you want to achieve, and enjoy the entire journey – not just the high points, but the lows too.
Matthew McConaughey ended up delivering one of the best motivational speeches from the past few years.
Sheryl Sandberg – Harvard Business School Motivational Speech
Sheryl Sandberg, the American entrepreneur, tech executive, author, and current COO of Facebook, is the next addition to our list of the best motivational speeches with her talk at the Harvard Business School in 2012.
Besides talking about her own experiences as an entrepreneur, and her work at Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg, Sandberg mentions a very pertinent idea. One that we can all do well to remember.
“Motivation comes from working on things that we care about.”
This is certainly true for entrepreneurship – those who are running businesses and working to tackle problems that engage them are more likely to find success.
And, according to Sandberg, it’s so important that we continue to work because that’s the most important thing.
All in all, this is one of the best motivational speeches for students that we’ve seen.
Sylvester Stallone – Balboa Speech
Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, is a famed character best known for his courage, hard work, and determination.
In Rocky Balboa, the sixth film in the Rocky franchise, Stallone delivers one of the hardest-hitting motivational speeches of all time.
Stallone starts off the motivational speech by saying: “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.”
He goes on to talk about the value of hard work and commitment and emphasizes that “it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
As an entrepreneur, this motivational speech really hits home. There will be struggles on your journey to success, but as Stallone says, it’s all about “how much you can take and keep moving forward, that’s how winning is done.”
Remember this when your back is up against the wall – winners never give up!
This is one of the most iconic motivational speeches. You’ll often find it in motivational speech mashup videos on YouTube or even on Spotify.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Famous Motivational Speech
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian-American actor, entrepreneur, politician, and former My Olympia, is next up on our list of the most famous motivational speeches for entrepreneurs.
He starts his motivational speech with a simple, powerful message.
“Work your ass off.”
Schwarzenegger then discusses how having a goal was so pivotal for him on his journey to success in a variety of fields.
He also talks about how “only a quarter of people really enjoy what they’re doing in life.”
Schwarzenegger also believes that everybody should be constantly working to get closer to their main goal and properly utilize every hour of their day.
“Imagine if you worked on a business every day for an hour. Imagine how further along you would get.”
This is perhaps the most important message from this motivational speech – it’s down to us to make the most of our limited time on earth. And this message, which everybody can get behind, is why we believe this is one of the best motivational speeches of all time.
Richard St.John – 8 Secrets of Success
Next up on our list, we’ve got an infamous TED talk from Richard St.John – also one of the shortest motivational speeches that we’ve ever seen, but it sure is impactful.
St.John mentions at the start of the video that this talk is a condensed version of 7 years of research (including research from more than five hundred interviews with successful professionals).
One of the most interesting points that St.John mentions is that if you want to be successful at something, you need to “put your nose down in something and get damn good at it.”
But, the most motivational part of St.John’s speech for us was where he talks about passion.
He said: “if you do something you love then the money comes along later.”
This section of the motivational speech is especially relevant for entrepreneurs – if you’re building a brand, then try and be invested in it as much as possible – a commitment to the cause will really help you find success in the long run.
When you’re trying to find success, you need to love what you do!
Eric Thomas – I Can, I Will, I Must
Eric Thomas is a fantastic speaker, and in this classic motivational speech, he empowers us to believe that we can always get through adversity, no matter what the challenge is.
Thomas repeats this line throughout the speech: “I can get through this. I will get through this. I must get through this.”
He also cleverly uses our loved ones as a source of inspiration in this motivational speech.
He asks us to focus on the 3 people we love the most and challenges us to question our own decisions regarding motivation.
“You gotta think about those people every day.”
“You have some days when you think about hitting the snooze button? […] The days you don’t feel like getting up, just think about them.”
Instead of being lazy and complacent, we need to think about our loved ones and question what they’d think if we were procrastinating 24/7.
Honestly, it’s fine doing something for yourself, but knowing that you’ve made your loved ones proud just makes everything feel 10 times better. This is one of the main messages from this motivational speech.
And that’s why this is one of the best motivational speeches of all time. It takes the onus away from working for yourself and instead focuses on putting in the work for people you couldn’t bear to let down.
Elon Musk – USC Commencement Motivational Speech
Elon Musk is an icon of inspiration for countless people worldwide. Known for his out-of-the-box thinking and visionary technology, Musk shows us that anything is possible if we put our minds to it.
In the USC Commencement motivational speech, Elon immediately demonstrates his tendency to break away from the status quo. He tells us he was advised to stick to 3 items that he wanted to mention, but he’s going to share four.
Elon tells his listeners that they need to work proportionally to the accomplishments they want to achieve. “If you want to start a company, you need to work super hard.”
Elon’s speech here is compelling because it’s so authentic. He doesn’t talk about being lucky or following your gut instinct. Musk tells us that great things come from an equally astronomical amount of work.
Musk also acknowledges the power of great people, “all a company is, is a group of people that have gathered together.” Elon says that if you want a great company, you need a great team.
Musk’s third point is to “focus on signal over noise.” In other words, concentrate on developments that make the product better, “don’t just follow the trend.”
The final piece of advice from Elon’s speech? “Take risks.” Jump into new opportunities and pursue different things.
Ed Shereen – Being Weird is a Wonderful Thing
Ed Sheeran might not be the first person you think of when you visualize the world’s greatest thought leaders. Yet, he constantly moves millions of people with his music and his words.
At the 9th Annual American Institute for Stuttering Benefit Gala, Sheeran talked about how Eminem helped him overcome his speech impediment.
Sheeran admits to being a “very, very weird child” with a birthmark on his face, large glasses, and no eardrum on one side of his head. He says that “stuttering was actually the least of my problems when I went to school,” but he found it extremely difficult.
Sheeran notes that not being able to express himself in the right way was his biggest concern with his stutter. However, when his dad bought him an Eminem CD when he was young. Listening to it helped him to learn how to speak fast and accomplish his stutter.
Ed’s insights are a great source of inspiration for entrepreneurs learning how to deal with the stress of public speaking and believing in themselves.
Now, Ed believes that “being weird is a wonderful thing”. He asks us to “embrace yourself, embrace your quirks, and embrace your weirdness.”
Jim Carrey. – Maharishi University Commencement Motivational Speech
Jim Carrey’s commencement speech at the Maharishi University is filled with so much wisdom it’s difficult to decide which to focus on.
Perhaps the most important statement Jim made for entrepreneurs and business leaders was that “fear” will always be a big player in our lives. However, Jim notes, “you get to decide how much.” You can spend your life in fear, or you can follow your heart.
Jim says that countless people choose their path out of fear. They stick to what’s safe and easy because they’re afraid to ask, “what if?” However, Carrey says that the only way to live is to ask the universe for what you need.
Jim Carrey invites his listeners to “risk being seen in all of your glory.” He says that our job isn’t to figure out how we’re going to reach success, but to simply “open the door in your head” and walk through it when the time is right.
Denzel Washington – Fall Forward
“You will fail at something. Accept it.”
In the last entry on our list of the best motivational speeches, Denzel Washington discusses failure.
But, Washington doesn’t shirk away from failure; he embraces it.
He says that “every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”
This is certainly true when it comes to entrepreneurship. You learn so much from everything you do, whether it’s a win or a loss.
But, the most important thing isn’t necessarily winning or losing. It’s about getting out there and giving it everything you’ve got. That’s why this is one of our favorite motivational speeches about life.
“Never be discouraged. Never hold back. And when you fall in life, remember this: fall forward.”
So, that’s our list of the best motivational speeches for entrepreneurs.
We hope you enjoyed those clips. We just want to highlight a couple of key points present across all of these motivational speeches.
- It’s important that you love what you do. Be invested. Be present. And be the best you can be.
- Failure isn’t a bad thing. If you learn from it and continue to move forward, it can lead to great things.
- You need to want it. Entrepreneurship, along with many things in life, can be tough. You want it bad? Prove it.
Okay, that’s all from me today. Did I miss any motivational speeches off from this list? Let me know in the comments section – I read them all!