Advice is a wet noodle flung against a wall; sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn’t. As I get older, I’m often surprised by what sticks and what slides down the linoleum into oblivion.
Conan O’Brien’s final monologue for “The Tonight Show” is one al dente noodle that’s stuck with me. His remarks came after a month-long press tornado in which his employer publicly debated his fate -- he might have been bitter, wry, caustic. Instead, he ended the show on a note of appreciation and sincerity.
Six years later, the final lines of that monologue still stick.
“I’m asking this particularly of young people who watch. Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality. It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you. It’s just true.”
It’s great advice: simple and difficult to misconstrue. No matter what work you’re in -- entertainment, tech, whatever -- work hard and be kind. And have faith that, in the long term, it will all work out.
It’s a little sentimental, but I like it. As Coco implores us, “do not be cynical.”