Peter Thiel: Getting turned down for a Supreme Court clerkship changed my life

The legendary PayPal founder and investor gave a commencement speech at Hamilton College on Sunday, urging graduating students to think hard about their future before ending up on a career track they dislike. He illustrated that by describing his own straight and narrow path in his youth, going to law school, and then applying for a highly coveted clerkship to the High Court, which he was turned down for:

Looking back at my ambition to become a lawyer, it looks less like a plan for the future and more like an alibi for the present. It was a way to explain to anyone who would ask — to my parents, to my peers, and most of all to myself — that there was no need to worry. I was perfectly on track. But it turned out in retrospect that my biggest problem was taking the track without thinking really hard about where it was going.

A few years later, he helped start PayPal.