Conan O'Brien was on hand at Dartmouth College on Sunday to deliver the commencement address to the graduating class of 2011.
The comedian, who had a seven-month stint as "The Tonight Show" host before leaving NBC and the show, talked openly about what he learned from the experience and failure.
"There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized," said O'Brien said. "Whether you fear it or not, true disappointment will come but with disappointment comes clarity, conviction and true originality."
O'Brien's stint as "The Tonight Show" host hit a speed bump in 2010 when Leno helmed a new talk program that aired earlier. Following lackluster ratings and local affiliate disagreements, NBC had proposed that both programs be moved to later, pushing "The Tonight Show" back a half hour from 11:30 p.m. to midnight.
O'Brien declined NBC's proposal and left the network in March 2010. The time slots of the shows remained unchanged and Leno, who hosted "The Tonight Show" between 1992 and 2009, regained the position in March.
The comedian, who is a graduate of Harvard University, soon had a new talk show, "Conan," which began airing in November 2010.
"My first job as commencement speaker is to illustrate that life is not fair. For example, you worked tirelessly for four years to earn the diploma you will be receiving this weekend," O'Brien joked to the young audience. "And Dartmouth is giving me the same degree for interviewing the fourth lead in 'Twilight.' Deal with it."
O'Brien, who stood on the stage beside President George H.W. Bush, also joked, "I must point out that behind me sits a highly admired president of the United States and decorated war hero, while I, a cable television talk show host, has been chosen to stand here and impart wisdom.
He added, "I pray I never witness a more damning example of what is wrong with America today."
Check out the video of O'Brien's commencement address below.