Steve Jobs, one of the most interesting, inspirational and revolutionary leaders of our time has died.
Steve Job’s 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University has been called one of the best commencement speeches ever given.
Steve Jobs dropped out of college and followed his own path.
Imagine the courage it took to do this speech at one of the most revered university’s in the world.
In his speech he talked about a few key things in his life that made him the man he was.
Steve was given up for adoption by his biological mother who was at that time in graduate school.
His biological mother insisted that his adoptive parents were college graduates.
But, when he was born, the couple she had picked, decided they wanted a girl.
The adoption agency called his parents and told them he was available and they were thrilled. However, his biological mother wouldn’t sign the final papers because his mother had not gone to college, and his father had not finished high school. It wasn’t until they promised that they would send him to any college he wanted when he grew up, that she signed the adoption papers.
Steve went to college and dropped out in 6 months.
His parents had saved all of their money to allow him to go to any school he wanted.
After 6 months of attending Reed University, Steve felt that it wasn’t worth it. He didn’t want to spend all of his parents hard earned money going to classes he wasn’t interested in. So he dropped out, but continued to go to a few classes that DID interest him.
One of those classes was a calligraphy class. Calligraphy? Why would he mention that?
Because in 10 years, he was designing the Macintosh computer, and his knowledge and love of typefaces that he attained from that class inspired him to put that into the operating system of the first Macintosh (and, as he said, since Windows copied the Mac, it ended up on every personal computer in the world!)
He said that you must trust that everything you do will be connected in the future.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward, but you can looking back. If you do what you love, EVEN if it’s off the beaten path, it will positively affect you as you go through life.
Steve talked about love and loss.
He was lucky in that he loved what he did from a very early age. He and Woz started Apple in his parent’s garage.
Ten years later (at the ripe old age of 30), they had grown Apple to a 2 billion dollar company with over 4,000 employees.
Apple had just released the Macintosh computer a year earlier and he was fired.
Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he started.
He thought he had failed. He thought he had let down all of the entrepreneurs he had inspired over the years.
But after a few months he realized that he still loved technology.
He also realized that the heaviness of success had left him, and he felt the lightness and newness of starting over.
In the next five years, he started NeXt Computer and Pixar.
NeXt was eventually bought from Apple and became the impetus for the current, wildly successful iMacs and the rest of the Macintosh computers.
Pixar’s first movie was Toy Story (heard of that one?) and is now the largest and most successful animation company in the world.
In that period, he also met and fell in love with the woman he married and had an incredible family.
Jobs said that being fired was the best thing that could have ever happened to him! It was the most creative time of his life.
Steve said he was successful because he stuck to what he loved.
He loved what he did and he found someone he loved.
He said that you will never be truly satisifed if you don’t do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
He said, “Keep Looking, Don’t Settle.”
Steve talked about death.
When he was 17, he read the quote, “If you live each day as if it was your last, some day you most certainly will be right.”
Every morning from then on he asked himself, “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to be doing what I’m doing today?”
If the answer was “no” to many days in a row, he knew it was time to make a change.
He said, “All external expectations and all pride and fear of embarrassment or failure, fade away at the time of death, leaving only what’s truly important.”
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked, you have no reason not to follow your heart.”
After living through pancreatic cancer in 2004, he realized that no one wants to die. No once escapes it.
“But”, he said, “death is life’s change agent.
We all gradually become old and will be cleared away.
Our time is limited, so don’t waste it by living someone else’s life. Don’t let other people’s opinions drown out your own.”
He quoted the “Whole Earth Catalog” which was a the “bible” of his generation. It was idealistic and filled with great tools and innovations.
In the final issue of the catalog, were the words “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”
His last words of advice to the graduating class of Stanford, 2005:
“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”