Remembering Steve Jobs: One of his great Speeches

This artful speech, I reproduce here for Steve, who passed away at 56 in California. A courageous man. An example of a person ,who followed his heart and revolutionized the world of computers. May Steve take instant rebirth to show the world a similar feat?

Steve Jobs inaugural speech at Stanford University class of 2005 graduation.

“Sound of clap with lots of encouraging cries, as Steve move towards the podium”

Thank you! I am honored to be with you today on the commencement of one of the finest university in the world.


Photo courtesy:
Truth be told!, I never graduated from a college and this is the closest that I have got to college graduation.
“Steve grins and people laughing”

Today I want to tell three stories from my life; that’s it, no big deal just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots. I dropped out of Reed College after the first six months, but then stayed around as a drop in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So, why did I drop out? It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young unwed graduate student and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by a college graduate so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife; except that I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents who are on a waiting list got a call in the middle of the night asking “we’ve got an unexpected baby boy do you want it” they said “off course”.

My biological mother found out later that my mother never graduated from college and my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would go to college. This was the start of my life.

And 17 years later, I did go to college that I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford and all of my working class parent’s savings were spent on my college tuition. After six months I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how the college was going to help me figure out and here I was spending all the money my parents have spent their entire life, so I decide to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay. It was pretty scary of a time but looking back it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
“People laughing”

The minute I dropped out, I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting. It wasn’t all romantic! I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in the friends rooms. I returned coke bottles for the five cent deposits to buy food and I would walk the 7 miles across the town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hari Krishna temple “I loved it” and much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

Let me give you one example, Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every level on every door was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I dropped out I didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take the calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif tight faces about varying the amount of space between the different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.

It was beautiful, historical and artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture. And I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life but ten years later when we were designing the first Macintosh computer it all came back to me and we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college the Mac would’ve never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts and since Windows just copied the Mac it’s likely that no personal computer would have that.
“People yelling” Clapping sounds in the background.

If I have never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on that calligraphy class and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college but it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later. Again you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect your future. You have to trust in something; your gut, destiny, life, karma or whatever because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart. Even when it leads you off the well worn path and that will make all the difference.

“Silence ensues”

My second story is about love and loss. I was lucky! I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz I started in my parent’s garage when I was 20. We worked hard and in ten years Apple has grown from just the two of us in the garage into a 2 billion dollar company with over 4000 employees. We just released our finest creation the Macintosh a year earlier and I just turned 30.

And then I got fired! How can you get fired from a company that you’ve started. Well! As Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me and for the first year or so things went well but then our visions for the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our board of directors sided with him, so at 30 I was out and very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone and it was devastating. I really didn’t know what to do for few months. I felt that I left previous generation of entrepreneurs down that I dropped the baton that was passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyes and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure and even I thought about running away from the valley.

But something slowly began to dawn on me. I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple did not change that one bit .I’ve been rejected but I was still in love. So, I decided to start all over. I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. Less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next 5 years I started a company named NeXT and another company named Pixar and fell in love with an amazing woman who’d become my wife. Pixar went on to create one of the worlds’ first computer animated feature film called the “Toy story” and is now the most successful animation studio in the world.

“Sound of clap”

In a remarkable turn of events Apple bought NeXT and I returned to Apple and the technology we developed at the Next is at the heart of Apples current renaissance and Laurene and I have a wonderful family.

I’m pretty sure none of these would have happened had I not been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life is gonna’ hit you in the head with a brick, don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You got to find what you love and that is as true for work as it is for our lovers.

Your work is gonna fill a large part of your life and the only way to be fully satisfied is to do what you believe is great work and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart you’ll know when you find it and like any other great relationships it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking don’t settle.

“Steve leans to drink some water, audience claps”

My third story is about death. When I was 17 I read a quote that read something like “if you live each day as if it were your last. Someday you’ll most certainly be right”. It made an impression on me and since then for the past 33 years I have looed in the mirror every morning and ask myself, if the day were the last day of my life, what I want to do. What I am about to do today. And whenever the answer have been no, for too many days in a row. I know I need to change something.

Remembering that all will be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered helped me make big choices in life because  almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure. These things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking that you’ve something to lose. You are already naked there no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with a cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me it was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable and that I should expect to live no longer than 3 to 6 months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctors’ code for “prepare to die”. It means to try and tell your kids everything you thought you have the next ten years to tell in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it’ll be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your good byes!.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat through my stomach into my intestines. Put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor.
I was sedated but my wife who was there told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctor started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and thankfully I am fine now.

“Amid cries and claps Steve clears his throat”

This was the closest I have been to facing death and I hope it’s the closest I can get for few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty that when death was useful but purely intellectual concept. No one wants to die, even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there and yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you but someday not too long from now you’ll gradually become the old and become cleared away.

Sorry! To be so dramatic but it’s quite true. Your time is limited so don’t waste it leading someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the result of other peoples thinking. Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out on your own inner voice and most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary!

“Takes another sip of water. Audience claps”

When I was young there was an amazing publication called the whole earth catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stuart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 60’s before personal computers and desktop publishing. So it was all made with type writers, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google on paperback from, 35 years before Google came along.

It was idealistic overflowing with neat tools and great notions. Stuart and his team put several issues of the whole earth catalog and then when it did run its course they put out a final issue. It was the mid 1970’s and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitch-hiking on if you are so adventurous yourself. Beneath it were the words “stay hungry and stay foolish” it was their farewell message as they signed off. “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. And I’ve always wished that for myself and now as you graduate to begin anew. I wish that for you “stay hungry, stay foolish”.
Thank you all very much!

Everyone rising as Steve withdraw off the podium. Huge round of applause follows.


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