Steve Jobs at Stanford

“Death is very likely the single best invention of life.”
Steve Jobs

We can’t think of a more fitting way at On Being to pay tribute to the passing of Steve Jobs than by sharing the commencement speech he gave at Stanford University in 2005. He shares his thoughts on the value of education, the importance of passion and curiosity, serendipitous encounters with typography, and the lessons of living with cancer.

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

[update] And, here’s the the complete transcript:

“I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you 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 6 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 college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that 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 someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being 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 college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. 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 interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare 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 label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, 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 have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this 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 in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you 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 of 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 a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even 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 had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start 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 five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits 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’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly 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. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was 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 looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the 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 you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with 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 this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

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 and 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 doctors 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 I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a 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 is 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 will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out 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.

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 Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, 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 hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have 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.”

Share Your Reflection



Personally I am so happy that On Being exists, a place where reasonable people can have meaningful and intelligent conversations about faith.  Maybe you, "godbuster", have decided to put the God question at rest, but for billions of people, many of whom are scientists, the possibility of a divine creator will continue to inspire us to think differently about all the mysteries of the universe we can not yet comprehend.  You may be satisfied with a nihilistic view of things, but luckily yours is not the final say.  We cannot know the truth of all things in this life, so I am happy to keep an open mind about the existence of God.  If you don't like the thoughtful, faith-centered conversations of On Being, you can take your arrogant, absolutist views somewhere else.

Very inspirations talk Steve Jobs!  I love how he stuck the fact that he succeeded without college to all the stuffy Stanford professors.  Stay hungry, and stay foolish.

Best spech without university......diploma

"Steve Jobs Dies, Apple Products Stop Working"

of Apple products, including iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Mac computers,
suddenly stopped working on Wednesday when Apple founder Steve Jobs died
of pancreatic cancer late that night. Apple issued a statement saying
that they are working 'round the clock to devise and implement a
solution, though they said it is proving difficult to devise and
implement anything very successfully without their genius leader.

Good Day Folks My name is Steven Whiteside,
      Just as Steve Jobs, Randy Pausch, and Al Davis, I too have a dream to find what is it that drives me to be accomplished every day at what seems to be a defeating task, teaching others. The only difference is that I am not dyeing. Though I am forced to live every day a death because our culture has forges death in us to give life to so many different cultural events, and personal respects. Here is a perfect example today is Columbus Day our Public Courts our closed our schools are not. You see how interests in the United State and it holiday divide’s our branches of government. These same campaign divided Steve Jobs Fortune 500 Company, Randy Paush’s Fortune 500 Company, and Al Davises franchise.
      Steve Jobs created the Apple Computer. His invention was ripped away from him by a bunch of bureaucrats. Randy Paush created Market America, Wall Street replacement because it Online feature suited trading and world trading immensely. Though, the world I believe in , our United States, is not ready for Randy Paush and his invention.  Then Al Davis the all-time Raider, the black and white  cookie,  a two time World Champion, two Super Bowl Victories you all do know they took his famous role away as a Super Bowl Champion. The NFL accused Al Davis of insider gabling and stripped him of his Victory. He filed suet and the NFL gave him his Super Bowl Title. Being accomplished was not enough for any one of these guy’s. They had to win big.
      All three are victims to greed  that this United States, Brock Obama Campaign, and all of his ant semantics continue to praise as leadership qualities today. These were great leaders. Steve Jobs "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish." Randy Paush "Live Life To The Fullest", Al Davis "All You Got To Do Is Win Baby."   These are our countries fortune, our counties precious  “Rockefellers”. If  I were to be commissioned to paint a portrait of any one of these men it would not be a shameful career task, even to paint their portrait  on the exterior wall of the “Bank of the United States” or the “World Trade Center”. There are no better leaders, there are no better heroes, there are no better investment because they counted on themself, they did not put their trust in anyone to be left unfulfilled.
       My father was a hero he spent 17 years in the South Pacific fighting a foreign war, "Vietnam". This country, the United States”, as well "gave me the finger", and ripped me off. I never received a day of respect, a flag , compensation, education, not anything for my father 17 years military service to "Vietnam". I just happened to read his obituary the day it was published in our local paper. Though I make my father a respected man every day I get out of bed and face this not so equal life in the United States that many foreigners contend as there last stand. I am for my  father, his effort, his death,  what he seen in "Vietnam", and I am for his Military Service to our Nation the United States even though our Nation is responsible for my father’s death. The United State Of American and it citizens took my father life I s never to be together because many immigrants need to discover something they already know so well, sovereignty. As sovereignty could not be spared in1979, before, and now, today we cannot be spared the loss of Steve Jobs.  Though many immigrant each day flow into our country are being honored with this country’s greatest enrichments and a life fulfilled by freedom we stole away Steve Jobs honorable respect. And now once again with our heads in our hands as Americans we beg for his forgiveness.
      I put myself through grade school, high school, and now college.  I do not have not one individual or a Nation holding holding a candle for me.  My life is structured and progressed by my own action, my own finances, and my own blood. I too have had everything I ever created or earned taken from me. Though, I am in good health today. I am grateful to be a United State Citizen. It is hard to find any one representing the United State and standing proud of doing so as Steve Jobs. I am grateful for Steve Jobs and his creation the Apple Computer, and his life.  I am a writer and not a teacher. I to learned to “connect the dots”.
      Steve Jobs, Randy Pausch, and Al Davis were all proud of honoring the United States and make life what they can make of it in the United States. They two knew just how to be American. They knew to value their trust. They knew they should not ever just allow anyone to have a hay day with their trust. They could not even place their trust in our President, now and then. Because of Steve Jobs effort with the Apple Computer many people  puts dinner  on a tables they own, and they enjoy dinner every night with their families. Just look at Steve Jobs fortune today he surely cannot defend another take over, a front as a thieves lye, he's dead, and his best friend owns it all, in away his best friend is taking credit for putting dinner on his family table, even purchasing his families table.
      God blessed Steve Jobs, God Blessed our Nation, and God Blessed Randy Paush and Al Davis, just as well because they all new how to hate people, they knew how to hate thieves, they knew how to hate intruders and they did this to preserve their health. Long live our God in heaven and long live his angels Steve Jobs, Randy Paush, and Al Davis who teach our God how to hate wholesomely..
Steven Whiteside