In 2005, Steve Jobs gave the commencement address to the Stanford graduating class of approximately 5,000 students.

“I never graduated college,” he began, and then held his audience’s attention as he told three stories.

The first story was about “connecting the dots”.  Jobs told them that even though he dropped out, he continued to attend classes anyway—the ones he liked.  One of these classes was calligraphy.  Years later, when he and Steve Wozniak created the Mac, one of its main selling points (eventually copied for Windows) was that it had multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts.

“If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class,” Jobs informed the graduates, “And personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.”

The second story was about getting fired from his own company, Apple, at age 30.  This event led to the creation of NeXt, and Pixar, and to Jobs meeting his wife.  Pixar created the first fully computer-animated film, Toy Story, and became the largest computer animation company in the world.

“I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple,” Jobs told his audience.  “It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.”

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick,” he attested.  “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.”

The last story was about his first brush with death, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and told to go home and get his affairs in order.  The stunned graduates listened intently as he told them:

“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 importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

Jobs did not succumb to his cancer until 7 years later, in 2011, living by that very advice until the end.

He concluded his commencement address by quoting from the back cover of a popular publication from his youth, The Whole Earth Catalog:


Stay hungry, stay foolish, and keep REACHING…