In 2005, Steve Jobs—CEO of Apple and of Pixar Animation—gave the commencement address to the Stanford graduating class of approximately 5,000 students.
“I never graduated college,” he began, and then he told three stories.
The first story was about “connecting the dots”. Jobs told how he dropped out of college, but 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 brush with death, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told to go home and get his affairs in order. As it turned out, a biopsy revealed that he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer that was operable, and he is still alive. To his stunned audience, Jobs announced:
“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 concluded his address by quoting from the back cover of a popular publication from his youth, The Whole Earth Catalog:
“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
I’ve posted these words on my office wall and I’m committed to helping my clients do just that. If you want a push to create the business and life you deserve, contact me now. And always, keep REACHING…