Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech
By Alec Adams
Today the University of Stanford graduates of 2005 had quite the commencement speech from one of the biggest and most popular company’s in the world, the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs started then Apple Computer Company with help from his partner Steve Wozniak on June 1st 1976. He then got fired from Apple and started two new company’s Pixar and NeXT computers after then going back to Apple. Steve had about a 15 minute speech with three important stories about his life.
“Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.”
The first story that he told was about connecting the dots. His references to connecting the dots were how one should find what they truly want to do with their life. He dropped out of Reed College after only one semester thinking there was no use for him being there. He didn’t find it something that he wanted to continue doing. So he dropped out and became a drop in student, making it possible for him to take classes he wanted take and not the ones required. He then took a calligraphy class which fascinated him but had no real practical use in his life at the time. Fast forward ten years when they were developing the first Macintosh it came to him and the first computer with typography was made. Thinking now if he never dropped in on that class he would have never thought to use calligraphy. And in essence this is what he meant about connecting the dots. You can’t connect the dots by looking forward but only by looking back. You have to trust that the dots will connect; it has worked for him in the past and will work for you, you just have to believe that everything will work out in the long run.
The next story he told was about love and loss, which he started by saying that he got lucky because he found what he loved to do early in life. Steve “woz” Wozniak and him started Apple in is mothers garage at the age of 20 and within 10 years they made Apple a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. Short while later Steve Jobs was fired from Apple at age 30. He was devastated and embarrassed at what happened and even thought as far as to leave the valley. But at that point he felt compelled to continue on what he loved and in the next five years of his life he started up two company’s called Pixar and NeXT while falling in love with the woman he would eventually marry named Lauren. They have a family together and are doing well. During that time away from Apple was the best thing to ever happen to him while allowing him to have one of the most creative times in his life.
“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.”
Eventually Apple would buy NeXT and Steve was back at Apple where the technology from NeXT was being utilized with Apple. Having himself fired from Apple would have never made him go though that crazy time in his life where giving up wasn’t an option and went on about never giving up and never settle until you find what you love.
His final story was about death and how he faces it every day. Steve has an interesting way of looking at death, it’s something that everyone faces day today whether you like it or not. He wakes up every morning and looks in the mirror and asks himself “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” When the answers is “no” to many days in a row he changes it.
About a year ago Steve was diagnosed with cancer and he saw his world coming to an end soon. His doctor gave him three to six months to live which quickly changed his prospective on life, and had to start saying his goodbyes to friends and family. Luckily there was a surgery that could be done to take away the cancer, which he ended up doing and is fine now. That was a life changer for him, knowing that you really don’t have that much time on this earth and you have to make the most of what you have.
“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.”
When he was young there was a catalog that came out called “The Whole Earth Catalog” and was a huge instrument for him as a young adult. In the mid- 1970s they had the final issue and on the back of the last issue was a quote that read “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” and that is what he wishes upon all the students to do, to stay hungry and stay foolish because now as the time student’s start on their own road to their hopes and dreams now is when you need to stay commented to what you want and also to still dare to dream.