Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer Inc., told Stanford graduates to follow their ambitions in his commencement address on Sunday June 12.
Jobs told students that sometimes they would have to do what they love and trust their instincts to find success. Jobs said the things that change your life will not always be clear at the time.
“You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future,” Jobs said.
Jobs gave his advice by telling three stories of moments and chapters that shaped his life in unexpected ways.
Jobs himself did not graduate college. He attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon for two years, but at that point Jobs felt he was not getting anything out of college, and he felt guilty spending his parents’ life savings on tuition.
After dropping Jobs said his future looked uncertain. However, he still attended various lectures for three months, and in this time he said he was free to follow his curiosity instead of a planned schedule.
“It was pretty scary at the time,” Jobs said, “but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Another chapter in his life Jobs reminisced about was after being fired from his company.
Jobs started Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak, working out of his parents’ garage. The company started with the two of them selling computer parts in a bag to people, who would then have to assemble it themselves.
The company found success with its Macintosh computer, a high end but sophisticated personal computer.
However, after the company went public Jobs ended up losing ownership.
In 1985 Jobs was forced out of the company by John Sculley, who Jobs had hired to help run the company. Jobs said the two of them had diverging views of where the company was headed, and Sculley ended up pushing him out.
“How can you get fired from a company you started?” Jobs said.
Without his company Jobs said he felt lost, but not having that responsibility also allowed him to chase other passions.
“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,” Jobs said.
Jobs found success with the animation company Pixar, which pioneered computer animation in the film industry. Jobs was credited as executive producer in Pixar’s breakout film Toy Story, the first feature-length computer-animated film.
During this time Jobs also met his wife Laurene Powell and started a family.
Apple, on the other hand, had difficulty finding success without Jobs. In 1997 the company let go of then CEO Gil Amelio, and Jobs stepped in as interim CEO.
After coming back to Apple, Jobs restructured the company’s product line and helped it branch out into new and unknown markets. The company has found new success with its IPod, a portable music playing device.
Jobs said that often his moments of failure and uncertainty ended up shaping his life for the better.
Jobs recently had a cancer diagnoses that he said helped put his life in perspective. Doctors told him he had months to live, before further testing showed the cancer was treatable.
Fear of death, jobs said, is a good reminder to make the most of life. Jobs told the graduates to not let the fear of failure get in the way of them taking risks.
“Stay hungry, stay foolish.” Jobs said.