Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday's Speech

Hello! I just spent the last 15 minutes on a youtube link (a speech by Steve Jobs in 2005) which was Facebook forwarded by Dr. Bernard, and wow... it certainly blew me away. So, I'm taking this down as a reminder to self... and also, to share it with you. Thanks, doc!



Transcript found in this blog by Satjayeet Singh from India.

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, its 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 its 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.

35 comments:

day-dreamer said...

I admit I didn't read your whole post coz it was too long. :P

rainbow angeles said...

S'ok, D-D!! U can read it on your Graduation Day ;-)

ehonchan.com said...

i saw that video last year i think. when i was bored. :P

Jemima said...

Some men & women are really born to inspire us.

Happy Friday, Angeles!

L B said...

Don't settle!! Great piece of advice..

Andie Summerkiss said...

That is very inspiring. I never knew that he had such a humble beginning.

Huei said...

nice speech! an example of a man who built his success out of his own hands, unlike those who suck a gold key when they were born! ;)

i especially love this part..
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."

so true, so many meanings, in just one simple sentence!

mistipurple said...

inspiring.
really.
i must try to unstuck myself somewhat.

eastcoastlife said...

I'm going to show it to Jaymes.
Hope he doesn't drop out from school after watching it. :P

Chen said...

Err... I will read this later coz too long liao.. (i've short attention span mah)

*guilty*

Chen said...

Btw, "I no play blogging no more"
means... u will start blogging again hoh? :P

may said...

stay hungry, but always eat well.
stay foolish, but always learn from mistakes.

thank you very much. :)

xxx

JL said...

very inspirational...

but to wake up everyday and think you will die it's a bit hardcore... :P

suituapui said...

I never went to college (uni) either...but too bad I never became even half as successful as that guy!!! Sob! Sob!

And that bit about the doctor, I know that TOO well! Told my missus...if I fall sick or what, just leave me in a corner and wait for the day!!! Don't wanna go to the hospital...and be the guinea pig!!!

Just as an example, when I brought my dying aunt to the hospital (Emergency, mind you!), the doc spent so much time filling in the forms and even asked if she still had her periods!!! She was over 80!!!!! This is just one of many cases when I got so disgusted with doctors!!!

But our Dr Bernard, of course, is not like that! But then, he's so far away!!!!

Ang Gu Gu said...

Successfull man story..Lol..I gonna start a company name Orange soon... =p

Pink Cotton said...

its very nice!
worth reading!

very inspiring and very true...

thanks so much for sharing it with us...hugs

Mr. Goober said...

great stuff angeles.

very sincere story

rainbow angeles said...

Ehon oh ehon... u bored then u watched this, did u get inspired to be less bored after that? :P

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Jemima oh jemima... I hope to inspire ppl too.. heeeee... happy weekend!

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LB oh lb... don't settle? I thot u already settled... down?? With the 38 or was it 69 Concubines? O.o

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Andie oh andie... I was very inspired too after listening to what he said.. :)

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Huei oh huei... yeah! I love all the things he said!

Let's live our own life, okeh! ;-)

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Misti oh misti.. if you have a choice (actually, u always hv a choice), would you end your biz unstuck yourself?

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Ecl oh ecl... I hope Jaymes gets inspired after watching it.. drop out from school ah? Eh, then u fatt tatt lor.. he'll become the next Steve, u know!! ;-)

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Chen oh chen... I know it's very long.. dun read lor.. just listen.. very inspiring wan... ask ahboy to listen too, ok!

Start blogging? :P Ask the naWinngator maa... :P

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May oh may... very quotable quotes you gave!!! I likey!!

thank YOU, maymay! *muacks*

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Suituapui oh suituapui... U ah? Your name not Steve marrr... heehe...

Aiyoh.. how lah your wife gonna leave u in a corner liddat worr... so kesian.. u know, I am actually for the idea of euthanasia... it's not an accepted practice here, is it?

Oh yeah! Our Dr. Bernard is a gem! ;-) Psstt.. he's in SP, near yr dotter maa.. hehehe...

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Ang gu gu oh gu gu... Haha.. OK OK, u start Orange, I'll start to makan oranges too :P

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Pink Cotton oh pinkie... I'm glad u found it worth reading! You are most welcome! *hugz*

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Goober oh goober... glad u found it great stuff ;-) his 3 stories touched me :)

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Trinity said...

Here!! ok I;ll read.. wait ok?

Trinity said...

phew... life can be like that indeed!! Everyone has their own story of life, and his, is extraordinary..

what is your opinion about death Angeles?

zewt said...

i think it's easier to make it big in the past becos there werent that many competitor. i mean... there just arent that many computer company so there were plenty of opportunities...

rainbow angeles said...

Trinity oh trinity... yes, his life is really one in a million :)

Death? When I was a lil' girl, I used to be very afraid of dying.. dunno why.. but now, no more, I think... everyone will die.. so, there's nothing we can do about it... that's why they say that death is like income tax, can't run away from it! :D

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Zewt oh zewt... but not everyone or just anyone can make it big that way like Steve ;-)

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suituapui said...

I know! Dr Bernard very kind, treated my daughter for chicken pox! Oso he was in Penang...and I had shingles, and he came to have a look! So nice the man! Btw, he gave TWO angpows!!! Said Cantonese tradition! So all of u, siapa Cantonese...hands up!!!! Next Chinese New Year must go visit liao!!! Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

oceanskies79 said...

A very inspiring and encouraging speech. Thank you for highlighting. Thanks Dr Bernard for forwarding it to you too.

drumsticks said...

hey Angeles! :) watched this some time ago.. recently tot of putting it up in the blog but forgot. haha coincidently you put it up here already. :)

rainbow angeles said...

Suituapui oh suituapui... haiyoh, chicken pox?? I remember when I had my chick pox.. wah liao, felt like dying! Ppl say the older you get chick pox, the worse it feels!

2 angpows? Wah.. how come I nvr knew about this?? Soli, I not Cantonese, so you dun need to visit my mom haha :P

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Oceanskies79 oh oceanskies... Thank you for the thanks and thank you for reading!! :)

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Drumsticks oh drumsticks... Steve Jobs gave a very inspiring speech.. we all need to be inspired every now and then, don't we? :)

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durai said...

your posts are nice and informative.. i like to spend ample time with your blog..

mudpie said...

me confuse lerrrr .. hOw hOw hOw

kyh said...

wah so inspiring!!! *thankies kiss* :D

Brad said...

I do inspire u to hv more BBs rite? *wink wink blink blink* Look... The twins comin' soon!

Hazel said...

hi, weekend is approaching. happy weekends

_butt said...

I've read and I love it. thanks for sharing such inspirational post :-)

Trinity said...

dear Angeles, how are you these days? I feel you are not as cheerful as always in my blog, I hope you are fine and happy dear...

:-)

Miss all sampativities hehehe... I don't know why but I loose my sampat sense as well these days! hehahaha

cibol said...

how kam no new post wan? I kam here everyday see this post .. :p

zewt said...

true lah... but then again, it is still easier then.... comparatively...