Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish - An Inspirational Story by Steve Jobs By Ignite Summit

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
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
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
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, it's 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
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
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
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
This was the closest I've been to facing
death, and I hope it's 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.
Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

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