It was yesterday at 8:30 pm when I heard the words “Steve Jobs is dead”. I sat in silence for a few moments, realizing that arguably our generation’s greatest business mind had quietly passed away. Whether you love Apple products or not, Steve Jobs was admirable for his passion and business savvy. His reach wasn’t limited to just tech geeks, but had mass appeal because of his charisma and ability to make technology easy to understand.
His famous Stanford Commencement Address truly inspired me and humanized him, revealing a person who wasn’t the arrogant, temperamental CEO I'd read stories about. Everyone loves underdogs and you can’t help but root for Jobs after hearing his story.
He was put up for adoption by his young, unwed mother who was still a college student. She felt he'd benefit from college graduates as parents but unfortunately there weren't any who wanted a child born under those circumstances. He was adopted instead by a couple who hadn't completed college, but promised to put him through school.
Ironically, when Jobs went to college he didn’t see the value in it. He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life and he didn’t want to spend his parents’ savings doing it. He still had a passion for learning, however, so he started dropping in to classes that he found interesting, sleeping on the floors of his friends’ rooms, and paying for food by returning empty pop cans for the deposit. He even walked 7 miles across town every Sunday to get a good meal at the Hare Krishna temple.
“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.”
Reed College had the best calligraphy program in the United States at the time, and Jobs just so happened to take the class because he was fascinated by it. Ten years later he revolutionized the personal computer by ensuring that the Mac was the first computer to have beautiful typography and multiple fonts. This would be the beginning of a string of hits that Jobs would be responsible for at Apple.
This idea about connecting the dots looking backward really struck a chord with me. I had no idea that a series of decisions I'd made (or were made for me) in my own life would have the impact that they did. Even the company that I started with my friend Amit was the result of past decisions.
Jobs said it best. Death is certain from the minute you are born. What you do with the years you are granted in this world is up to you. Jobs decided to do something that he was truly passionate about while making a huge difference in the world around him—even when people told him his decisions were crazy. If there’s one thing he stressed, it was taking risks and living life the way you envision it – not the way others want you to.
If you do what you love, you will never work a single day in your life and that’s what Jobs did. You may not always know where your choices will lead you—in my case it wasn’t what I had planned—but you’ve got to trust it to be another “dot” in your life. Have faith that everything will work out as it should.
Steve Jobs inspired a whole generation to be innovative thinkers and change the world. I hope I can even accomplish a small fraction of what Jobs did in his 56 years of life. As he ended off his famous speech, I will end off by saying “stay hungry, stay foolish” and one day you will leave your own legacy.
Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address