The Goal of Steve Jobs
The speech that I watched was a commencement speech delivered at Stanford University by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005. The goal of Steve Jobs’ speech is to persuade the graduates to find the jobs that they can draw passion from and truly love. As Jobs took his place upon the podium, he began his speech to the 23,000 students and faculty in attendance with a bit of modest humor stating “I never graduated college, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation” (Jobs). He then sets the foundation for what he intends to cover throughout the speech, which is three stories from his life.
The first story from his life was titled connecting the dots. Using comprehensive listening I visualized the hardships that he faced as he spoke to the graduates first about starting his life out being adopted with a promise that he would attend college, then about dropping out of Reed College so he could “drop in” to the courses he wanted to take, like calligraphy, a course that would be instrumental in the design of his first computer and technology we use today. “It was the first computer with beautiful typography” (Jobs). Jobs further illustrates this idea to his audience by ending his first story with an example of antithesis: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards” (Jobs).
Jobs’ second story was about love and loss. I relived his expressive experiences as he detailed how his love for computers began at an early age, how he built Apple, and lost Apple after a falling out with the Board of Directors. Utilizing imagery and empathetic diction as he explains that “Getting fired was the best thing that could ever happened to me, 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” (Jobs). I felt the despair and pathos that was truly evident in this part of his speech.
His third story was about death and how it influences his decision-making process. I was bolstered with motivation and optimism as Jobs utilized metaphors, imagery, and sympathy to relate his own personal and emotional experiences of overcoming his near-death experience with cancer to engage the audience. Jobs uses this story primarily to prove to the recent graduates that life is extremely short and
that they must make the most of it through living their own lives rather than those of others, following their intuitions, and most importantly, doing what they love. “Remembering that are you going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart” (Jobs).
Jobs concludes his speech repeating the phrase “Stay hungry. Stay foolish” (Jobs). What I took away from the speech is that 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 (Merriam-Webster). 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.