Steve Jobs Spoke At Stanford In 2005 And It Is The Best Commencement Speech Ever | Exploring Markets

Steve Jobs Spoke At Stanford In 2005 And It Is The Best Commencement Speech Ever

Steve Jobs never graduated from college. He even said his commencement address at Stanford in 2005 was the closest he ever got to graduation. His entire speech at Stanford is a must-watch. It's centered around 3 stories, and each of them are remarkably insightful or inspiring. We embedded the video below, but also highlighted several of the best points here:

 1.) Connecting the dots: Jobs dropped out of Reed College. 
  • His biological mother was a young unwed graduate student who wanted Jobs to be adopted by college graduates. A lawyer and his wife almost adopted him but decided last minute they wanted a girl.
  • Eventually he was adopted by a working class family. They did not have a college degree, as Jobs' biological mother demanded, but they promised that Jobs would get one. She then gave him up.
  • At Reed college, Jobs felt guilty - all of his parents' money was being put toward his tuition. So he dropped out. He later called this the greatest decision he ever made.
  • Jobs tells 4 great examples about what his lifestyle turned into after he dropped out. He went to random classes that interested him. He collected bottles and returned them to recyclers for money to buy meals. Every Sunday he would go to a Hare Krishna temple for free meal.
  • Ultimately, what Jobs learned while looking back at this moment is that he was following his intuition, interests, and adventures. 
  • At Reed college, while a dropout, he occasionally went to a calligraphy class they offered. At that very moment in time it had little meaning in his life. But, 10 years later while designing the first Apple Macintosh, he used some of the concepts he learned in that exact calligraphy class. Things like typeface, font, and letter spacing were both artistic and compelling in a way that science could not offer him.
  • The lesson behind this story is that you have to trust your intuition and your heart. Even if it sends you off the natural path. The dots all connect in the end. But it's impossible to connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking back.

2.) Love and loss: Jobs started Apple with Steve Wozniak. But at one point he was actually fired by his own company.
  • After getting fired from Apple, the company he started, Jobs felt that he had failed. He wanted to quit and leave Silicon Valley and technology for good.
  • But, he was far too much in love with what he did. So he started again, and to his surprise, he felt lighter and less burdened being able to freely start new companies.
  • He started 2 companies. One called Next and another called Pixar. 
  • Pixar is now the most successful digital animation company in the world.
  • During this time, Steve Jobs also fell in love with his now wife.
  • His company Next, was acquired by Apple. And just like that he was back with the company he started.
  • The point of this story is to emphasize that you should always be searching for what you love and you should never settle. Even when you are at your lowest point, you must keep following your dream. The best and most unexpected surprises are found that way.

3.) Death: At 17 years old, Jobs once read, "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right."
  • Being aware of death is the best way to know you have nothing to fear.
  • Fear of failure, expectations, external pressures, and just about every worry you have disappears in the face of death. Remember that.
  • When Steve Jobs learned about his pancreas cancer, he saw death in eyes. He learned even more how important each day is.
  • The lesson here is to never let what others say or think change you. Follow your heart, your dreams, and your passion. Stay true to yourself. Use death as a motivator.
Jobs concludes his speech with a story where he learned a quote that he'll never forget. But you have to watch the video to find out what he says: