You've got tofind what you love,' Jobs says
This is the text of the Commencement address bySteve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered onJune 12, 2005.
I am honored to be with you today at yourcommencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I nevergraduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to acollege graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That'sit. No big deal. Just three stories.
The firststory is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so beforeI really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological motherwas a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up foradoption. 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 hiswife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that theyreally wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call inthe middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do youwant him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother laterfound out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my fatherhad never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoptionpapers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that Iwould someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But Inaively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of myworking-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. Aftersix months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to dowith my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. Andhere I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. SoI decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was prettyscary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I evermade. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes thatdidn'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 everySunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I lovedit. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turnedout to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the bestcalligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster,every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I haddropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take acalligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san seriftypefaces, about varying the amount of space between different lettercombinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful,historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and Ifound it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practicalapplication in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the firstMacintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into theMac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had neverdropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never hadmultiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows justcopied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I hadnever dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, andpersonal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Ofcourse it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was incollege. 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 dotswill 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 hasmade 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 inlife. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We workedhard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage intoa $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finestcreation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then Igot fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Applegrew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company withme, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of thefuture began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, ourBoard 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 wasdevastating.
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 Ihad dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packardand Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a verypublic failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. Butsomething slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn ofevents at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was stillin love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn't see it then, but it turned out thatgetting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened tome. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being abeginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of themost creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a companynamed NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing womanwho would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computeranimated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animationstudio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, Iretuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart ofApple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful familytogether.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happenedif I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guessthe patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don'tlose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that Iloved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true foryour work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part ofyour life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe isgreat work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If youhaven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of theheart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it justgets 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 somethinglike: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll mostcertainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for thepast 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 aboutto do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too manydays in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the mostimportant tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear ofembarrassment 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 isthe 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. Ihad a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on mypancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this wasalmost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expectto live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home andget my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means totry to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years totell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned upso that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say yourgoodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later thatevening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, throughmy stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a fewcells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me thatwhen they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started cryingbecause it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that iscurable 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 throughit, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was auseful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go toheaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we allshare. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Deathis very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. Itclears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, butsomeday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be clearedaway. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it livingsomeone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with theresults of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinionsdrown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to followyour heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want tobecome. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publicationcalled 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 withtypewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like [gm88nd] inpaperback form, 35 years before [gm88nd] came along: it was idealistic, andoverflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of TheWhole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a finalissue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of theirfinal issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind youmight find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it werethe words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell messageas they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished thatfor myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.