October 7, 2011

stay hungry, stay foolish but most of all think different

I remember getting my first computer, an Apple II. I picked it up in the city along with my three year old niece who was going to spend the weekend with me.  We got home and I started unpacking the computer looking for the instructions.  Meanwhile, my neice went to the back of the computer, plugged the cables into the slots with the pictures on them, walked around to the front, turned it on and said "Where are the games?"  I was humbled.

This picture of Steve Jobs was taken about that time. I love to remember him that way and not gaunt, bald and in a black turtleneck. The second memory was the iconic "think different" campaign that was launched in 1997 to say that Apple was coming back (a promise he more than delivered on). The original commercial was narrated by Richard Dreyfus but the video below is an earlier version narrated by Steve Jobs himself. Just listen to the enthusiasm in his voice!

We've heard many clips from his 2005 commencement address at Stanford this week. I remember listening to it years ago but paid little attention to his third point he was making. It was about death and his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2004. 

Who talks about death to a graduating class about to go off and conquer the world?  You can Google it yourself but the salient part to me is the excerpt below.
"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 something.
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. . .
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."
I think I still may have a couple of original Whole Earth Catalogs in a box somewhere in the garage. 

When it was announced on NPR, the conclusion to their story said "Jobs touched pretty much anyone who has ever clicked a mouse, sent a photo over the Internet, published a book from a home computer or enjoyed portable music or a computer-animated movie."  That is pretty much the world. My dad always said "we should leave this world a little better than when we came into it".  Steve Jobs certainly did.


Chris said...

Very nice post. You sure have given us something to think about. I'm glad I came by and read it.

LV said...

Thank you for sharing this great piece of information on Mr.Jobs. He was not even a college graduate, and look what he did with his life. An amazing man that had a big impact on the world.

Chris said...

I just reread this post and I still think it is one of the nicest I've ever read on the net. I plan to send it around to a few people who need support in making a decision to change their lives.

merrily row said...

Thank you so much, Chris. I have been thinking about that since I wrote it also. Especially after reading his sister's eulogy. It was in the times on October 30. If you get a chance, read it, too.


judith lockhart said...

Thanks for the sweet comment on my blog this week! Also, what an interesting approach on this quote. I've read it several times. A lot to think about! Thanks for sharing!