Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

I love this old picture of Steve Jobs from the 1980’s (before the days of his black turtleneck & jeans uniform).

Yesterday Jobs resigned as the CEO of Apple, Inc. and news was abuzz of the potential demise of the company and how Apple stock could plummet. All the brouhaha seems a little dramatic. Certainly a perfectionist like Jobs created a company culture that can succeed without him at the helm.

Steve Jobs gave a great commencement speech in 2005 at Stanford University. He shared three stories; first about connecting the dots, then about love and loss, and, finally, about death. It’s well worth reading the whole text but I’ll just comment on the last part.

In his third story, Jobs talks about his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2004. Initially the doctors told Jobs to get his affairs in order, his life expectancy might be just three to six months. Well, later on they discover his cancer IS curable with surgery, so he was treated and recovered. But, during the time he thought he would die shortly, he thought a lot about death and shared some of his thoughts with the Stanford graduates:

“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.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. 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.”

In his concluding commencement remarks, Steve Jobs mentioned “The Whole Earth Catalog,” a publication he enjoyed looking through in the 1970’s. On the back cover of the last issue was a photograph of a country road with the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

As a farewell message to the Stanford graduates, Jobs notes that those words were always something he wished for himself. So, from The Whole Earth Catalog to Steve Jobs to me, I think those are pretty good words of wisdom. And, if the corporate teams at Apple follow this sage advice, the company should be okay! But it is still a sad day for those of us who greatly admire Steve Jobs!