Christian Long

Steve Jobs: Live Before You Die

In TED Talks on April 12, 2010 at 11:02 am

Reflection by KRISTEN K.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Steve Jobs:  Live Before You Die

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

These are the final words in Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University. Along with those words of advice, Mr. Jobs tells three stories about dropping out of college, getting fired from the company he started, and surviving pancreatic cancer.

Considering the immense success Mr. Jobs has achieved as an innovator and creative technological genius, his advice should be heeded. But, as numerous comments on the TED website point out, dropping out of school is rarely the ticket for success. I think, however, that they are misunderstanding Mr. Jobs’ intent by sharing his story about leaving school.

Not once during the speech does Mr. Jobs advocate dropping out. However it is quite impossible to explain how the Macintosh came in to being without explaining how, by eliminating the need to attend core classes, Mr. Jobs was able to take classes that fueled his creativity and interest–the very same creativity and interest without which Apple and Pixar could never have been invented.

Mr. Jobs is not telling Stanford students that they made a mistake going to college; he is simply reminding them, now that they will enter the work force, to only do something if they love to do it. He explains that he tries to live every day like it is his last.

This advice, which for some viewers was overshadowed by the mention of being a college dropout, is invaluable. Why spend your 90-odd years on Earth “living someone else’s life?”

“Stay hungry.” Don’t be content with a high-paying job that leaves you unsatisfied. Stay hungry for life, stay hungry for knowledge, stay hungry for love. “Don’t settle.” School is not about the grade, college is not about the degree, and work is not about the salary. Perhaps all three are necessary, but it is the journey, not the GPA, that will shape a person. Do what you love first and what you have to do second.

“Stay foolish.” Trust your gut and not the logic that has been hammered into you since birth. Don’t be afraid to stray from the predetermined path to chase something–or someone–you love.

Greatness is not achieved by doing what everyone else has already done.

  1. Very highly valued and a opening for all who want to find out, really and truly find out. I am grateful and feel very lucky to have stumbled into this viewing on TED.

    Thanks to all concerned.

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