Steve Jobs: You’ve got to find what you love
These are the words uttered by Steve Jobs – at the Stanford Commencement speech in 2005 – who just stepped down today on Wednesday, August 23rd 2011, as the CEO of Apple Inc., the world’s most valuable company.
Steve Jobs, with Steve Wozniak, essentially created the personal computer as it is known today. Many years hence, Jobs managed to turn a dying company into a profitable one, introduced a new operating system, a beautiful designed cutting-edge line of computers that evolve faster than the competition’s and basically revolutionized the digital music industry. He did all of this while disrupting the saturated mobile market by introducing a new breed of smart phones and touch technology.
And most recently, and probably something he will no doubt be remembered for, his latest creation – the iPad. Jobs managed to successfully create and market a new class of sub-computers, which reignited the dull and boring tablet market into a thriving consumer delight. Even with several new competitors, the iPad still continues to dominate the tablet market.
The company that Michael Dell said would suffer a slow death and should close down while it still had something to return to its investors, has this year passed Exxon as the world’s most valuable company. Apple now has bigger financial reserves than the U.S. government by several billion dollars, and that is something we can directly thank Steve Jobs for.
In his Stanford address, Jobs goes on to tell three stories that tell us a little bit about how his mind works. His stories were around connecting the dots, artistic subtlety that science can’t capture, love and loss and even death where he described his first tryst with cancer etc. In the end, his speech eloquently explains where he got “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish”
“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.”
In his 1985 interview with Playboy magazine, Jobs tells another story about attending a party and showing off Apple’s new Macintosh to an interested kid and a few adults. When asked why Jobs was seemingly happier in showing off the computer to the kid as opposed to the adults, Jobs responded:
“Older people sit down and ask, “What is it?” but the boy asks, “What can I do with it?””
“People get stuck as they get older. Our minds are sort of electrochemical computers. Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing. Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they’re rare.”
Looking at interviews with Jobs and other Apple executives 20 years later, it becomes clear that the spirit of Apple from 1985 still permeates through the company today. That’s pretty rare for any company, let alone a company in the fast moving world of high-tech. These are truly great accomplishments.
There is also much speculation about how his protege Tim Cook will do. And while most people remain skeptical, (since he appears to lack pzazz and has seemingly big shoes to fill) my husband correctly points out that he has basically been running the company for quite some time now (as COO) and will make an excellent CEO of Apple with continued profitability. But what he wont be able to do, is be Steve Jobs, the legend. And really, that is unfair to expect from anyone.