USC speech

October 2, 2007

Steve Jobs commencement speech

Filed under: Uncategorized — minimax @ 7:00 am

What companies do you like the most? Are there any companies that you dislike? What do you know about the company Apple? What do you know about its CEO Steve Jobs?

成就 accomplishment · something that is successful, or that is achieved after a lot of work or effort
大膽的 adventurous · willing to try new or difficult things, or exciting and often dangerous
事情 affairs · a situation or subject that is being dealt with or considered
原動力 agent · a person or thing that produces a particular effect or change
驚人的 amazing · extremely surprising
動畫的 animated · describes films, drawings, puppets or models that are photographed and shown in a way that makes them move and appear to be alive
應用 application · a way in which something can be used for a particular purpose
藝術的 artistic · relating to art [=the making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings]
切片檢查法 biopsy · the removal and examination of tissue from an ill person, in order to discover more about their illness
書法 calligraphy · (the art of producing) beautiful writing, often created with a special pen or brush
細胞 cell · the smallest basic unit of a plant or animal
情況 circumstance · a fact or event that makes a situation the way it is
密碼 code · a system of words, letters or signs which is used to represent a message in secret form, or a system of numbers, letters or signals which is used to represent something in a shorter or more convenient form
了解整個過程 connect the dots · understand how a certain situation came to be
確信的 convinced · certain
膽量 courage · the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation
有創造力 creative · producing or using original and unusual ideas
可醫治的 curable · describes a disease that can be cured
好奇心 curiosity · an eager desire to know or learn about something
deposit · a small amount of money is given back to you if you return some drink bottles or cans when they are empty
破壞性極大的 devastating · making someone very shocked and upset
診斷 diagnose · to recognize and name the exact character of a disease or a problem, by making an examination
教義 dogma · a fixed, especially religious, belief or set of beliefs that people are expected to accept without any doubts
宿舍 dorm · a large room containing many beds, especially in a boarding school or university
退學 drop out · If a student drops out, they stop going to classes before they have finished their course.
(聲音等)壓過 drown out · If a loud noise drowns out another noise, it prevents it from being heard.
期望 expectation · when you expect good things to happen in the future
外來的 external · of, on, for or coming from the outside
弄懂 figure out · to finally understand something or someone, or find the solution to a problem after a lot of thought
愚蠢的 foolish · unwise, ridiculous or lacking in judgment
車庫 garage · a building where a car is kept, which is built next to or as part of a house
作搭便車式的旅行 hitchhike · to travel by getting free rides in someone else’s vehicle
印象 impression · the way that something seems, looks or feels to a particular person
整理好 put in order · to organize something well
回顧 in retrospect · thinking now about something in the past
inner voice · Inner feelings or thoughts that you do not show or tell other people
直覺 intuition · (knowledge obtained from) an ability to understand or know something immediately without needing to think about it, learn it or discover it by using reason
發明 invent · to design and/or create something which has never been made before
有限的 limited · small in amount or number
顯微鏡 microscope · a device that uses lenses to make very small objects look larger, so that they can be scientifically examined and studied
胰腺 pancreas · an organ in the body that produces insulin (= a chemical substance that controls the amount of sugar in the blood) and substances which help to digest food so that it can be used by the body
實際的 practical · relating to experience, reality or action rather than ideas or imagination
貴重的 priceless · describes an object which has such a high value, especially because it is rare, that the price of it cannot be calculated
驕傲 pride · the belief that you are better or more important than other people
出版物 publication · a book, magazine, newspaper or document in which information or stories are published
稀有的 rare · not common; very unusual
遺憾 regret · a feeling of sadness about something sad or wrong or about a mistake that you have made, and a wish that it could have been different and better
拒絕 reject · to not give someone the love and attention they want and are expecting from you
復活 renaissance · a new growth of activity or interest in something, especially art, literature or music
(學科)必修的 required · needed or necessary
sedate · to cause a person or animal to be very calm or go to sleep by giving them a drug
勉強接受 settle · to accept or agree to something, or to decide to have something, although it is not exactly what you want or it is not the best
電影製片廠 studio · a building or place where films are made for the cinema, or a company which makes them
意外地發現 stumble into · to discover something by chance, or to meet someone by chance
(外科)手術 surgery · the treatment of injuries or diseases in people or animals by cutting open the body and removing or repairing the damaged part
寺廟 temple · a building used for the worship of a god or gods in some religions
使落入圈套(或困境) trap · force or trick someone into doing something that they do not want to do
學費 tuition · the money paid for receiving instruction
腫瘤 tumor · a mass of diseased cells which might become a lump or cause illness
事情的演變 turn of events · a change in a situation
印刷工藝 typography · the style, size and arrangement of the letters in a piece of printing
值得做的 worthwhile · useful, important or beneficial enough to be a suitable reward for the money or time spent or the effort made

Today I want to tell you three stories from my life.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a “drop-in” for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

How often do you tell other people stories from your own life? What past experiences do you most often share with others?

01 Have you ever dropped out of school?

If you have dropped out of school, what were the circumstances? If you haven’t, at what point did you most want to drop out of school?

All of my parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

What do you consider some of the best, but most difficult, decisions that you have made? Have you ever made a big decision that you later regretted?

02 When you were 17, did you know what you wanted to do with your life?

What did you want to become when you were 17? Where were you studying when you were 17?

The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’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 deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the temple. I loved it.

What required classes do not interest you? If you dropped out and could stop taking these classes, what classes would you drop in on?

03 Have you ever lived hand to mouth as Jobs did after he dropped out of college?

During what time in your life were you poorest? Do you think you could be happy living the kind of life Jobs had after he dropped out?

Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful and I found it fascinating.

Have you ever had an experience like Jobs, in which you found something valuable just by following your curiosity and intuition?

04 Have you learned how to do calligraphy?

Have you learned any other artistic skills? How talented do you think you are artistically?

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had it. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have it. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

05 Have you ever taken a course that had a large influence on your life?

What course has made the strongest impression on you?

06 Looking back ten years ago, can you “connect the dots” that led you to where you are now in life?

Where were you living and what was your life like ten years ago?

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. So at 30 I was out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

Have you ever had an experience that you would describe as “devastating”?

07 Have you ever been fired from a job?

How many jobs have you held? Why did you stop doing each of these jobs?

08 Have you ever used an Apple Macintosh computer?

Have you used any other Apple products, like an iPod? What’s your impression of Apple as a company?

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

Have you ever experienced a “very public failure”? How do you usually respond to failure—for example, by trying even harder the next time or feeling discouraged? Would you describe this period of your life as being a creative one? What period in your life has been most creative? In general, how creative a person do you think you are? In what area are you most creative?

09 Have you ever had something terrible happen to you that in retrospect turned out to be something good?

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

10 Have you seen any Pixar movies?

Which Pixar movie is your favorite–Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille? What movies have you seen recently? What movies would you recommend? What movies are you hoping to see soon?

11 Have you ever fallen in love with someone you would describe as “amazing”?

Has anyone described you as “amazing” or something similar?

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

12 Have you found what you love to do?

13 Do you agree that the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work?

Do you agree with Jobs that the only way to do great work is to love what you do? Do you think you have done “great work”? What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in life so far?

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.

14 Do you think something similar after you wake up each day?

What do you usually think about when you are getting ready to go out after getting up? Do you think Jobs’ question is a good question to ask yourself every day? If tomorrow really were the last day of your life, what would you want to do?

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool 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 to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with a tumor on my pancreas. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for “prepare to die”. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

How do you go about making big choices in life? Is there anyone you go to for advice? How much do other people’s expectations about you influence your decisions? Does fear of embarrassment keep you from doing things you want to do? What about fear of failure?

15 Have you ever had a serious illness?

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy. I was sedated, but my wife told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you: 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 you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.

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.

What is the closest you have been to facing death?

16 Do you agree that Death is probably the best invention of Life?

Do you think Jobs’ advice is good?

17 Would you say that you are currently “living someone else’s life”?

Do you usually follow your heart and intuition?

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog. It was sort of like Google, 35 years before Google came along. 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. Stay hungry. Stay foolish. 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.

How often do you use Google?

18 Would you describe yourself now as being “hungry and foolish”?

What do you think it means to be “hungry and foolish”? Do you think being hungry and foolish is worthwhile?

If you were going to create a speech using one or more stories from your own life, what stories might you use?


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: