Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish - Steve Jobs commencement address to the Stanford class of 2005

As we evolve out of a decade that the TV news services are lovingly replaying every fucking evening as, 'The Worst Decade Ever' and New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman has dubbed 'The Big Zero' I have finally stumbled on and come to revere a video that has been buzzing about the net for a few years. It is Steve Jobs giving the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Stanford University.

And as the naysayers would like to put the shit stamp on most of the last decade it bears reminding that during that time also, Steve Jobs resuscitated Apple, introduced the iPod, iPhone and iTunes and survived both Pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant. His simple telling of just three very personal stories here, in a scant 15 minutes, is a testament to both brevity and resilience. We can all learn from this.

Steve Jobs, Christian, Apple, Stanford, Love, Stay Hungry, Gutenberg, Stay foolish,  Cross, His first story recants his exposure to calligraphy and typography in college and how that eventually found itself into the finesse with which the Macintosh renders type. It reminded me of one of my first loves, taught by Bill Hannon at Black Hawk college in Moline, Illinois. Bill taught calligraphy as taught to him by monks in Europe and although I was terrible at it personally, was privileged to visit a Gutenberg exhibition this year here in Munich. What goes around, comes around. I'm still fascinated by the transcription of the written word. What if Gutenberg had a blog?, I mused this year. Now I have one.

Job's s
econd story is a familiar one to me but one that seems lost or forgotten on all those who are lost or somehow unhappy in their lives. He makes the point about being fortunate to have found something he loved to do very early in life - and I too share that fortunate beginning. From the early ages of my teens I began to combine the elements of words and pictures togetherSteve Jobs, Christian, Apple, Stanford, Love, Stay Hungry, Gutenberg, Stay foolish,  Cross, into new ideas, first as a cartoonist and writer for school papers and later, after university, in the advertising business. "The only way to do great work, is to find something that you love to do", says Jobs. I wrote about it last year in a story called, "Do what you love, the money will follow" - and it's the only thing that has kept me from selling pipe or driving a truck or making a mess of another career because the love had gone but I still needed the paycheck. This last year my writing on this blog was criticized heavily by someone who said it had no value and was a waste of time. Now, six months later, that person has come to see its value because she has come to realize that the combination of art and commerce is the only way professions work for me. What people need to go through to realize that is sometimes phenomenally difficult. Better to find out as early as possible and just stick with the plan.

Steve Jobs, Christian, Apple, Stanford, Love, Stay Hungry, Gutenberg, Stay foolish,  Cross, The third story related by Jobs is about death, but more importantly about the value of life, inspired most definitely by his own brushes with death, but should ring true to us all before we ever get to a vision of the other side. "Your time is limited", he says, "So don't waste it by living somebody else's life". And this is something I will never need to apologize to anyone for. Whomever I am, whatever I do. It is me. And for those who are comfortable with that, I can gain a friend. And for those who are not, I can put my time towards much more productive use. Here's hoping we can all focus on the positive as this decade turns. Cheers. Stay hungry. Stay foolish. They are the only things in life, and love, that really make any sense.

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