Address – Steve Jobs Stanford 2005

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement.
from one of the finest universities in the world.
I never graduated from college.
Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation.
Today I want to tell you three stories from my life.
That’s it.
No big deal.
Just three stories.

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?

It started before I was born.
My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student,
and she decided to put me up for adoption.
She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates,
so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife.
Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl.
So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking.
“We have an unexpected baby boy. do you want him?”
They said “Of course”.
My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college
and that my father had never graduated from high school.
She refused to sign the final adoption papers.
She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college.
But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford,
and all of my working-class 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.
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 5¢ 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 Hare Krishna temple.
I loved it.
And 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.
Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed.
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 serif and sans serif typefaces,
about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations,
about what makes great typography great.
It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way
that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life.
But 10 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 multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.
And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.
If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class,
and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.
Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college.
But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward.
you can only connect them looking backward.
So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
You have to trust in something.
your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

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 with over 4,000 employees.
We had just released our finest creation, the Macintosh, a year earlier, and I had just turned 30.
And then I got fired.
How can you get fired from a company you started?
Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented
to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well.
But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out.
When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him.
So at 30 I was out.
And very publicly out.
What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months.
I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down 
that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me.
I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly.
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.

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.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple.
It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.
Don’t lose faith.
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.
Don’t settle.
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.

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.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool
I’ve ever encountered 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 I know
to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.
You are already naked.
There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer.
I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas.
I didn’t even know what a pancreas was.
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 is buttoned up
so that it will be as easy as possible for your family.
It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day.
Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat,
through my stomach and into my intestines,
put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor.
I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, 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,
and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades.
Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty
than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

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.
And that is as it should be, because 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 someday not too long from now,
you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.
Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

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.
Everything else is secondary.

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 1960s, 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.

Address – Barack Obama Keynote 2004

2004 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address

On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, Land of Lincoln,
let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention.

Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let’s face it,
my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely.
My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya.
He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack.
His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son.
Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America,
that shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before.

While studying here, my father met my mother.
She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas.
Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression.
The day after Pearl Harbor my grandfather signed up for duty.
Joined Patton’s army, marched across Europe.
Back home, my grandmother raised a baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line.
After the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through F.H.A.,
and later moved west all the way to Hawaii in search of opportunity.

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter.
A common dream, born of two continents.

My parents shared not only an improbable love,
they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation.
They would give me an African name, Barack, or blessed,
believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success.
They imagined, They imagined me going to the best schools in the land,
even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America
you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential.

They’re both passed away now.
And yet, I know that on this night they look down on me with great pride.
They stand here, and I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage,
aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters.
I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story,
that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that,
in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.

Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our Nation.
Not because of the height of our skyscrapers,
or the power of our military,
or the size of our economy.
Our pride is based on a very simple premise,
summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago.

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That is the true genius of America.
a faith, a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles.
that we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm.
that we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door.
that we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe.
that we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution,
and that our votes will be counted, at least most of the time.

This year, in this election we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments,
to hold them against a hard reality and see how we’re measuring up to the legacy of our forbearers
and the promise of future generations.

And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, I say to you tonight.
We have more work to do, more work to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois,
who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico,
and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour.

More to do for the father that I met who was losing his job and choking back the tears,
wondering how he would pay 4500 dollars a month for the drugs his son needs
without the health benefits that he counted on.
More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her,
who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college.

Now, don’t get me wrong.
The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks,
they don’t expect government to solve all their problems.
They know they have to work hard to get ahead, and they want to.
Go into the collar counties around Chicago,
and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.

Go in, Go into any inner city neighborhood,
and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach our kids to learn.

They know that parents have to teach,
that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets
and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.
They know those things.

People don’t expect, people don’t expect government to solve all their problems.
But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities,
we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life,
and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all.
They know we can do better.
And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice.
Our Party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer.
And that man is John Kerry.

John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and service because they’ve defined his life.
From his heroic service to Vietnam, to his years as a prosecutor and lieutenant governor,
through two decades in the United States Senate, he’s devoted himself to this country.

Again and again,
we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available.

His values and his record affirm what is best in us.
John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded.
So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas,
he offers them to companies creating jobs here at home.

John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage
our politicians in Washington have for themselves.

John Kerry believes in energy independence,
so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies,
or the sabotage of foreign oil fields.

John Kerry believes in the Constitutional freedoms
that have made our country the envy of the world,
and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties,
nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.

And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world war must be an option sometimes,
but it should never be the first option.

You know, a while back, a while back I met a young man
named Shamus in a V.F.W. Hall in East Moline, Illinois.
He was a good-looking kid, six two, six three, clear eyed, with an easy smile.
He told me he’d joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week.
And as I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted,
the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders,
his devotion to duty and service,
I thought this young man was all that any of us might ever hope for in a child.

But then I asked myself,
‘Are we serving Shamus as well as he is serving us?’
I thought of the 900 men and women,
sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors,
who won’t be returning to their own hometowns.

I thought of the families I’ve met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income,
or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered,
but still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.

When we send our young men and women into harm’s way,
we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going,
to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return,
and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace,
and earn the respect of the world.

Now,. Now let me be clear.
Let me be clear.
We have real enemies in the world.
These enemies must be found.
They must be pursued.
And they must be defeated.

John Kerry knows this.
And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men
who served with him in Vietnam,
President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military
might to keep America safe and secure.

John Kerry believes in America.
And he knows that it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper,
for alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga,
a belief that we’re all connected as one people.
If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read,
that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.

If there is a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs,
and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer,
even if it’s not my grandparent.
If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process,
that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief.
It is that fundamental belief.
I am my brother’s keeper.
I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work.
It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”

Now even as we speak,
there are those who are preparing to divide us the spin masters,
the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight,
there is not a liberal America and a conservative America,
there is the United States of America.

There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America.
There’s the United States of America.

The pundits,
the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into red states and blue states.
Red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats.
But I’ve got news for them, too.
We worship an awesome God in the blue states,
and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states.

We coach Little League in the blue states and yes,
we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.
There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq
and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.
We are one people,
all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes,
all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end,
In the end, In the end, that’s what this election is about.
Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope?
John Kerry calls on us to hope.
John Edwards calls on us to hope.

I’m not talking about blind optimism here the almost willful ignorance
that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it,
or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it.
That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about something more substantial.
It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs.
The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores.
The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta.
The hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds.
The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.
Hope, Hope in the face of difficulty.
Hope in the face of uncertainty.
The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us,
the bedrock of this nation.
A belief in things not seen.
A belief that there are better days ahead.
I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families
with a road to opportunity.

I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless,
homes to the homeless,
and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.
I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs and that as we stand on the crossroads of history,
we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us.

if you feel the same energy that I do,
if you feel the same urgency that I do,
if you feel the same passion that I do,
if you feel the same hopefulness that I do,
if we do what we must do,
then I have no doubt that all across the country,
from Florida to Oregon,
from Washington to Maine,
the people will rise up in November,
and John Kerry will be sworn in as President,
and John Edwards will be sworn in as Vice President,
and this country will reclaim its promise,
and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.

Thank you very much everybody.
God bless you.
Thank you.