Steve Jobs' big lesson: 'Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish'

Steve Jobs' 2005 commencement speech at Stanford says a lot about his life and the "great change agent" known as death.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Steve Jobs has passed away and what you'll find on these pages and many Web pages like them are planned storylines about the life Apple's co-founder.

That's life in the news business. You plan ahead. Now that we're posting stories, video packages and other pieces of content it all just feels off. Like way off.

Why? You don't quite know what your reaction will be until the moment actually comes. We all knew Jobs' day would come. We also knew it would come soon. That's why the thoughts that emerged when Jobs stepped down as CEO came out like obits. Few of use wanted to totally acknowledge it, but Jobs' fate was obvious when he stepped down as CEO.

Those CEO stories primarily focused on the business side of Jobs. His first tour at Apple. The Next diversion. Pixar. And then the rebirth at Apple, which appears to be set up for a nice post Jobs run. Frankly, setting Apple up to thrive beyond his tenure may turn out to be Jobs' greatest business accomplishment.

When Jobs stepped down as CEO I chose to look at his ride through the lens of Apple products. It's was a natural path to take. Now that Jobs has passed it isn't.

Whether you love or hate Apple---or fall somewhere in between---it's hard not to acknowledge that Jobs was a brilliant man. He's also a man that we don't really know a lot about. But he's also a man that changed a lot of lives.

Here's what stuck out about Jobs for me:

  • Innovative.
  • Quirky.
  • Stubborn as hell.
  • Controlling.
  • Great leader.
  • An artist eye for design with an engineer's brain.
  • Amazing legacy.
  • "Stay hungry, stay foolish."

I'd argue that Jobs is my generation's Walt Disney. He entertained. He delighted. And he built something enduring. Jobs was a disruptive force. Given the Disney comparison, it's a bit ironic that Jobs wound up being Disney's largest shareholder via the Pixar acquisition.

More importantly, Jobs loved what he did. And pursued that love with a passion. In a 2005 Stanford commencement speech, Jobs said:

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.

For now, Jobs' passing is garnering a bevy of statements---mostly canned like a lot of the stories tonight. But all you really need to know about Jobs and what he left behind can be found in his Stanford commencement speech from 2005 (full text). As you ponder Jobs it's worth adapting some of these life lessons for your days ahead.


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