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What We Learn from Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech at Stanford University

Talking about Steve Jobs and you will be talking about a tech genius who was a fantastic marketer as well. There are many books written about him and a movie named Jobs was already released. There are other movies claiming explore his life are in the pipeline and you may see some of them in the year 2015 itself.

His commencement speech at Stanford University is considered as a legendary one. It prove inspirational for a lot of people.

Already there are a lot of articles written about the same and it was referred in many books as well. So what is new to write about the same? Well, this is our personal analysis of the speech.

Always appreciate others. People like acknowledgement of their work.

See how he starts his speech. He cleverly mentions that he is a college drop-out and this is the nearest he is to a graduation. It inspires people automatically to set up higher goals as they receive better education than him at a fantastic place.

It is a human psychology that we often not like to talk about our failures. We keep those skeletons inside a deeply hidden drawer and not dare to face them. However the truth tends to appear on the surface. Especially when you are a prominent figure or celebrity (or politician) it is impossible to keep them buried. So it is better to face them.

So, does that mean, you should always keep talking about failures?

No, certainly not. (It may otherwise portray you as a person with self pity / sympathy seeking attitude).
It simply means, you need to learn from your mistakes and apply the knowledge you got from your failures (failures are even better teacher) to create new milestones in your life (not only in your career). Moving forward with positive attitude, is always the key to get success in life. So never shy away from your failures, and you can do it only, if you can achieve even higher goals by making the failure a step of success.

Setup the environment properly

Steve specifies that he is going tell 3 simple stories from his life and that is it.

By saying this, he creates a relaxed environment and make the audience even more attentive towards his speech. As the audience know, there will be no boring lecture ahead studded with comparatively heavy words of wisdom. At the same time the audience know that there are some real life incidents are about to be told from the life of a legend. And that too in the form of stories! Who don’t want to hear it with attention?

Connecting the dots…

While telling this story, he talks about the incidents from his early life. He talks about his birth and how his unwed biological parents needed him to get adopted by a couple who can afford. Of course it is a tragedy of his life. But he talks like a third person. A good control over emotions makes him present the real life incidents in proper manner. He indirectly states the importance of education in the life. And how his biological and adoptive parents were quite serious about it.

He also talks about the hard life he was living in the poverty. And he was used to walk a few KiloMeters to get a good food.

He also reinforces the fact that the education seems to be a productive factor of your life. As it is said: सा विद्या या विमुक्तये| . The knowledge you have should be able to help you when you need it. (And it also needs to be capable of let you earn your living too). And he clarifies the reasons he decided to “drop out” and move ahead in the life.

He then tells that how he joined the Calligraphy classes (and how he fell in love with the art of display). And he intelligently sets up a link to this event with one of the features of Macintosh computers, to have proportional font typefaces. It was an initiative when the computers with command line interface used to have fixed width fonts (like typewriters). He then brilliantly takes on his competitors by saying “and as Windows have copied Mac”. By saying this, he makes the audience to remind that he should be considered as the pioneer of introducing “fonts” in computers.

A nice way convey your achievements with authority effectively.

Connecting the dots… (Notable sentences)

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.
You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

Love and loss

Here he talks about another chapter of his life. His life was a kind of perfect as he was doing what he love and got a lot of money doing that. Yes, Apple was a well established and remarkable company when Steve was about 30. And one day he was fired from the company!!! In his own words How can you be fired from the company you founded?!. Then he briefly explains how it happened.

This makes you to learn, be ready for anything unexpected in the life.

So there is another failure in his life. He is again a fresher who is in need to start his career. It is comparatively easy to make a fresh start in the life. But when you fall from the top, after achieving remarkable success, it is very tough to stand up again.

But, when there is no other choice you have to.

Your attitudes comes into picture now. If you have positive attitude, you can re-start from the scratch. Steve did the same. He felt that life gave him a good lesson. He don’t have a burden of success and expectations. And he was ready to start fresh. He started NeXT and funded Pixar. Pixar then made first computer-animated movie Toy Story, which met with immense success. He married Lauren, started his family and eventually he was again in the board of Apple!

Love and loss (Notable sentences)

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.
So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.


Here he talks about how he was diagnosed with a Cancer. He was in emotionally fragile situation. Doctors already started taking steps to get him ready to face the death. He eventually got lucky to survive. And he learnt one more lesson: Death is inevitable and can come without knocking.

So he developed a habit to ask himself If this is the last day of his life, will he do the same stuff he is doing? And, if the answer is NO, for few days. He got to know that he have to change the course of events and tasks he is busy with.

So without being melodramatic, one have to setup the priorities. And yes, have to start doing things which one is very much fond of, without waiting too much for the right time. Who know, the perfect right time may never come!!!

Death (Notable sentences)

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.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

The transcript of the entire speech is available at:
We highly recommend you to read it at least once. We are sure you have definitely something more to say.

Over to you

What are your thoughts about this commencement speech?

You may also like to read our summarized views regarding some other commencement speeches, which we found interesting, inspirational, motivational and got a chance to write about. What you think about this commencement speech? Do share your reviews and views via comments below. And yes, do not forget to share this article with your friends over various social networks via Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and others. And yes, you may like to subscribe to our RSS feeds and follow us on various Social networks to get latest updates for the site to land right in your mail box.

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