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Jobsism: Stay hungry. Stay foolish

india Updated: Oct 07, 2011 01:54 IST
Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs, also referred to as the Thomas Edison of his time, revealed in a commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 why he dropped out of college - and why he thought it was one of the best things he ever did. Yet he had other advice for the students.

Jobs started that speech by telling about being adopted as a baby, and why, 17 years later, he attended Reed College in Oregon for only six months before dropping out.

"My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption," he said. "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. When she 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. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. Looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made."

"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 cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven 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."

At the end of the speech, his advice to the students went like this:

"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 and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. 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."