This may not happen in any other country – a college dropout being asked to give the commencement speech in one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Steve Jobs gave the speech at Stanford University’s 114th commencement this weekend and our local TV channel which specializes in human and animal deaths around the world spent a segment on it.
Jobs began by rehashing the fact that he dropped out of college, and that Sunday’s ceremony was the closest he had ever gotten to a university graduation. He then launched into the first part of his address, which focused on having faith that the dots of one’s life will connect down the road, even if the journey so far has not followed a clear pattern.
Jobs said his biological mother was an unwed graduate student who had planned to have him adopted. She had chosen a professional couple to be the adoptive parents, but because they wanted a girl, he was adopted by a husband and wife who didn’t have college degrees, Jobs said.
They pledged to send the boy to college, and when the time came, he chose Reed College in Portland, Ore. But because all of their savings was going toward his tuition, Jobs dropped out and began taking courses that interested him instead of those that were required—such as a calligraphy course that later inspired him to design different fonts in the first Macintosh.
The last part of his speech was about death. When he was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, Jobs said doctors expected him to live no longer than six months. He had surgery not long after and has since recovered, but the experience nonetheless taught him another lesson.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” Jobs said. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.“[After traditional Commencement antics, Jobs imparts straightforward advice]
During a certain point in time, he lived off the 5-cent recycling deposits on soda cans and the free food offered by the Hare Krishnas. One of the important lessons he had was on how to handle failure.
Jobs also recounted founding Apple in his parent’s basement and his tough times after being forced out of the company he founded when he was only 30. “I was a very public failure and I even thought about running away from the valley,” Jobs said. Instead, he founded Pixar Studios, which recently released enormously popular films such as “Madagascar,” and “Finding Nemo.””It was awful tasting medicine but I guess the patient needed it,” Jobs said.[Apple CEO tells Stanford graduates to pursue their passions]
Here is the full transcript of the speech