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March 21, 2008

You'vegot to find what you love", Jobs says.

This is the text of theCommencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of PixarAnimation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I'm honored to be with you todayfor your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. Truthbe told, I never graduated from college, and this is the closest I've evergotten to a college graduation. Today, I want to tell you three stories from mylife. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

Thefirst story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed Collegeafter the first six months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out? It started before Iwas born. My biological mother was a young, unwed graduate student, and shedecided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should beadopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted atbirth by a lawyer and his wife -- except that when I popped out they decided atthe last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on awaiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking, "We've got anunexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said, "Of course."My biological mother found out later that my mother had never graduated fromcollege and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused tosign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when myparents promised that I would go to college. This was the start in my life.

And 17 years later I did go tocollege. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive asStanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on mycollege tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had noidea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to helpme figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had savedtheir entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all workout okay. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of thebest decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking therequired classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the onesthat looked far more interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn'thave a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms. I returned cokebottles for the five cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the sevenmiles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the HareKrishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following mycuriosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give youone example: Reed College at that timeoffered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout thecampus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully handcalligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normalclasses, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. Ilearned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of spacebetween different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can'tcapture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope ofany practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we weredesigning the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designedit all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If Ihad never dropped in on that single course in college, the "Mac"would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. Andsince Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer wouldhave them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on thatcalligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderfultypography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dotslooking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear lookingbackwards 10 years later.

Again, you can't connect the dotslooking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have totrust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust insomething -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever -- because believing thatthe dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow yourheart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make allthe difference.

Mysecond story is about love and loss.

I was lucky -- I found what Iloved to do early in life. Woz1 and I started Apple in my parents' garage whenI was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two ofus in a garage into a two billion dollar company with over 4000 employees. We'djust released our finest creation -- the Macintosh -- a year earlier, and I hadjust turned 30.And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company youstarted? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talentedto run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. Butthen our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a fallingout. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. And so at 30, I wasout. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life wasgone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to dofor a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation ofentrepreneurs down -- that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed tome. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwingup so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running awayfrom the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me: I still loved what Idid. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had beenrejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over. I didn't seeit then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thingthat could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful wasreplaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure abouteverything. 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 companynamed 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, ToyStory, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In aremarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, and I retuned to Apple, and thetechnology 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 wouldhave happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine,but I guess the patient needed it. Sometime life -- Sometimes life going to hityou in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the onlything that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find whatyou love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your workis going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be trulysatisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do greatwork is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking -- anddon'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 yearsroll on. So keep looking -- don't settle.

Mythird story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote thatwent something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, somedayyou'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and sincethen, for the past 33 years, I've looked in the mirror every morning and askedmyself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what Iam about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" fortoo many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering thatI'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help memake the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all externalexpectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these thingsjust 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 trapof thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is noreason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosedwith cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 inthe morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even knowwhat a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type ofcancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than threeto 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 and tellyour kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them injust a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that itwill be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes. Ilived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, wherethey stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach into my intestines,put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I wassedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cellsunder a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be avery rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had thesurgery and, thankfully, I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been tofacing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Havinglived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than whendeath was a useful but purely intellectual concept: No one wants to die. Evenpeople who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet deathis the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as itshould be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It'sLife's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right nowthe new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually becomethe old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's quite true.

Your time is limited, so don'twaste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which isliving with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise ofothers' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have thecourage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you trulywant to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was anamazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the"bibles" of my generation. It was created by a fellow named StewartBrand not far from here in Menlo Park,and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 60s,before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made withtypewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google inpaperback form, 35 years before Google came along. It was idealistic,overflowing with neat tools and great notions. Stewart and his team put outseveral 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 theback cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning countryroad, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were soadventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.And I've 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 muchSmile

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