Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech is largely considered one of the best graduation speeches in recent memory. Interestingly enough, I recently showed the speech to a friend of mine and it wasn’t long before she had tears streaming down her face, so touched she was by Jobs’ inspirational story.
Truth be told, I wasn’t exactly sure what triggered her reaction, but after reading what billionaire Richard Branson had to say bout Steve Jobs, things make a little bit more sense.
He was a truly great businessman but more than that he was an inspiration to young people, entrepreneurs, inventors, designers, early adopters, budding musicians, and people with disabilities who discovered with Apple’s devices a way to engage with the world.
So many people drew courage from Steve and related to his life story: adoptees, college drop-outs, struggling entrepreneurs, ousted business leaders figuring out how to make a difference in the world, and people fighting debilitating illness. We have all been there in some way and can see a bit of ourselves in his personal and professional successes and struggles.
He inspired with his direct message “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life…have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” And yet, despite all his success – he never forgot what was really important in life and was a much loved family man. My thoughts are with Laurene and his family. He will be sorely missed.
Jobs wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his life. He didn’t travel the beaten path. And even after he achieved success with Apple, he was humbled in a serious way when he was kicked out of the company he helped co-found. But he picked himself up by his bootstraps, persevered, entered new businesses, and ultimately found his way back to Apple in a homecoming story that couldn’t have been scripted by even the most talented of writers.
Steve Jobs, in many ways, embodies what’s possible when excuses are thrown on the window and replaced with a strong work ethic and a big imagination. Jobs’ death evoked so much emotion not only because his creations have influenced generations and transformed industries, but also because he was the embodiment of the American dream. A self made man who made it big by the beat of his brow.
He succeeded, he stumbled. He was passionate, persuasive, and at the same time an admittedly flawed yet unapologetic leader. He learned from his mistakes. He inspired others, and though that was accompanied by a legendary temper, he raised the bar higher for himself, those around him, and even other companies.
So as Branson writes, Jobs is relatable on a number of different levels. Not to be too dramatic, but he represents the notion that we’re all capable of greatness.
“Because the ones crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”