Steve Jobs delivering his commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford University. In it he talks about getting fired from Apple in 1985, life & death.
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life,” says Steve Jobs. From the day he was born in San Francisco, California to an American mother and a Syrian father on February 24, 1955, Steven Paul Jobs has been blazing his own path. As the CEO of Apple Computer and CEO and Chairman of Pixar, Jobs is today recognized as one of the top leaders and visionaries of both the computer and entertainment industries and is worth an estimated $5 billion.
Jobs was given up for adoption just one week after his birth. He was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs and the new family settled in Santa Clara County, California.
Jobs spent his free time attending lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto. He became a familiar face there and was soon hired as a summer student. It was here at the age of 13 where Jobs would meet his future Apple co-founder, Stephen Wozniak, who was also working as a summer employee. After striking up a friendship, Jobs began to help Wozniak market and sell his latest invention – an illegal device that could be attached to telephones to allow users to make free long-distance calls.
After graduating from high school in 1972, Jobs registered at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, but found he had little interest in pursuing a degree. He dropped out after just one semester, but continued to attend classes in philosophy, physics, and literature for another year.
He also began working as a technician for Atari, a company that manufactured popular video games.Working at Atari allowed Jobs the chance to save enough money for a spiritual retreat to India, where he went along with Daniel Kottke, a friend from Reed College and later, the first Apple employee. Upon his return, Jobs went back to work at Atari, but this time was in charge of creating a circuit board for the game Breakout. Atari had offered a $100 bonus for each chip that could be reduced in the machine. With little knowledge of circuit boards, Jobs made a deal with Wozniak to work together and split whatever bonus they got. Wozniak reduced the chips by 50, surprising both Atari and Jobs himself. The design proved to be so tight in fact that the circuit board was impossible to reproduce on the assembly line.
This experience at Atari proved to be the beginning of a long business relationship between Jobs and Wozniak that would soon spark one of the most successful and revolutionary companies of the 20th century.
While the 26-year-old Wozniak was content with his computer hobbyist group, the 21-year-old Jobs had a greater vision for the future. After seeing a computer that Wozniak had designed for himself, Jobs began to think about the marketability of such products. He convinced Wozniak to leave his job at Hewlett Packard and together the two began working on constructing a personal computer. Jobs’ passion and Wozniak’s engineering talent would soon combine to become a revolutionizing force in the computer industry.
Working out of Jobs’ bedroom, the duo designed the Apple I, and later moved to Jobs’ garage to build the prototype. In order to raise the money they needed to finance their company, Jobs sold his Volkswagen van while Wozniak sold his programmable calculator. With $1,300 in capital, the pair created Apple Company and within weeks, they were taking orders.
Jobs had secured the company’s first sale of 50 Apple I computers for a price of $666 each. The success of Apple I led the pair to design a successor, the Apple II. With a sleeker design, a disk drive, an open system and a new plastic casing that featured the Apple logo, the Apple II achieved even greater success. Within just three years, Apple Computer had experienced a growth of 700%. In December 1980, the company became a publicly traded corporation and Jobs’ stature continued to grow.
Competition from IBM soon began to threaten Apple’s position on top of the market. The release of Apple III did not come with the similar success that its predecessors had, nor did the release of Lisa. Apple II had numerous design flaws while Lisa was too expensive and thus was not commercially successful. In order to maintain its competitive edge, Jobs decided to convince then-President and CEO of Pepsi John Scully to become Apple’s CEO.
In 1984, Apple introduced the Macintosh, which became the first commercially successful computer with a graphic interface. Over 400,000 Macs were sold in its first year of production. But, while the company was experiencing success, an internal power struggle was also taking place. In 1985, Wozniak left the company and Jobs was stripped of his duties by the board of directors. Jobs resigned in protest, but that would not be the end of him.
Jobs went on to found NeXT Computer, a company that focused on educational computing. While its workstation was technologically advanced, it proved to be too expensive to gain widespread appeal. But, NeXT did experience modest success in the scientific and academic fields, developing such products as the DSP chip and the built-in Ethernet port. In 1986, Jobs also purchased Lucasfilm’s computer graphics division for $10 million and created Pixar, a new computer animation company that has since partnered with Disney to create such hit films as Toy Story and Finding Nemo.
In 1996, NeXT was bought by Apple for $204 million and Jobs was brought back on as an interim CEO of the company he had originally founded. As CEO of Apple once again, Jobs cut a number of projects that he saw as being useless and began to turn his attention to the iMac. Since the iMac was introduced in 1998, Apple has seen its sales rise significantly. The company continued to branch out with such successful products as the iPod and iTunes. Apple currently has 14,800 employees and grosses over $17 billion in revenues.
In 2005, The Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar for $7.4 billion making Jobs Disney’s largest single shareholder with 7% of the company’s stock. While his aggressive personality and demanding management style have often been criticized, Jobs is undoubtedly a visionary, who turned his dreams for the personal computer into a billion dollar enterprise.
Success Electron #1: Connect the Dots
“You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future,” says Jobs. “You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Jobs believes that everything happens for a reason and although that reason may be hard to see at the time, sometimes you need to just sit back and have faith that things will work out in the end. Trusting your own decisions is often one of the most difficult but necessary and rewarding experiences.
Dropping out of university allowed Jobs to stop taking the required courses and begin attending ones that he found more interesting. One of these was a calligraphy instruction class, where Jobs learned about serif and san serif typefaces, spacing between different letter combinations and about how to make beautiful typography. Jobs didn’t understand at the time how this might be helpful, but he decided to follow his interests nonetheless.
Ten years later, when Jobs and Wozniak were designing the first Macintosh computer, he remembered his calligraphy lessons. He decided to incorporate the fonts he had learned about into the Mac. “It was the first computer with beautiful typography,” says Jobs. “If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.” While it was impossible to connect the dots at the time, in hindsight, Jobs says that everything became clear.
Success Electron #2: Don't Settle
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do,” says Jobs. “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
Despite being worth $4.4 billion, Jobs said he never once chose his career path for the money. “I was worth about over a million dollars when I was twenty-three and over ten million dollars when I was twenty-four, and over a hundred million dollars when I was twenty-five and it wasn't that important because I never did it for the money,” he says. “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful, that's what matters to me.”
Jobs is now living his dream life. Instead of retiring into the lap of luxury, he continues to work on a daily basis, to experiment and to innovate. He admits that the only thing that keeps him coming to work every day is his passion. “We used to dream about this stuff. Now, we get to build it,” he says. “It's pretty neat.”
To other entrepreneurs who are struggling to find their way and stay motivated, Jobs has this advice: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do…As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.”
Success Electron #3: Seize the Day
When Jobs was 17 years old, he read a quote that would stay with him forever: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.” Since then, he has looked himself in the mirror every morning and asked himself whether or not he would do the same thing that day if it were his last day alive. “Whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something,” he says.