By Kristine Hoang
Steve Jobs, the former co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios, is considered one of the most successful individuals of his lifetime. Born from an unwed graduate student, put up for adoption and a dropout of Reed College after just one semester, Jobs at 21 — the age he had co-founded Apple — had no idea that he would someday lead one of the most flourishing companies in the world.
Jobs’ success did not come without hardship. As a college student, Jobs had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. Resultantly he dropped out of Reed but stayed around to drop in on classes that interested him, sleeping on the floor of friends’ dorm rooms at night. It was during this time that Jobs would hone his interest in computer development and started attending meetings at Apple-co-founder Steve Wozniak’s computer hobbyists club called the “Homebrew Computer Club.”
In 1976, Apple Inc. was founded by Jobs, Wozniak and two other men in Jobs’ garage. Jobs, however, was fired from Apple in 1986, due to the divergence of his vision for Apple from that of his co-workers. It wasn’t until 1996 that Jobs would re-join Apple when Apple bought NeXT, Jobs’ struggling computer company that he started while on hiatus from Apple. From then on Jobs began re-contributing his innovative vision to the company, resulting in the production of many revolutionary gadgets like the iPod, iPhone and iPad — all of which are phenomenal in their industry.
There is a lot we can learn from Steve Jobs and his vibrant success story. In his 2005 commencement speech to Stanford University students, he shares some of his success secrets, naming intuition and failure as two of the few.
Trust Your Gut
“Follow your heart and intuition. They already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary,” Jobs said in his commencement speech. It was a gut feeling that told Jobs he wanted to sell computers. It was also a gut feeling that told him to drop out of college, an event that he would later be grateful for. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward,” Jobs explained to the graduates. “You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. 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.”
Every Experience Counts
It wasn’t a programming manual that most memorably inspired Jobs’ vision, but a calligraphy class and a trip to India. Jobs had dropped in on a calligraphy class after dropping out of Reed, which fed his fascination with typography and minimalist design. This inspiration transformed Apple’s entire typeface design. “The Mac was the first computer with beautiful typefaces,” said Jobs. Jobs credits his trip to India for stimulating his creative vision.
Be Thankful for Failure
For Jobs, getting fired from Apple was a blessing in disguise, for it helped him realize how much he loved what he did. “I’d been rejected, but I was still in love, so I decided to start over,” Jobs said.
Failure would allow him to enter one of the most creative periods of his life. It was during this time, for instance, that Jobs founded NeXt and Pixar. Though NeXt was not immensely successful, NeXt’s software would later become the basis for Apple’s products. Pixar would go on to create the world’s first computer-animated feature film, “Toy Story,” and ultimately gain the title of the world’s most successful animation studio.
“Failure was awful-tasting medicine,” Jobs expressed in his commencement speech, “but I guess the patient needed it.”
“The only great way to do good work is to love what you do,” Jobs told the Stanford graduates. He reminded them that life is too short to not pursue their passion. Take Jobs himself an example. He never stopped doing what he loved — even in times of failure. He devoted himself to his passion and just because he did, he, as Apple stated after his death, had made the world an immeasurably better place.