October 5, 2011

'Life's Change Agent' Visits Steve Jobs Too Soon

As you surely know already, Steve Jobs passed away today, and while it would be easy to say Steve just made technological gizmos, those gizmos have always been tools -- valuable, elegant tools that just work and enabled millions to do inspiring, efficient, creative work. These tools fundamentally changed the way we interact and create every day. In the following speech at Stanford, Steve called death "life’s change agent," saying it "clears out the old to make way for the new." Steve was himself a change agent, making way for the new with his life's work, but he deserved so much more time than the 56 years he was given. Below is his inspiring speech from 2005, as well as a quote that I feel applies to all creatives trying to find their way without knowing exactly where they're going:

Reed College offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. 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. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; 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.

While there are many meaningful passages in the full text of his speech, this one anecdote in particular stood out to me for some reason. We know we're going to learn something from the act of creating, even if we don't know where our work is going to take us. Just like Steve with typography. Thanks for giving us the inspiration and tools to create, Steve.

[via TechCrunch]

Your Comment

14 Comments

R.I.P Steve Jobs.

October 6, 2011 at 1:45AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Eric

RIP Steve Jobs . . !

October 6, 2011 at 1:56AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Sorely missed. Revolutionised the personal computer, film and music industries. Truly a modern day hero who's actions will live on for generations.

October 6, 2011 at 4:06AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Reading this gives me goose bumps...

October 6, 2011 at 7:38AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Garth

I will miss him he was a true inspiration http://www.youtube.com/user/shaunbless is was my dedication months ago.

October 6, 2011 at 8:35AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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RIP...dang. I hope Apple will be able to properly honor his legacy by continuing it!

October 6, 2011 at 8:50AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just 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 trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ... Stay hungry. Stay foolish." Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011 at 11:06AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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RIP Steve Jobs. It's strange that Stanford misquoted him in their text version. At the end of your selection from their page, he actually says (which I like better) :

‎"You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever—because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference." - Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011 at 11:25AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Samuel

Genius. Gave me (sold actually) the tools to do what I do. Rest in peace.

October 6, 2011 at 3:31PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Villi

I was a mac guy when it was cool, then when it wasn't cool, then when it was cool again, and now whether it is cool or not. I have a house full of Apple products I would miss dearly if I had to give them up. Thanks Steve. May those in charge of your legacy follow your philosophy.

October 6, 2011 at 4:11PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Russell Steen

I think the quote that you have chosen from Steve really gives a fantastic peak into the character of the man: a genuine innovator with huge self belief and an unwavering commitment to back his own judgement. His dedication to aesthetics and usability were a much-needed breath of fresh air in an industry largely dominated by engineering concerns.

October 6, 2011 at 6:40PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Michael

I don't use Apple products, but that didn't stop me to admire the focus and designs he came up with.... more less with other people, to be fair.
Once in a while we need some people like Steve Jobs to shake up the world and 'disrupt' our comfy same-ness of our lives. I am sad for him to pass on so early and not be able to continue to invent the future for the rest of us.

My short add-on:
"Job" opening:
anyone with a vision?

Apply nowhere, get on with your ideas and follow in his foot-steps. He has already paved the road. All you have to do is make a comitment to your ideas and follow through. Success is not assured even if you do create something cool, but you could be proud of yourself for a 'job' well done :)

October 6, 2011 at 10:07PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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producer

Well! It's always the same song : dead people were always perfect human beings (cementeries are full of essential people)

Some "little precisions on Steve Job

1/ Do not hesitate to stole other ideas of people by Steve Jobs himself
>>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU&feature=player_embedded

2/ If people try to make the same thing to you, kill them!
>>> http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9220430/Mac_clone_maker_may_take_...

3/ When in shit do not hesitate to ally the ennemy (still by Steve Jobs)
>>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxOp5mBY9IY

4/ Who's Wozniak? (ah this guy is unperfect as still alive, forget him!!!)
>>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Wozniak

5/ Stockholders hommage to Steve - 2.43%

6/ Forbes put him on the top ten of the most tyranic bosses (well we will not mention megalomaniac and cruel, attitude, obseded by secret

A genius? Yes in marketing because selling a golden and hermetic (I forgot expensive) jail to always asking buyers is surely the evidence of some devilish genius. Definitevely

R.IP

October 7, 2011 at 11:59AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Diogene

Steve wasn't iGod like some want to believe but he touched -or influenced- the lives of many, including mine.
I salute him for that!

October 9, 2011 at 6:20PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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EZwolf