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Remembering Steve


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As the world pays tribute to a visionary, and the man behind iconic products of our generation, let us reflect on some of his famous words. From Stanford University’s website, I have copied the text of Jobs’ commencement address back in 2005. It gives us a clear look into how the man viewed life and death. Highlighted are my favorite lines.

‘You’ve got to find what you love,’ Jobs says

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time 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.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. 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 company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology 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 would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’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 years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

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.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to 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 to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several 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 the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have 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 much.


I am a newbie in the Steve Jobs’ world, having been an iPad owner for a year, and iPhone4 owner for much less time. I am a Windows-User, but an Apple-fan (you all know of our dearly departed dog called iPod right?). I can see more Apple products in my future. I appreciate the innovations that Jobs and his colleagues have brought us. And reading his words from this speech, hearing what so many others have to say about him, I know now that I am his fan.

Thank you Steve Jobs, your life is being celebrated all over the world. You have cheated death, because your memory lives on thru Apple. If I can accomplish just a fraction of what you have done that impacts the world, I will also die fulfilled.

Jenni Epperson also has  a nice collection of Steve Jobs’ quotes on her blog.

Pedring and Quiel

Just as Typhoons Ondoy and Peping wreaked havoc in the Philippines two years ago, Pedring and Quiel came one after the other last week to do another round of damage.

Unlike Ondoy though, our place wasn’t heavily affected. Yes, we had floods, but not as bad as that nightmare of 2009. A few days after leaving the country though, Pedring still continues to make lives of countless Pinoys a living hell.

Many areas are still flooded. Hundreds of families have no safe and dry homes to go to. They are cold, wet, and hungry. Hundreds of babies are in need of milk. Some communities are cut off from aid because bridges have been destroyed or roads blocked by landslides. There’s not enough rubber boats to get to where the people are.

Although Ondoy left us with lessons and perhaps we already are somehow better prepared for disasters, it is once again proven that we haven’t truly mastered disaster preparedness. What’s worse, this lack in direction for what to do with babies in evacuation centers needing milk just show how government has yet to prioritize the special needs of children in times of disasters. I understand, hindi naman talaga inaasahan. Who knew that the land was so saturated with water that it can hold no more? Who knew the floods would be that bad? But the whole point of disaster preparedness is preparing for the worst.

Hindi man tayo maging handa kaagad-agad, sana man lang mas mabilis na natin na-momobilize ang resources at tulong pag nandyan na ang sakuna.

Watching the news the other day, Dad and I couldn’t help but exchange comments on how disgusted we were about the inefficiency and inadequacy of service. Hay. The death toll during the actual typhoon wasn’t much, hihintayin pa bang madagdagan in the aftermath?

But whining won’t do anyone any good. So to re-channel my energies, here’s some info on where you could send help for the victims of September’s latest pasabog:

  • The Philippine Red Cross:
  • The Angel Brigade: (if you don’t have the money to donate, but have the time to help packing, then join the Angel Brigade)
  • ABS-CBN Foundation’s Sagip Kapamilya – they are accepting donations at the Pinoy Big Brother Concert Hall. You may reach them at (02) 411-4995 for necessary arrangements

I’m sure there are many more groups accepting donations, these are just a few I would trust with whatever little I can donate. If the Angel Brigade still needs helping hands this weekend, I’m hoping the boyfriend and I can go get involved.

Lastly, I just really wanted to take a minute to thank the Universe for sparing my family from any harm this season. I don’t always verbally say thanks for every little blessing, but I am always grateful and appreciative.

Champion for Children

I finally did it – I am officially a UNICEF Champion for Children! I’ve been thinking of making the monthly commitment to support their projects but it took so long before making a move towards it. Perhaps the hesitation came from wanting to donate time and talents rather than sending a check monthly. Since I still haven’t found the right opportunities to work with children in need, being a UNICEF Champion for Children would suffice for now.

Sent an email to them a few days ago inquiring about being one, and I received a prompt response. I didn’t get to sign up right away, but after watching DaphneOP’s video of her recent trip, I just had to.

Check it out and be moved too.


Donate to UNICEF!

I thought carefully before posting about making the pledge or not. But I wanted to share this video, and it seemed relevant to proudly say that I am again working with UNICEF, albeit in a different capacity than I used to.

And speaking of UNICEF, remember this photo? It’s from my  I Love UNICEF post.

Pencil Project

Thanks to Czaroma, I learned of this project that aims to bring pencils for indigent students.


I know nothing about Hotel with Heart, but I am hoping that they follow through with their claim and they really donate pencils to DTC’s Kariton Klasrum.

Go checkout their FB page and lend your digital signature in exchange for a donation of pencils.

I just remembered Nortehanon and her Pens of Hope. I should check back with her and find out if she’s accepting donations again for this school year.

UNICEF Auction for Action

I would love to say that I put in a bid in any one of the lots in UNICEF’s Auction for Action, but I have not. The current bids are all beyond me at this point. So if I can’t help UNICEF by winning a bid, I’ll do so by spreading the word.

UNICEF auction

There are only 3 days left before the auction closes. All the items were donated by the artists, so all proceeds from the sales of these pieces will fund UNICEF projects. All of it. The curator is Urbanista Daphne Oseña-Paez so you can be assured that all the pieces in this auction were chosen in very good taste.

It would have been wonderful to score a modern cocktail table while knowing that the very amount you spent for it is going to a good cause. Here’s one from the lot:


It’s a coffee table, with the view from above, minus the round glass top. Photo linked to the auction page.

But if I had the money, I would have really loved to bid on this chair:


It really looks quite comfortable. And cool.

Here’s another favorite from the lot, Tweet lamps!


Aren’t they cute? They are up for bid separately but look gorgeous as a group.

But if I were to pick one piece that really spoke of UNICEF’s work, or a piece that would speak to the young kids that UNICEF help, it would be the work of Michael Cacnio:


Children in difficult circumstances dream of a home. A small simple house up in the trees would do, as long as it is safe and they have family. The child flying a kite is a representation of a happy child. So yes, this piece speaks to me of the work of UNICEF. Whoever wins the bid, should donate the piece back for display in the UNICEF offices. Smile

As for me, I will sit back and keep looking at all the pretty things up for auction. And I will also continue to pray for its success. After all, more money raised from this effort, means more Filipino children finding hope in these bleak times.

As for my dreams of owning beautiful art pieces, and artsy furniture. Oh well, that can wait. If I were to buy any piece of furniture at this point, it probably should be like this 1001 console table, more function than style.

Go on and head over to EBAY.PH and bid on the lots for UNICEF Auction for Action!

UNICEF action

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