It was yesterday at 8:30 pm when I heard the words “Steve Jobs is dead”. I sat in silence for a few moments, realizing that arguably our generation’s greatest business mind had quietly passed away. Whether you love Apple products or not, Steve Jobs was admirable for his passion and business savvy. His reach wasn’t limited to just tech geeks, but had mass appeal because of his charisma and ability to make technology easy to understand.
His famous Stanford Commencement Address truly inspired me and humanized him, revealing a person who wasn’t the arrogant, temperamental CEO I’d read stories about. Everyone loves underdogs and you can’t help but root for Jobs after hearing his story.
He was put up for adoption by his young, unwed mother who was still a college student. She felt he’d benefit from college graduates as parents but unfortunately there weren’t any who wanted a child born under those circumstances. He was adopted instead by a couple who hadn’t completed college, but promised to put him through school.
Ironically, when Jobs went to college he didn’t see the value in it. He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life and he didn’t want to spend his parents’ savings doing it. He still had a passion for learning, however, so he started dropping in to classes that he found interesting, sleeping on the floors of his friends’ rooms, and paying for food by returning empty pop cans for the deposit. He even walked 7 miles across town every Sunday to get a good meal at the Hare Krishna temple.
“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.”
Reed College had the best calligraphy program in the United States at the time, and Jobs just so happened to take the class because he was fascinated by it. Ten years later he revolutionized the personal computer by ensuring that the Mac was the first computer to have beautiful typography and multiple fonts. This would be the beginning of a string of hits that Jobs would be responsible for at Apple.
This idea about connecting the dots looking backward really struck a chord with me. I had no idea that a series of decisions I’d made (or were made for me) in my own life would have the impact that they did. Even the company that I started with my friend Amit was the result of past decisions.