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I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing that ever interfered with my learning was my education. I am Freeman Dyson, and I approve of this blog, but would warn the author that life as a heretic is a hard one, since the ignorant and the half informed, let alone those who should know better, will automatically trash their betters who try to enlighten them with independent thinking, as I have found to my sorrow in commenting on "global warming" and its cures.
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Steve Jobs Debate: Helped or Hurt by New Medicine?

October 23rd, 2011

One time hippie acidhead said to have regretted delay in surgery

Prize conformist Walter Isaacson leads in owning Jobs story from inside vantage point

Sixty Minutes interview sketches outline of Jobs’ fate but more data needed

There is something predictable about the way journalists and people with an axe to grind on an issue glom onto the story of an individual hero’s life and death to confirm and promote their own cliched preconceptions, rather than seek the balanced truth.

On the questions surrounding Steve Jobs’ early departure from his very successful life, for instance, we have conventional doctors who are making him an example of someone who ruined his chances by avoiding their always ultimately hopeless ministrations for nine months versus those who appreciate the hitherto neglected but increasingly apparent advantages of nutritional weapons against cancer.

Steve Jobs Bad Boy

Among journalists, on the other hand, there is general agreement that Steve Jobs had a dark side which involved holding those he found lacking to account rather mercilessly, even in public. He typically tonguelashed them for not trying hard or long enough to meet the standards he set, it seems, when in fact they might have been trying very hard and despite themselves were simply not up to speed in skill or mental energy, or had other reasons not to have matched Jobs’ expectations.

But did Jobs’ have a mean streak? We doubt that, even though Steve Jobs didn’t suffer fools gladly. Was it because he wanted to frighten or hurt the objects of his wrath? Surely not. We’d guess he was actually respecting them by treating them as equals, speaking his mind honestly and indignantly, if far too forcefully for timid underlings.

Surely Jobs was too busy chasing the hare of actual achievement to indulge in power plays, particularly cruel ones. One of his most charming quotes has him saying after his first successful IPO for Apple, “I went from not caring about money and being poor to not caring about money and being rich.” Jobs’ visions were founded in reality not fantasy, and he took no pleasure in trappings.

We imagine that on the emotional level he probably couldn’t understand why they couldn’t get with the program, when he was devoting his life to it. It must be hard for a strong minded obsessive to realize that others might be very smart too and have great love and loyalty for him, but still not always be able to produce the goods demanded.

It must be doubly difficult for someone with abandonment issues, as so many detect in Jobs history and behavior, to be a temperate leader, and not see others failing him as abandonment in a life which was marked by other huge abandonments, most significantly after his adoption when Apple cut him loose in in the middle of producing the Lisa, but also his own perpetrated on his girlfriend when she got pregnant. He would be too deeply channeled into leftover infantile rage, would he not? And many ask if Apple would have ever be pulled back from ruin without his slave driving whip.

Noblesse oblige, please, Steve, for sure, but we don’t join the chorus who say you had a cruel streak, however devastating your tongue might have been to gentler souls.

Steve Jobs inventor par excellence

In the same line we also have tired of the incessant mantra of “genius” invoked in every contemplation of Jobs’ savvy of how to turn tangled techware into universal love toy. It was uniquely clever market ball gazing, but as Janet Maslin noted in the Times, it ain’t special relativity. It was invention of a high order typically drawing on ideas which others had left lying around for someone smart and purposeful to use, allied to a very sensible disregard for authority and convention in dreaming up the new and unique.

We believe that Jobs’ main secrets were a) his early intake of LSD, which seems to blast the cobwebs of convention out of the minds of all who try it, if they don’t kill themselves jumping out of a window to fly to the moon, and b) the Syrian carpet salesman gene he must have inherited from his father, who Jobs seems to have taken against for his later abandoning his (Jobs’) natural mother and her daughter, who turned out to be a respected novelist (Mona Simpson).

These factors – liberation from the unconscious authority of convention and the desire to sell to the whole world what he made – are what led to Jobs having the innate sense to try and make ideal products, good looking and usable, instead of the best effort successes made by ordinary tech mortals, and put these objets d’art-tech in the hands of consumers who had no previous idea they wanted them, until they saw their beauty and their simplicity with their own eyes and caressed it hands on.

How could a smart man be so dumb?

Be that as it may (and possibly none of the business of this researched based scientific blog), what of the strange partial record now available of the cause of his death?

With his biography of Steve Jobs hot off the presses tomorrow Walter Isaacson, biographer of Franklin and Einstein, and president of the Aspen Institute talkfest, is the current go to source on all things Jobsian.

He is peddling (as interviewed tonight on 60 Minutes) a fairly standard though well phrased and very full account of the way Jobs lived and behaved and why, one which doesn’t seem from tonight’s interview to vary much from the fairly mundane cliches of all the recent obituaries on Jobs in the New York Times, Time, New Yorker etc, though it does have the direct authority of the forty interviews Isaacson carried out wherein Jobs evidently spoke freely.

Isaacson witness to Steve Job’s surrender to docs

But his chosen biographer is more of a transcriber and reporter than deep thinker, it seems. As his Aspen Institute role indicates Walter Isaacson is a paid up member of the professional publishing elite as much as a mere author (he is also an ex-head of CNN and ex-managing editor of Time), and he has an amiable crowd pleasing mentality who has surely done a workmanlike job of knitting together all he finds out from not only from Jobs but exgirlfriends, employees, and rivals, but how deeply informative and insightful is his job going to be?.

He doesn’t seem to be the type who might have evoked a deep and sympathetic discussion with Jobs of any unconventional notions in medicine he might have tried. Instead Isaacson seems likely to have been an extension of all the family friends and colleagues who are now revealed to have put great pressure on Jobs to go the conventional route back to health as fast as possible, despite the familiarity he must have worked up in forty interviews listening to Jobs reminisce up till nearly his end.

We say that as a preamble to one key fact which has emerged which is that Isaacson is reporting in his book that Jobs avoided surgery at first for nine months in favor of treating his ailments with some kind of nutritional approaches and later said he regretted the delay in performing surgery to excise his pancreative cancer.

Sixty Minutes features Jobs on tape

This emerged tonight in the interview Isaacson gave Sixty Minutes tonight (Sun Oct 23) to promote what is surely going to be a blockbuster best seller. It follows the Times review of his book on Friday, headed as Making the iBio for Apple’s Genius, by Janet Maslin, who told us that Isaacson suggests that the cancer might have been better treated by earlier surgery:

“Of course the book also tracks Mr. Jobs’s long and combative rivalry with Bill Gates. The section devoted to Mr. Jobs’s illness, which suggests that his cancer might have been more treatable had he not resisted early surgery, describes the relative tenderness of their last meeting.”

That’s apparently what Isaacson concluded from what Jobs told him.

Now in the 60 Minutes interview voiceover Steve Kroft states that “the cancer which eventually killed him was discovered accidentally when he was checked in 2004 for kidney stones. The CAT scan showed a shadow in his pancreas which turned out to be malignant. ”

Isaacson says “they did the biopsy and it was very emotional but that turned out to be good actually they said it was a slow growing cancer one of the 5% of pancreatic cancers that can be cured. But he didn’t do it straight away. He tried to treat it with diet and he goes to a spiritualist. He goes to various ways of doing it macrobiotically and he doesn’t get an operation.”

“Why didn’t he get an operation straightway?” asks Steve Kroft.

“I asked him that and he told me “I didn’t want my body to be opened.” And soon everybody was telling him to quit trying to treat it with all these roots and vegetables and just get operated on. But he does it nine months later,” replies Isaacson with a slight grimace at the unfortunate mistake Jobs made.

“Too late?” asks Steve Kroft.

“Well I assume it’s too late because by the time it was operated on it had spread to the tissues around the pancreas.”

Was Jobs a fool for avoiding surgery?

“How could such a smart man do such a stupid thing?” asks Steve Kroft.

The answer, for Isaacson, is that Jobs believed too much in “magical thinking”:

“You know I think he kind of felt that if you ignore something if you don’t want something to exist you can have magical thinking. And it had worked for him in the past. He regretted some of the decisions he made and certainly he felt that he should have been operated on sooner.”

Clearly Isaacson has not the first clue that mainstream research is now continually justifying trying phytochemicals on cancers of all kinds including pancreatic, rather than going the conventional route, especially in pancreatic cancer, which is 95% fatal in nine months or less.

The voice over commentary by Steve Kroft goes on to say “Jobs continued to have cancer treatments even though he was telling everyone he had been cured. And that is what people believed until 2008.”

“All of a sudden” says Isaacson “people are gasping because he looks so frail and has lost so much weight. Suddenly people are realizing that he is very sick again. He denies it publicly. He puts out things that there is a hormonal imbalance which has a tiny kernel of truth to it because his liver was secreting the wrong hormones but it wasn’t just a hormonal imbalance it was that the cancer had gone to his liver. He was trying to deny it to himself and he was denying it to the public and this was a (business) problem of course.”

Steve Kroft goes on to note that Jobs finally took a leave of absence and in March of 2009 received a secret liver transplant in Memphis that wasn’t publicly acknowledged until three months later. “The doctors that did the operation could tell the cancer had spread.”

Isaacson says the last two and a half years were “a painful, brutal struggle and he would talk often to me about the pain.”

Given that his liver was a transplant after the first one was ruined by years of chemotherapy, and his immune system was switched off by immune suppressing drugs after that transplant, and that his pancreas was damaged, so his whole digestive system could hardly handle protein, it is painful to contemplate what Jobs must have gone through.

Steve Kroft ended this topic of discussion with these final lines before moving on: “Jobs survived nearly eight years with his cancer and in his final meeting with Isaacson in mid August still held out hope that there might be one new drug that could save him.”

Times’ earlier hints

That’s the last of the 60 Minutes material on Jobs’ illness and its treatment. A couple more points may be gleaned from the Steve Lohr Times piece on Friday based on their advance look at the book, however.

This is Jobs Tried Exotic Treatments to Combat Cancer, Book Says The subhead is “Steve Jobs’s early decision to put off surgery and rely on less conventional treatments angered and upset his family”.

Steve Lohr’s report centers on the news that Jobs’ attempt to use alternative nutritional treatment for his supposedly safer and slower moving version of the normal quickly fatal pancreatic cancer ran into heavy disapproval from his friends and colleagues, who mounted a continual barrage of advice to stop that nonsense (spelled “nonscience”) and undertake standard surgery and chemo sooner rather than later.

Both sides were presumably under-informed of the latest mainstream research on phytochemicals, even though Jobs is said to have researched the conventional techniques of intervention very intensively once he took them up, about nine months after his diagnosis, when he opted for surgery.

In the mind of mainstream medical science congregationist Timesman Steve the choice was evidently one between “exotic diets” and “cutting-edge treatments”, which betrays a fairly universal bias in medical reporting against alternatives in medicine and surgery, one very misleading to readers.

In his last years, Steven P. Jobs veered from exotic diets to cutting-edge treatments as he fought the cancer that ultimately took his life, according to a new biography to be published on Monday.

His early decision to put off surgery and rely instead on fruit juices, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments — some of which he found on the Internet — infuriated and distressed his family, friends and physicians, the book says. From the time of his first diagnosis in October 2003, until he received surgery in July 2004, he kept his condition largely private — secret from Apple employees, executives and shareholders, who were misled….

He paid $100,000 for instance to have not only his genes sequenced but the genes of his cancer.

Although the broad outlines of Mr. Jobs’s struggle with pancreatic cancer are known, the new biography, by Walter Isaacson, offers new insight and details. Friends, family members and physicians spoke to Mr. Isaacson openly about Mr. Jobs’s illness and his shifting strategy for managing it. According to Mr. Isaacson, Mr. Jobs was one of 20 people in the world to have all the genes of his cancer tumor and his normal DNA sequenced. The price tag at the time: $100,000.

DNA sequencing to combat cancer to help target drugs? In this and other ways the piece suggests that misinformation and misunderstanding were rife in the thinking of Jobs and his advisers. Apparently none of them had ever heard of PubMed, let alone used it:

In October 2003, Mr. Jobs got the news about his cancer, which was detected by a CT scan. One of his first calls, according to the book, was to Larry Brilliant, a physician and epidemiologist, who would later become the head of Google’s philanthropic arm. The men went way back, having first met at an ashram in India.

“Do you still believe in God?” Mr. Jobs asked.

Mr. Brilliant spoke for a while about religion and different paths to belief, and then asked Mr. Jobs what was wrong. “I have cancer,” Mr. Jobs replied.

Mr. Jobs put off surgery for nine months, a fact first reported in 2008 in Fortune magazine.

The power of underinformed pressure

The pressure on Jobs from family and friends was unrelenting, it is clear. As usual, all those with unresearched faith in conventional medical treatment who had themselves fallen into its hands were utterly convinced of the futility of evading its clutches:

Friends and family, including his sister, Mona Simpson, urged Mr. Jobs to have surgery and chemotherapy, Mr. Isaacson writes. But Mr. Jobs delayed the medical treatment. His friend and mentor, Andrew Grove, the former head of Intel, who had overcome prostate cancer, told Mr. Jobs that diets and acupuncture were not a cure for his cancer. “I told him he was crazy,” he said.

Art Levinson, a member of Apple’s board and chairman of Genentech, recalled that he pleaded with Mr. Jobs and was frustrated that he could not persuade him to have surgery.

His wife, Laurene Powell, recalled those days, after the cancer diagnosis. “The big thing was that he really was not ready to open his body,” she said. “It’s hard to push someone to do that.” She did try, however, Mr. Isaacson writes. “The body exists to serve the spirit,” she argued.

When he did take the path of surgery and science, Mr. Jobs did so with passion and curiosity, sparing no expense, pushing the frontiers of new treatments. According to Mr. Isaacson, once Mr. Jobs decided on the surgery and medical science, he became an expert — studying, guiding and deciding on each treatment. Mr. Isaacson said Mr. Jobs made the final decision on each new treatment regimen.

The DNA sequencing that Mr. Jobs ultimately went through was done by a collaboration of teams at Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Harvard and the Broad Institute of MIT. The sequencing, Mr. Isaacson writes, allowed doctors to tailor drugs and target them to the defective molecular pathways.

A doctor told Mr. Jobs that the pioneering treatments of the kind he was undergoing would soon make most types of cancer a manageable chronic disease. Later, Mr. Jobs told Mr. Isaacson that he was either going to be one of the first “to outrun a cancer like this” or be among the last “to die from it.”

That is all we learn from the Times so far. Notice the implied definition of alternative treatment as nonscience that Steve Lohr slips in:

“When he did take the path of surgery and science, Mr. Jobs did so with passion and curiosity, sparing no expense, pushing the frontiers of new treatments. According to Mr. Isaacson, once Mr. Jobs decided on the surgery and medical science…..”

Was Jobs ever told of recent pancreatic cancer research?

So did Jobs ever learn of the simple edible and non toxic antidotes which the latest mainstream research points to?

All we know is that a knowledgeable colleague forwarded a piece on the topic, a column on mainstream studies of the potential of phytochemicals in medicine and in particular pancreatic cancer, to a family member who happened to be a photograph gallery owner who knew Jobs through selling him hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Ansel Adams and other prints, but never heard of any response to that overture. The column was forwarded in email and not marked up in red pencil which would have been ideal, so whether Jobs actually noticed the section referring to his specific ailment is unknown, since it was buried at the end of the piece.

More info needed for further analysis

Unfortunately therefore the discussion so far has to rest on speculation, but we are obtaining a copy of the book to see what more can be gleaned from Isaacson about how Jobs handled his treatment, secretive though he may have been.

In that further discussion we can review the prime specimen of establishment rationalization posted by a junior member of the Harvard Faculty on Quora, which blames alternative medicine as responsible for Jobs not getting ideal treatment.

However, the Quora piece is rife with what look to us to be logical inconsistencies so we look forward to deconstructing it and then summarizing what the universally neglected mounting current lab research on cells and mice has to offer on the topic of whether it could have saved Jobs from surgery, chemo and eventual death.

Steve Jobs, poster boy heretic, dies prematurely

October 7th, 2011

World changer, but his personal aim was simple

Make consumer tech beautiful and user friendly – and flawless

Alone amid the mediocrity of tech marketing, he led towards the future

Let’s hope that he wasn’t despatched early by medical myopia

steve_jobs young replace 592x1024Supersalesman and tech market seer Steve Jobs is, sadly and predictably, dead from pancreatic cancer, as long expected. Kept alive for seven years by the barbaric techniques of modern medicine when faced with a particularly difficult form of cancer – surgery, poison and eventually a liver transplant – he finally died under the assault. Let’s hope that the alternative that is increasingly pointed to by recent decades of stunningly promising research into how phytochemicals – plant chemicals – aid the body in fighting off cancer was not neglected by his doubtless expensive medical consultants.

Did Jobs benefit from phytochemicals?

One might expect it probably was, of course. Awakening the medical profession to what may be the most important modern trend in medicine – how a range of chemicals extracted from food have proven especially over the last five years to be strongly effective against human cancer cells in the lab and in mice – is proving an uphill battle, even though a flood of research has appeared in mainstream peer reviewed journals in the last ten years.

Perhaps, however, it wasn’t . Perhaps Steve Jobs was helped by his own core character as instinctive heretic, if not also by good advice from his wife and other people who can be wiser than the professionals. We understand that Jobs was interested in alternative medicine, and did take advantage of what some Chinese herbalists had to offer. This may have helped keep him alive far beyond the three to six months his doctors originally forecast that he had left of life when he was diagnosed. Luckily, it was a rare kind of pancreatic cancer which forms about five per cent of the cases of this terrible killer, one which responds to surgery. Surviving seven years is evidence that he benefited from good treatment, though, as well as luck.

The great heretic, flipping the world of personal tech into art

It’s not surprising if Jobs was one of the few to take a look at what alternative medicine might have to offer him when he fell sick. After all, Jobs spent his life trying to move beyond the norm, forcing the merely talented to craft the ideal consumer tool from the geek idea of computers as digital engineering incarnated. He made ugly and unreliable products user friendly, beautiful to look at and reliably useful in ways which seem beyond the engineering and technical talent to concieve, for some reason. Even the marketing arm of computer companies seemed to think of this aspect only after Jobs led the way, and only Sony and eventually HP seemed able to compete in looks, though, saddled as they are with Bill Gates’ atrocious mishmash of an operating system, never caught up to Jobs in the realm of reliable and easy use.

Why was this range of virtues mysteriously beyond the leaders of other technology companies and their marketing people before Jobs showed the way, and even after he did so? The source of this odd design blindness to what now seems so obvious remains a bit of a mystery, but it must reside somewhere in the blocked mental arteries of of the group mind. Jobs thought for himself, on behalf of the average user. People who think in group terms cannot think independently very well, it seems.

So it wasn’t surprising to hear Jobs at the 2005 Commencement at Stanford where he gave the address saying the following:

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.

Jobs was not a genius in mind but in action

What kind of genius did this man have who changed the personal world of, ultimately, billions of people? The questions which Jobs asked were not after all rocket science. We remember ourselves asking them in print and on the Web as early as the mid nineties. Why shouldn’t computers be easy to use? Why shouldn’t they be reliable and easy to tinker with? Why shouldn’t their cases be colorful, chic and even simply beautiful in the manner desired, consciously or not, by all sane people, and most especially by women?

These are not difficult questions to pose and Steve Jobs was not a genius for asking them. What was unique was his strength of purpose in bringing them about. Like all pioneers and visionaries who try to move the mass of conventional me-too thought in any arena, he faced a great edifice of inertia born of lazy thinking, self-interest and the frequent assumption in a complex field that if consumers didn’t know better or demand better then there wasn’t any point in exerting oneself in one’s job to take the initiative and create something more attractive and usable. The problem is not only complacency but that most of us are sheep frightened by and antagonistic to change, which is a threat to established comfort.

Jobs knew how to put himself in the place of the buyer and work out what that buyer might grow fond of without that buyer telling him or even knowing what it was that he would learn to like, once he experienced it. Jobs spurned focus groups for that reason. He liked to say that “it is not the job of the consumer to tell us what he wants. He doesn’t know until he sees it.”

Or as Jobs explained to Fortune, as quoted by James Stewart in his fine Times piece today, How Jobs Put Passion Into Products:

Mr. Jobs made no secret of his focus on design; in a Jan. 24, 2000, interview, Fortune magazine asked if it was an “obsession” and whether it was “an inborn instinct or what?”

“We don’t have good language to talk about this kind of thing,” Mr. Jobs replied. “In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. The iMac is not just the color or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element plays together. … That is the furthest thing from veneer. It was at the core of the product the day we started. This is what customers pay us for — to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use our computers. We’re supposed to be really good at this. That doesn’t mean we don’t listen to customers, but it’s hard for them to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.”

Jobs the supreme heretic

The trait that you believe you know exactly what the world needs and wants is of course is shared by many crackpot inventors who are sure they know what the world needs, even if they show no sign of wanting it when offered, so it was truly Jobs genius to be correct in his forecasts, especially, for instance, we think, in dreaming up a product such as the iPad when Microsoft’s clunky tablet computers had failed so dismally six or seven years earlier. Jobs must surely have recognised the future of the iPad notion once he encountered the touch screen, which makes all the difference. But why didn’t others? Incidentally, the capacitive touch screen was invented at CERN in 1976, and that home of the LHC also boasts that it was where Tim Berners Lee invented the Web – on a NeXT screen!

In fact there is a video that Apple produced in 1987 that shows that even then Jobs was mapping out a path to the iPhone, the iPad, and Siri, the voice activated personal assistant which is making a hit on the latest iPhone 4. It is quite remarkable to see how early Jobs envisaged what he brought about later.

The originator who could lead

Steve Jobs was a man who not only followed his own star, but brought the world along with him into a new era where the resources of the Web could be as portable as an iPhone. To us he is the epitome of the maverick, the heretic, the originator who comes up with something new because he has freed himself of the chains of group think.

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.

What was truly marvelous though was the fact that he could combine all the roles needed – not only the independent minded visionary, but the team player who could lead a talented group to win the marketing world series without losing sight of his personal dream.

Here is the whole of that speech which he gave at the Commencement at Stanford in 2005:

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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.
Stanford Report, June 14, 2005
‘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.
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html


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