on 12 June, 2013

Stay Hungry Stay Foolish

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

- Jack Kerouac, On the Road

In a world full of cynics, it is very hard to find people who truly motivate you, who make you believe in the intensity of the human spirit, who make you believe that we can move mountains if we really want to. These rarities have an unflinching faith in their beliefs and they have a maddening passion for life. Even a second worth of interaction with these burning candles leaves you with a profound sense of fulfilment.

Steve Jobs was one such yellow candle. The flames of this candle died down on October 5th, 2011 but even now we seek shelter in the warmth of his afterglow.

I’ll be honest. I’ve never owned a single Apple product. Not even an iPod. I got one for my brother (it’s like oxygen to every music lover) but I never used it personally. Owning an Apple product is like being a part of an elitist club. It is a statement about who you are. These products have a personality akin to a living person. They look and feel like a niche market product but are desired universally.

On the announcement of his death, the whole world was mourning. It seemed like the world had come to a halt and there were innumerable obituaries in papers, across the blogosphere, news channels etc. You name it. I didn’t know much about that man but I was so deeply depressed that I ended spending the day making a PowerPoint presentation on him (which I never published anywhere. Stupid, I know). But such was the impact of that man.

He was a rockstar of the Silicon Valley but there was and still is more to learn from this man than just his technological breakthroughs. He re-invented the computer with Macintosh, transformed the music industry with iPod and iTunes, set a benchmark in the phone industry with the iPhone and got us hooked onto a gadget (iPad) we never thought we’ll ever need. Do I need to mention how he collaborated and arm-wrestled with Disney to build the best animation studio in the world, Pixar (creators of Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E)?

He was always at the intersection of creativity and technology. We often have this false notion that creativity is needed only in the sphere of Liberal Arts. If you have a sense of design, love sketching, writing and are poetic at heart then maybe, you are in the wrong field if you are pursuing Engineering. But, here is a man, who taught us that maybe you need that if you want to set yourself apart in a world of colour-blind tech freaks. He embraced his innate design sense and was neurotic to the point that it cost millions of dollars to Apple and Pixar.

Entrepreneurs are natural optimists. They need to be if they want to make it big and survive the backlash of reality. Steve Jobs was an embodiment of that optimism. He took it to another level. His colleagues termed it as his “Reality Distortion Field”, where he ignored the practicality of his decisions and willed them into existence by sheer intensity and desire, often at the cost of his colleagues.

He was overthrown from his own company at a young age of 30. Apple was his baby and his baby didn’t want him. But that didn’t deter him. Most people would give up hope at this point and wouldn’t dream of spawning another success. People with such high levels of productivity can never let their time go waste. He ended up nurturing another company worth billions of dollars (Pixar). As fate would have it, he re-entered the Apple fold when Apple took over NeXT, another of Steve’s babies.

Steve Jobs was never a one-hit wonder. He churned out successful products and nurtured two path-breaking companies in a short life span of 56 years. He trusted his gut and gave voice to his intuition in a corporate world where head honchos depend on analysis, market research and management mantras. They told him that’s not the way to do it. And, he turned around and showed everyone exactly how it’s done. He didn’t even have a college degree! (I guess some people don’t need it)

I admire Steve Jobs not because he was the founder of Apple. I admire him because he taught me to question the status quo. He taught me to be Me and not to be ashamed of it. He proved to me that if you love what you do, success will follow you wherever you go. He taught me that we shouldn’t settle until we find what we love. He made me believe in my instincts and he taught me to Think Different.

On days when I’m struggling for inspiration, I power up my laptop and inadvertently end up watching his Stanford commencement speech from 2005. If this doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will (Take a look)

He ended his commencement speech with a message that lingers. He said, “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.


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