Steve Jobs tells “how to live before you die”

In June 2005, Steve Jobs delivered the commencement address at Stanford. It was a talk where he promised to tell “only three stories about my life. No big deal. Just three stories…” In these three stories, he encompasses formative moments that helped make him what he is and he outlines several notions these recent graduates would do well to remember. They include:

Find what you love.

“You’ve got to find what you love. 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.”

Live each day as if it were your last.

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was you’re last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I’ve looked in the mirror every day 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 is “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 all 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.

“No one wants to die. 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’s 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’s 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 other’s 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.”

It’s a very good speech, and I recommend you watch it:

    7 Lessons from the 4th of July

    A couple of days early, admittedly, but well worth the read. In this brief article, Edward Klink, senior editor of Horsesmouth, a company dedicated to helping financial advisors be more successful, looks at seven lessons to be learned from The American Revolution.

    Trying to summarize his thoughts would simply cheapen the experience. Instead, I encourage you to download and read it for yourself.

    Happy Birthday, America!

    [Read 7 Lessons from the 4th of July]

    Creativity Still Matters

    Video cameras have become totally ubiquitous (I think that’s redundant, but it does serve to make the point.) Not only are tiny video recorders like the Flip and Kodak zi8 the new norm, more and more smartphones have the ability to record video, most of them much better than you would imagine.

    So with all of this ability to record events literally at our fingertips, it should come as no surprise that we’re drowning in lots and lots of really bad recordings. Spend any five free minutes on YouTube and you’ll agree.

    In my opinion, all of this crap desensitizes us so much that it’s easy to become overwhelmed when you see something that is really, really good. And the difference, I think, is in the creative process. These two videos were sent to me recently by my sister. Both were great ideas. One is beautifully realized, the other is just so damn good that it doesn’t require any sophisticated production at all.

    Take a look. I’ll be interested to know what you think.

    Embrace Life:

    Embrace Life from Jim Cota on Vimeo.


    What’s your sign? It’s not what you think…

    American Avocet

    The constellation "American Avocet" as seen in the skies of the Northern Hemisphere in April

    If you were born between April 20 & May 20, you may have thought you were a Taurus. It’s a common mistake. You’re actually an American Avocet.

    A few months ago, I decided it would be nice to recognize family & friends on their birthdays. After all, who doesn’t love a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” first thing in the morning? Turns out, quite a few people. Most of whom have changed their phone numbers. So I decided to use e-mail instead.

    But I realized something was missing. Yes, it was nice to have a little acknowledgement that you survived another year, but I wanted to do something more. It was then that I decided to write horoscopes for everyone. And, having been affiliated with Rare Bird for quite a while, I decided to write them with a bird theme. I call them ‘avascopes’. Corny, I know.

    After a few weeks of research into the habits of particular birds, I settled in to write. Strangely, in retrospect, it seems they kind of wrote themselves, but I’ll still take some of the credit. If you’d like to get your birthday email with your avascope included, send me an email with your birthday (the year isn’t necessary, so you can remain 29 as long as you wish.)

    In the meantime, I thought you might be interested to know what’s in store for people born under the sign of the American Avocet:

    You are unique. Born under the sign of the Avocet, your elegant stature and adaptability set you apart from the rest. Your confidence and bearing put you at ease in the most difficult and trying circumstances. You adjust to shifting realities with aplomb and the duress this might cause others simply rolls off your back.

    Avocets are creative and resourceful. When faced with a difficult or trying circumstance, you marshal your inherent skills of persuasion to help others see the benefits of your viewpoint.

    What to expect for the coming year? For Avocets, it matters little. Should things be coming up roses, you’ll enjoy the spoils of your efforts as well as anyone else. If things don’t go your way, you’ll simply fall back on your ability to adapt to the shifting environment and make the most of available resources. So regardless of what’s in store, you’ll be fine.

    Neighbors Still

    I stand at the open door,
    one child – exhausted – with her head on my shoulder
    another burning energy and adrenaline
    by endlessly circling my legs
    like a kite whose string has been cut.

    It’s late.
    We’ve stayed too long, had too much fun,
    and we all know we’ll pay for it in some measure in the morning,
    but this is the very definition
    of the long goodbye.

    These are not “wave from the door friends”
    they are “walk you all the way ‘til the sidewalk ends” friends,
    and so we stand at the car, only slightly awkward,
    offering hugs and thanks and promises to do this more often.

    And we pause before leaving
    grasping at the tenuous bonds of friendship
    knowing our attention will only become more diverted over time
    and these times together will certainly become more rare.

    Yet they are precise, nearly priceless moments of perfection
    where we strike a careful balance
    between reminiscing about the past
    and marveling at the future.

    So even though six large men and a moving truck
    have scrambled our zip codes,
    we linger and we promise and we hope
    because we are – after all – friends, family, and neighbors still.