On June 12, 2005 Steve Jobs gave a commencement speech at Stanford University. He stands on the podium dressed in a black and red gown like the rest of the graduates. The speech is called “You’ve Got to Find What You love” in the speech Steve Jobs gives details about his background. He explains how he dropped out of college. He also gives some background information about how he was adopted and his birth mother. He goes on to talk about how he started Apple, and all the struggles he faced. He also tells the audience about how he lost everything and started over. He tells the audience three different stories, and then connects those stories to make his point. He appeals to Ethos because he is a very successful business man who has accomplished so much in his life. He appeals to Pathos because he talks about his past and how he beat the odds. He appeals to logic because he explains how he accomplished his dreams and how he became so successful.
Steve Jobs begins his speech with “I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation.” This quote adds an element of humor, which the audience picks up on. This quote also sets the tone for the speech. He tells the audience he wants to share 3 stories. “The first story is about connecting the dots,” he says. He goes on to connect with audience emotionally when he explains how he was adopted at birth. His birth mother was young, unwed, and wanted him to be adopted by college graduates. She wanted to make sure he went on to receive a college education. He explains how 17 years later he did go to college, but chose a very expensive one. His parents were spending their life savings on his tuition, and he couldn’t see the value in it. “So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work OK,” he says. His story goes on to tell how he didn’t have a dorm room, so he slept on friends floors. He recycled coke bottles to buy food and walked 7 miles once a week to the Krishna temple to get a good meal. This part of his story can relate to so many “starving college” students. Jobs does a good job of pulling in his audience with this story. It shows how even the most successful people started at the bottom and had to struggle. He tells the audience about how he decided to take a calligraphy class, which he found fascinating. He didn’t realize it then but that class would be useful in his later years. 10 Years later, Jobs went on to design the first Macintosh computer. He used what he had leaned in that calligraphy class and incorporated it into the design. We can relate to this part of his story, because many times we find ourselves doing things and wonder why? We take classes we don’t think we will ever need however they are required to graduate. His story tells us we never know when we may need that “useless” information. He closes this story out with “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” This is a powerful quote he is saying trust the future, trust that the dots will somehow connect themselves.
His second story is about love and loss. Jobs begins this story with “I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life.” He goes on to tell about how when he was 20 years old he started Apple in his parent’s garage, and in 10 years it grew into a $2 billion company. This part of his speech appeals to the audience because it proves nothing is impossible. He shares with the audience how hard work and diligence can pay off. By the time he was 30 they had just released the Macintosh. Not long after that things took an unepected turn, he was fired. He explains how he hired someone to run the company with him, and their visions for the company began to shift. They had a falling out and the board of directors sided against him. He says “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.” This quote catches the audience’s attention, how could he be fired from a company he started? By sharing this information Jobs connects emotionally with his audience. It shows how life can sometimes be very unexpected. As the story progresses Jobs tries to go back to Apple and apologize but he is rejected. He says that he realizes he still has the ability to do what he loves with or without Apple, so he decides to start over. He explains how starting over gave him the freedom to use his creativeness again. During the next 5 years he stared a company called NeXT and a company called Pixar. Both these companies would go on to be very successful. Also in an unexpected turn of events, Apple bought NeXT and Jobs returned to Apple. This is another example of how Jobs is trying to get his message across. Hard work pays off and to never give up. By sharing his personal hardships the audience can relate to events in their own lives. He ends this story with “Don’t settle.” This is inspirational for young adults, especially when speaking to a graduating class of which many have no idea what is next for them.
His third story is about death. He explains how he had read a quote somewhere that said “if you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” He said that quote had stuck with him and he would ask himself every morning “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” His message is trying to convey, we are all going to die, so make the best of today. His story goes on to tell about how he had been diagnosed with cancer, he had a tumor in his pancreas. The doctor told him he had three to six months to live. Later he had a biopsy and it turned out he had a type of cancer that could be cured with surgery. He had the surgery and his cancer was gone. This story keeps the audience engaged; telling them again life can be unexpected. Yet another example of how Jobs beat the odds. He tells the audience “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” This is telling the audience to follow your dreams doing what you love. He ends the story talking about a publication called “The Whole Earth Catalogue” which he says “was one of the bibles of his generation.” It came out in the late 1960’s and was like Goggle in a book form. He said on the last issue of the catalogue there was a quote that said “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” He ends his speech saying he wishes that for the graduating class “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
In the speech Jobs does an excellent job connecting his life stories to the message he is trying to convey. He uses topics and words that are easy to understand. His stories make him relatable yet his name still remains credible. His honesty and passion come across elegant and clear. Each story has a message that we can emotionally relate to. Which all lead up to the final quote he uses “Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.” He directs his audience to stay curious and humble and find what they love to do.
“Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005” YouTube, uploaded by peestandingup, 6 March 2006, https://youtu.be/D1R-jKKp3NA
Jobs, Steve. “You’ve Got to Find What You Love.” Stanford News, 14, 2005 http://news.stanford.edu/2005/06/14/jobs-061505/