How to live before you die

by on October 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm in Current Affairs | Permalink

1 Mac convert October 5, 2011 at 8:35 pm

A huge loss for the world. Goodbye steve jobs.

2 jseliger October 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm

And the text version, for those who prefer it.

I’ve never felt sad at the death of a famous person or someone I didn’t know. At this news I do. It’s strange, and I’m not sure how to analyze it or go beyond what others have said about the loss of someone whose work and life’s work is so insanely great.

3 Nickolaus October 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I agree with you 100%. With the death of Michael Jackson and the several other big name celebrities who have died recently, I honestly felt nothing. But this one stings quite a bit for some reason. As soon as I saw the headline my heart sank.

4 msgkings October 5, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Because he was a true original, and we will not see his like again. The other famous folks that pass on are usually not that unique and special and positive for humanity. Not even Michael Jackson.

America hasn’t got as much to be proud of these days, and Jobs was one of the few things we could be. And now he’s gone. RIP.

5 Brian October 5, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I think it’s especially sad because he was still in his prime. There was so much left for him to invert.

6 Asif Dowla October 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I show it to my students in First Year Seminar on the first day. He was amazing and improved the quality of life for millions all over the world

7 g October 5, 2011 at 9:37 pm

dude is talking about creature consciousness. how irrational.

8 Robin Hanson October 5, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Does no one else think he gives some pretty terrible advice here?

9 Skipjack October 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm

I got from it that it is less a word to the wise as much as a cheer to the brave. And more power to them, because we are all counting on them.

10 zz October 5, 2011 at 11:59 pm

In such a rush to express approval at ultra-high status Steve Jobs we ignore the fact that this is terrible advice.

11 Chris October 6, 2011 at 1:45 am

Foolish advice.

12 Slocum October 6, 2011 at 7:10 am

Yes. We only hear commencement addresses from life’s lottery winners — the people who took big, long-shot chances with their lives and succeeded, but we never hear from the vastly more numerous who made the same decision to roll the dice and lost.

And then, as for the advice to do only what you love — what an antisocial idea! How many plumbers love what they do? How many accountants, butchers, backhoe operators? Think of all things, all the goods and services, that you value and buy from others. Now, how much of the work that goes into producing those things is even potentially lovable and provides the producers scope for self actualization? No — most of the work we do for each other is necessarily pretty mundane. Or at least preferably mundane (would *you* want to hire an electrician, plumber or a backhoe operator who insisted on being a unique visionary who refused to be bound by convention?)

13 nelsonal October 6, 2011 at 9:44 am

That and many of the people I’ve met who took up jobs in fields they loved (photography dance) found that after it was a profession, they didn’t love it nearly as much, so they lost their favorite outlet, too.

14 JG October 6, 2011 at 9:30 am

I don’t agree. Yes, “do what you love” is not the whole story. But I saw the speech as an echo of Emerson’s philosophy (as put forth in “Self Reliance” and “Experience”, for example). Of course, you may not like Emerson…

15 Dan October 5, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I agree w Robin. In spite of what they might teach in little league, not everyone is special and gifted. Jobs was Sui Generis. 99.9% of people following his advice would be ruined financially, emotionally, etc. And no not all those graduating from Stanford will find success. Talent, drive, luck. Your born w some sort of talent. Luck is fickle. Drive is all you can control.

16 Will October 5, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Possibly. But he is speaking to speaking to Stanford grads post 2002 and pre-2008, so it’s obviously a nuanced message for specific demographic.

17 Claudia Sahm October 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm

True not everyone will invent the next Mac or iPhone or iPad or Pixar or … his list goes on and on. Yet, I did not hear that promise in his speech. The advice he gave should ring true more broadly: find your passion and follow it. Our passions can be small and not “worthy” of NY Times articles or a mass eulogy. To me the advice in his speech is as relevant to the high school drop out as to the tenured faculty. What was noteworthy (and probably a bit lucky) was how successful he was in living his advice. One should remember it took millions of happier consumers of Mac stuff to seal his larger-than-life legacy. He cared about details and about people. Now there’s a lesson for everyone to embrace…regardless of your IQ, pedigree, or accomplishments.

18 Pandaemoni October 6, 2011 at 10:35 am

To be fair, he did not invent the iPhone, iPad or Pixar. He has scores of engineers and software developers who worked for the company, and while he slapped his name on everything Apple came out with, there’s no evidence that he was involved in the nitty-gritty of the “invention” of its more recent successes (save for his input on aesthetic/non-technical control interface issues). He was an Edison: he invented things himself in the past, and later in his life he stood at the helm of a company that invented things, and served as the face for them all).

19 Diana October 6, 2011 at 11:22 am

I’ve wondered about this myself. But now that he’s gone, we’ll find out, won’t we? Either his genius was in inspiration, in which case Apple should continue to turn out amazing products, or it was in the expression of his own work, in which case Apple won’t continue to turn out amazing products.

20 Pandaemoni October 6, 2011 at 11:40 am

There are other things that could influence that, he could have had a leadership style that encouraged innovation by his workers (or even frightened them into working harder and producing more). On the other hand, his sometimes eccentric dislike of certain things could have stifled them too (maybe they wanted to support Flash and he said “STFU, NO!!”). We do know that flash memory and multitouch screens were not invented by Steve Jobs personally and it is absolutely known that entire teams of people inside and outside the company worked on the first iPod and iPhone. (See, e.g., http://ipod.about.com/od/understandingipodmodels/a/invented-ipod.htm)

The question is whether Jobs added anything substantive to that teamwork other that aesthetic direction and oversight. I know that he had himself listed in the patents…but he was the boss, so who was going to say “Wait, you didn’t do anything!” Whatever he did add though, it’s extremely unlikely that he “carried most of the [technical] water.”

21 Careless October 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm

I’ve wondered about this myself. But now that he’s gone, we’ll find out, won’t we?

Since the iPod thing, Apple’s success has been much more about image than substance (yes, the iphone 1 through 3g were innovative pieces of hardware+software, although mine was a piece of crap in quality).. The death of a figurehead could be crippling to that, even if you could somehow measure the change in product innovation and find there was no difference.

Apple puts “Designed by Apple, in California” inside the boxes to be seen when you’re opening them. I almost returned my iPhone 3GS when I saw that. On the one hand, it probably was the best phone I could have gotten for that price for the first 9 months. On the other hand, 9 months later it was significantly outdone and 5 months after that it was a brick.

22 Hassan October 5, 2011 at 10:29 pm

This news really made me feel down today.

23 DK October 6, 2011 at 1:21 am

I am on a couple of mail lists and there are already several messages that I can only describe as quasi-religious. For some people, it appears, Apple products are better than sex and/or gods, and in true religious fervor they attribute the magic of it all to One True God.

24 manuel October 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm

I could care less, people die. move on.

25 goblue October 6, 2011 at 12:33 am

couldn’t*

26 unblinkered October 6, 2011 at 12:44 am

Good advice for tomorrow, bad advice for today. But moreover, it’s not about you, so why make it so?

27 RM October 6, 2011 at 1:42 am

iSad too.

Now, I don’t mean to be too crude about this — I like Steve Jobs — but since I heard this I could not help but wonder what it would do for sales of the disappointing 4S. Apple must be regretting that the phone would not be available this weekend because I am willing to bet that people are going to flock to Apple stores this weekend to mourn the man and many would have ended up buying a 4S.

It gets here on Oct 14. Not too late to experience an additional short-term sales bump but the timing is a few weeks off.

28 joshua October 6, 2011 at 9:42 am

Heh. I was thinking rather than Apple regretting that the iPhone 4S is not out yet, Apple might benefit from the Jobs news pushing aside all the coverage of how ‘disappointing’ the iPhone 4S announcement was…

29 RM October 6, 2011 at 1:43 am

If I were Apple I would plan memorial events on Oct 15th and 22nd at all stores.

30 Edward October 6, 2011 at 7:09 am

Rest in peace, Steve. You were an amazing man.

31 Andrew' October 6, 2011 at 7:18 am

Steve Jobs is someone who showed us that the poor can have great things, and the rich can still die young.

32 Popeye October 6, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Steve Jobs created popular expensive products for upper middle-class people, a fine accomplishment to be sure but I don’t understand what this has to do with the poor.

33 Careless October 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm

As of a couple of days ago, the iPhone 3GS is free with a data plan. That’s affordable for anyone who really wants something of that sort.

34 davver October 6, 2011 at 9:23 am

FIrst, I think we can all agree his advice is meant for students at elite universities (i.e. high IQ people like himself). Following your dream is bad advice for regular folks unless they are star athletes or singers or such.

Second, I think we can agree that Steve didn’t live every day as his last or follow his dreams. Most of us wouldn’t be programming computers on our last day, and I doubt that’s what he said his dream job was when he was asked in kindergarden. Steve simply pursued the best combination of his own interests and skills that were practically available to him. It was his “realistic dream” not his “dream dream”.

Third, what does he mean by not settling? What he really means is don’t settle for creature comforts. If you truly are brilliant don’t take some medicore professional job just because its steady and pays well and your out by 5. Live in a ratty apartment and survive on ramen noodles while you try to create your own business.

Of course implied in that is that you are a healthy young man with no loved ones to support. The message doesn’t really apply to anyone else. They take jobs because they have too. Even if you have money like me if you have bad pre-existing conditions you have to be tied to an employer. That’s certainly something we can fix as a country.

35 joshua October 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

It’s rare that I like a quote from Obama, and I don’t know if it was from him or his speechwriter, but that’s irrelevant:

“There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

I certainly did.

36 Yog Sothoth October 6, 2011 at 10:07 am

Some of his advice is bad. Living every day as if it is your last would technically mean using up all your capital and investing nothing in the future, although I’m sure that’s not what he really means. But I like what he says about doing what matters to you and not living someone else’s life. That rings very true to me and I wish I had appreciated that wisdom much earlier in my life.

37 babar October 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

geez, he was trying to be inspirational, not give concrete advice! absolutely bizarre how people who think they understand the world wouldn’t understand the purpose of a speech of this.

38 davver October 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

babar,

People understand the purpose of the speech (to raise the status of steve jobs and the university, also to make both feel good about themselves). They are just asking the same questions a grad would ask themselve after the speech (how to interpret it).

39 Popeye October 6, 2011 at 10:34 pm

And everyone understands the point of your comment, which is to raise your own status and to make you feel good about yourself.

40 Ramagopal October 6, 2011 at 9:14 pm

“do what you love … if you can afford to. Otherwise, do what enables you to earn well, and do what you love in the spare time ” is what a school teacher of mine told me. That is far better than just ” only do what you love”

41 Wilson Frail October 7, 2011 at 3:03 am

What a relief to read some of the critical commentary here about Jobs and what he represented. I’ve been looking hard online just to find religious praise and fan admiration. His success can’t be denied, neither that of Apple, but people have difficulty seeing that the man was just a Apple’s number one seller, besides being the boss.

It is strange to think of him as a genius when most of the things he did in the last five years was sell highly sophisticated stuff to people who would not fall for a very expensive gadget in the first place if we were indeed rational animals. The stroke of genius was that he could make the sell and make his company profitable. If we look around us, the world is not a better place just because we have i stuff. Are communicating better? Really?

Written from a pc.

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