|Steve Jobs speaking at Stanford's |
2005 Graduation Ceremony
When I was 19 years old I came to the realization that I didn't want to work in my Father's business, which I had assumed I would do since I was about 10. My father is self-made man from humble beginnings and his business (now over 50 years) is very successful. When I confided in my father that I didn't think his line of business was of interest to me, he supported me. He gave me what I think is the best advice you can give to any high-school or collage graduate. He told me to discover what I love and stick to that. He warned me not to work just to earn a living, but to work at something I'm passionate about.
It turns out that Steven Jobs gave exactly the same advice during a commencement speech at Stanford more than a decade later, in 2005. You can see a video of the speech and the transcript here but I wanted to quote a couple of lines from it in the hopes that his words, far more elegant than my own, will inspire other people to follow his and my father's advice.
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.
-- Steve Jobs
It took me 12 years to graduate from collage with a degree in a field I love, computer science. I dropped out of collage three times, joined the army for three years, started a few businesses, and then discovered programming. I was 30 years old when I graduated - an age at which other people are established in their careers. Since then I've done well in my field and have loved nearly every day as a software professional.
Last year I discovered a new passion: Producing interactive books for the iPad. This still involves my first love, software development, but it also allows me to work with very talented artists and to produce a product that entertains thousands, perhaps one day, millions of people. I'm so passionate about it that stopped working as a software consultant and spent most of last year earning nothing trying to build my business. I started the business with a talented individual but in the end we had very different visions of what our focus should be. In February, I left the company I helped co-found and landed my current position working for a software consulting firm. I enjoy the company I work for and the work I do, but I remain truly passionate about producing interactive books. Shortly after leaving my first publishing company I started a new one, Noble Beast, which is the company that is developing Steampunk Holmes. It's through this new company that I pursue my passion and because I do not have to compromise on anything - I'm the boss and only employee - I'm very focused and having the time of my life.
Along the way I have heard a lot of negative things about pursuing production of interactive books. The most painful for me has come from venture capitalists and the like who don't support the idea of a company that is a life-style business. Understandably, VC's want a company that you can start today and sell for a billion dollars in 5 years. Who wouldn't? Well, I can't create the company and books I want if that is my focus. I have to put quality before everything else including earnings to create the kind of interactive books I can be proud of and be passionate about developing. I'm creating a life-style business not a venture business and I'm proud of it.
All my life people have been telling me that I can't do this and that I can't do that. I failed English in high-school and couldn't write a simple note let alone a blog, but in 1999 I wrote my first book and have written five very successful books since then. I failed math in high-school and had to start out in remedial math in collage, but by the time I finished I had completed three semesters of calculus, a number of math intensive science classes, and was a computer programmer. Today people are telling me that I don't have the right ingredients to make a publishing company work, but I'm going to prove them wrong just as I proved all the other nay-sayers wrong. Success, I believe, has nothing to do with natural skills. It has to do with dogged determination and passion. Armed with these things you can accomplish anything.
I would like to quote once more from Steve Jobs 2005 commencement address. If you've read this far than thank you for taking the time to listen to what is probably a very narcissistic post. I only hope that my words, or more likely Steve Jobs words, will motivate you to focus on your passion and not get stuck doing something you don't care about.
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.
-- Steve Jobs