How to Live Before You Die
|How to Live Before You Die Summary and Exercise|
About The Author
Steven Jobs (1955-2011) was an American business magnate, industrial designer, investor, and media proprietor. He was the chairperson, chief executive officer (CEO), and co-founder of Apple Inc. and one of the pioneers of microcomputer technology. He was named the most powerful person in business by Fortune magazine in 2007.
The then-CEO of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs’ speech 'How to Live Before You Die' adopts a tripartite structure and uses autobiographical anecdotes to communicate a message of resilience and personal integrity. This inspiring speech was delivered at Stanford University's 2005 commencement address.
Main Summary of How to Live Before You Die
This essay " How to Live Before You Die" is a motivational speaker that has been delivered by the CEO and co-founder of Apple Computer Steve Jobs. This speech has been delivered by him at the commencement of Stanford University in the year 2005. This speech encouraged the students of Stanford University as well as many people around the globe. Here is his speech, he uses personal stories to communicate a message of personal integrity and flexibility. He delivered his life-related stories to motivate people who were present at that commencement.
The first story he shared is on what he calls connecting with the dots. In this story, he has shared his stories related to his birth. His biological mother put him up for adoption. He mentioned obligations, hardships and struggles behind leaving Reed College, in his life. According to him, he was quite unsure about the further steps in his life. He happened to take the classes of his interest which were the classes of Calligraphy. His knowledge and skills in Calligraphy turned out to be a kind of boon for him.
He applied his skills and knowledge of Calligraphy while designing the first Macintosh Computer after ten years. With the help of his friend Woz, he was able to design the first Macintosh Computer with beautiful typography. He has related all the steps in his life as different dots. According to him, we can realize the connection of all these dots in our life when we look backward. No one can connect the dots of their life looking forward. These different dots keep on connecting and pave the way ahead.
His second story is about love and loss. In this story, Steve Jobs reflected on the beginning of their career with Mr Woz. They started Apple in his parent’s garage when he was 20. They developed the brand of Apple into a $ 2 billion company with over 4000 employees. After some years he was fired by the board of Directors and he became jobless. He didn't lose hope. His love for his tasks helped him again. Because of his knowledge, skills and love, he was successful to establish his new company Next and the world-famous Animation studio called Pixar.
His third story is about death. In this story, Steve Jobs narrates his experience of his sickness due to cancer of the pancreas. The doctor told him that such type of cancer couldn’t be cured. During that time, he experienced his death closely. According to him, death is life's greatest invention. Everyone has to share this intellectual concept.
Death is life's change agent. After examining the report of the biopsy, it was found that cancer could be cured through surgery. After surgery, he got rid of his pancreatic tumour. He performed his roles again with full enthusiastic feelings which he couldn’t do before the surgery. According to him, we should always be eager to know and achieve important things in our life.
Very Short Summary of How to Live Before You Die
First Story: Connecting the Dots
The first part of Steve Jobs’ speech is about connecting the dots. Here, in this first story, he has narrated his birth, adoption scene, and later struggle when he was young, he feels to make meaning of his life. He felt different experiences but started to make sense in the end. So, connecting dots is related to connecting life experiences to get the meaning of it. According to him, his biological mother was an unwed college graduate student who decided to put him up for adoption before his birth so later he was adopted by his parents who were under graduated but persuaded his biological mother to send him to college someday.
Steve joined an expensive college named Reed College at the age of 17 but later he dropped out in Reed College because he was not interested in the normal class. He was fascinated by beautiful posters and wanted to join Calligraphy instructions. So, he decided to join Calligraphy instruction in Reed College but after 10 years he used his knowledge of calligraphy as his skill when he was designing his first Macintosh computer. He designed the first computer with beautiful typography and later on his hardship turned out to be priceless. By looking back, he got the idea that how different dots kept on connecting themselves and support him to reach his real destination. His decision of dropping college, start his course of interest, his experiences, hardship, trust in Karma, etc. moved along with his steps like different dots and made him successful.
Second Story: Love and Loss
The second story is about love and loss. Here, in this part, he has narrated his story related to his love and passion for his work and the loss of his company. As being successful at an early age, he and his friend Woz started the Apple Company in his parent’s garage. They worked hard and in a 10 years period, the small company turned into a 2 billion dollar company with 4000 employees. Later, he was fired from his own company so he started NeXT Company after NeXT, he started Pixar Company which used to create computers with animated features kept. Later on, Apple Company bought NeXT company. He returned to Apple Company and mixed both technologies with his new visions. These incidents helped him to see life from a different perspective and able to dominate the IT market with his new vision so he wants to relate the message not to lose faith, love your work and keep looking for the work that satisfies you.
Third Story: Death
How to Live Before You Die – Complete Exercise
Understanding The Text
Answer the following questions.
a. What is the story about Steve Jobs’ birth?
b. What does he mean when he says, “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”?
Answer: By saying “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”, he wants to make it clear to all of us that our successes and failures rely on how we learn lessons from our past experiences. Life is full of suspense and anything can happen at any time. Everyone has been a failure once in a lifetime. Learning from our failures and building up ourselves helps to get success in future. Taking his example, he had also faced a lot of failures in his life. He was dumped by his girlfriend. He also failed to get a job at McKinsey. He wasted his four precious years without getting support from anyone. But he became successful at last. It proves that in our life, we shouldn’t be worried about our failures instead we should learn from them because one day all the dots (our experience) will be connected to bring something great.
c. What happened when Steve Jobs turned 30?
Answer: When Steve Jobs turned 30, the board of directors fired him from his own company.
d. Jobs contends that you need to love to do what you do in order to be great at it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
Answer: Yes, I agree with his views that we must love what we do to become great because continuous effort and hard work are required to carve our path to success.
e. Is death really life’s greatest invention?
Answer: Yes, death is life’s greatest invention, death is inevitable and nobody lives forever. Nobody wants to die, but everyone shares this intellectual concept. Instead of being worried about death, one should look at how he/she could do great until they survive.
Reference to the Context
a. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.”
i. Who was the baby boy?
Answer: Steve Jobs was the baby boy.
ii. What does ‘do you want him?’ mean?
Answer: ‘Do you want him?’ It is a question related to the adoption of Steve Jobs to his parents Paul and Clara Jobs, who were on the waiting list to adopt the baby.
iii. Who does ‘they’ refer to?
Answer: ‘They’ refer to Mr Paul Jobs and Mrs Clara Jobs.
b. Explain the following lines:
i. “You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
Answer: This line was said by Steve Jobs in his speech at Stanford University. Here he advises everyone to believe in themselves. We have to build up self-motivation as no one is going to do it for us. If we believe in ourselves and have faith nothing can stop us from being successful.
ii. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Answer: Through this line, the speaker is trying to convey that our life is limited and we shouldn’t be trapped by others’ principles. This can misguide us. We must listen to our own inner voice and utilize the time properly so that we could be the person we want to be.
c. What does he mean by “don’t settle”?
Answer: By “don’t settle” he means that we should not accept something which isn’t as good as it is meant to be. We should keep on putting in our efforts until and unless we get the result we are searching for. Instead of running behind success, we should go for excellence. If we are excellent, success automatically comes to us.
d. Which style of speech is used by the speaker to persuade the audience?
Answer: The speaker uses a personal and informal style of expression that appears to be of a narrative type to persuade the audience. The speech is short and simple, and heavily based on encouragement and he tries to motivate the audience with his real-life stories.
e. It is not easy to motivate others. How do you think Steve Jobs’ speech is so inspiring?
Answer: Steve Jobs’ speech is emotional, passionate, inspirational and simply structured. It is so inspiring because of his act of delivering real-life stories in his speech to motivate his audience. Each of the three stories from Jobs’ life involves struggle or sacrifice. His speech encourages people to continue on the path of progress regardless of the family background they belong to. His life story is relatable to the many middle-class peoples. He told us about how he struggled in his life to achieve success in his speech which I found to be so inspiring.
f. Why do you think Steve Jobs used the personal narrative storytelling technique in his speech? What influence does it have on the audiences?
Answer: I think Steve Jobs used the personal narrative storytelling technique in his speech to motivate his audiences. His speech contains several facts related to hardships, difficulties and struggles of life. It has a very positive influence on audiences. His speech gives a chance to audiences to know about what it takes to achieve a successful life in the real sense
Reference Beyond the Text
a. One of Steve Jobs's mottos was: ‘Think differently. Can this make a person succeed in life? What challenges are there in thinking differently?
Answer: Yes, thinking differently can make a person successful in life. We have to think differently and act differently in order to achieve success. Doing the thing that is already done by others or following the path that is already followed by others can’t help us to gain success. Thinking differently is not an easy task. For this one should get into the real world and learn from past activities. If we have a different way of thinking then other people may find us to be crazy and they may demotivate us saying that it’s not going to work. We should believe in ourselves, build up self-confidence and not run on other principles to become successful in our life.
b. What does the slogan “Stay hungry; stay foolish” mean to you?
Answer: The slogan “Stay hungry; stay foolish” means being prepared to accept anything that comes to our life and regularly working to fulfil our dreams, wishes and desires. People stop after achieving a certain point in their life. We should not do that. Rather than that we should always dream higher and run behind it.
c. What does it mean to be a visionary? What makes Steve Jobs different from a fortune-teller?
Answer: Being a visionary means having a good vision or prospect for the future. Steve Jobs is quite different from a fortune teller in the sense that a fortune teller only predicts people’s life but people like Steve Jobs lead society with new visions. They set the direction of the future and work hard to get there. Their dream is to change the present situation of the world and make it better. Visionaries like Jobs not only think about themselves but also about society.