Commencement Thursday October 19, 2006

For the past couple of days I have been struggling with a bought of insomnia and handful of anxiety attacks. Stepping back from myself it’s pretty obvious that this has more to do with the repercussions from a severe lack of sleep and lack of self control. Actually, the insomnia probably has more to do with the tap water in the apartment. As it seems everyone in this fucking joint is having troubles sleeping. (Especially the really horny couple dry humping each other above my bedroom) The anxiety attacks have more to do with some weird lingering insecurity. Nothing a trip with down Sugar Mountain with Mr. Neil Young can’t resolve.

I’m digressing. As a remedy to combat the waves of self-doubt, I’ve noticed that I seem to be gravitating to some comforting literature. In particular I seem to be re-reading Steve Job’s famous Commencement Speech from June 2005. on a regular basis. Of all the people in the world, it was forwarded to me by a ravenous Raiders fan the day I handed in my resignation letter.

It’s something I dissect on a regular basis and it’s resonates stronger than anything I’ve ever come across.

... None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. ... Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Everyone knows I took an extremely convoluted way to get to where I am today. But as I was living by my gut feelings, making ridiculous decisions that inspired dozens of heated agreements with Gerry, I was always wondering if what I was doing would have any benefit. Now, as I look back the shitty choices I made have all affected where I am today. And I’m sure if everyone else out there looks back at some of the weird choices they made they’d all start to connect to one another.

At the time my decision to become the VP internal for the U of C ski club was one of the weirdest decisions of my life. I was a reclusivly shy individual up until that point. I had no intentions to become some sort of figure head. But I decided it’d be pretty low key, if I just sent out emails for the club and maybe built them a website. A couple weeks after joining, I ended up in charge of the whole gong show. I learned and failed repeatedly. (You can ask Mr. Arnott for first hand evidence of that.) But in the end with the help of others I was able to turn the club’s fortunes around. It also taught me how to deal with the most egotistical assholes in the world. It also taught me organization and professionalism … well to an extent. All the skills I’m using every day with the new corporation. In the end, I meet some great people and forged some legendary experiences, including a stronger tie with my long time girl E.

Ski Club President

What resonates with me is the idea of doing what your passions call for. Start taking photos, start drawing again. Do what ever your gut feeling says. It may not look like it but in the end it will all work out.

... Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. 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.

... I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

I really believe that being forced to be a start over and be a beginner is something that should be embraced and enjoyed, rather than feared. Being too good at something or becoming an expert is always horrible. You become stagnate and in my opinion pigeon holed. You stop learning and new experiences start to dwindle. Change and new experiences is what makes life fun and enjoyable. Being a beginner is the best way to re-evaluate, relearn and more importantly grow.

Years ago, I got viciously dumped over email. Probably one of the most epic email dumps of all time. (I actually had it framed for a year or two) It was devastating and really took a lot out of me. I was dating an intelligent and caring individual – who tunred out to be an e&c model. At the time I thought I was the king shit and that things would last forever. Life was great in my eyes.

After watching swingers about 40 times and drinking myself stupid I really sat back and looked at why it happened and what I did wrong. It made me realize that things weren’t as good as I thought. In actuality, there were two sides to this equation. One side I couldn’t change and the other I could. I need to change some of the circumstances in my life. I became a beginner again. I was forced to start new relationships again, learn from my mistakes and moved on. While my friends and I still blame that whole incident on some fourth rate hockey burnout, I know now that it was one of the most beneficial things that ever happened to me. In the end I’m probably a far better person and far better friend because of it. Whether it’s becoming a new employee or a or a new partner, being a beginner again makes you revaluate and relearn…

Don’t get me wrong, I have zero authority when it comes to doweling out life experiences like Mr. Jobs. I’m not a multi billionaire and I haven’t changed the world – But I have experienced and I know that there’s even more for my life in the pipeline.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Categories: The-Corporation, The-Personnal, The Future, The Past

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