Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech/Address: Key messages and lessons

Posted in News & Press  ·  26th June 2024

Love him or loath him, he changed the world of technology in a relatively short lifetime. From humble beginning to global recognition.

In 2005, Steve Jobs delivered an iconic commencement address at Stanford University, leaving a profound impact with his words. His speech, organised around three personal stories, conveyed powerful and enduring life lessons. Here are the significant messages from that speech:

1. Connecting the dots

Jobs began by sharing his experience of dropping out of Reed College. Despite leaving formal education, he continued to attend classes that interested him, such as calligraphy. Although this seemed pointless at the time, it later influenced the design of the first Macintosh computer, which set it apart from other computers. His message was clear:

Trust that the dots will connect in your future. Even if the path isn’t clear now, every experience contributes to your overall journey. This insight underscores the importance of following your curiosity and trusting in the process, even when the future seems uncertain.

2. Love and loss

Jobs recounted his journey at Apple, the company he co-founded, and his eventual firing from it. This painful experience, however, led him to start NeXT and Pixar, which ultimately brought him back to Apple. He described this period as one of the most creative times in his life. The takeaway from this story is:

Find what you love and do it with passion. Jobs emphasised that the only way to do great work is to love what you do. This passion will sustain you through challenging times and lead to personal and professional fulfilment.

3. Death

Reflecting on his cancer diagnosis, Jobs discussed the inevitability of death and how it can be a powerful motivator. He urged the graduates to live each day as if it were their last, highlighting that life is too short to live someone else’s dream. His poignant advice was:

Live your own life and follow your heart. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. The awareness of mortality can help prioritise what truly matters and inspire you to take bold steps towards your goals.

Practical applications of jobs’ advice

  1. Embrace uncertainty: Take courses or explore interests that may not have immediate practical applications. These experiences can provide unexpected benefits in the future.
  2. Pursue passion: Identify and engage in work that you are passionate about. Passion fuels perseverance and innovation.
  3. Reflect on mortality: Regularly reflect on the transient nature of life to stay focused on what truly matters, making decisions that align with your deepest values.

Recommended reading

To delve deeper into Steve Jobs’ life and philosophy, consider these books:

  1. “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson: A comprehensive biography based on interviews with Jobs and his close associates.
  2. “Becoming Steve Jobs” by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli: An insightful look at Jobs’ development as a leader and innovator.
  3. “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs” by Carmine Gallo: A guide to Jobs’ creative process and business strategies.


Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address continues to resonate due to its timeless wisdom and profound insights. His stories about connecting the dots, dealing with love and loss, and contemplating death offer invaluable lessons for navigating life’s challenges. By applying these principles, individuals can lead more purposeful and fulfilling lives.

For more information on Steve Jobs and his philosophies, exploring the recommended books will provide a deeper understanding of the visionary behind Apple.

To view Steve’s iconic speech on YouTube click here

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