In the summer of 2008, I was about to graduate from the Digital Arts & Design program at Full Sail University, and I was asked to give my program's graduation speech.
Full Sail is not a traditional university, and as such didn't have a traditional way to select graduation speakers. In traditional universities, the Valedictorian usually gives the class graduation speech, but at Full Sail, at the end of the program the students and the faculty vote to select the recipient of the Advanced Achievement Award, a fancy name for The Graduation Speaker Award.
Now, I don't consider myself a natural public speaker, but I had been able to manage a few small audiences before. However that was in Spanish, my native tongue, and not to an audience of 3 graduating programs combined.
I needed some help, so I took it to the internet to find inspiration. It didn't take long for me to stumble upon Steve Jobs's wonderful 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. In the most quintessential way, Steve Jobs does in this speech what he did best in life: he simplifies a very complex system (life) to the simplest possible form, so that it can be understood and used by his audience.
From his life experience, he distills 3 stories into a simple message:
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.
His closing statement is a phrase from the back cover of a publication he followed during the 1960s: The Whole Earth Catalogue.
On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
This phrase made such a big impression on me. It sums up so much great advice from many other masters into a succinct statement. It's the ultimate advice. The day we lose our ability for astonishment, our curiosity, our desire to keep learning, is the day we stagnate. This is true for our work, for our relationships, for individuals and corporations, this is true for life.
Like everyone else graduating beside me, I had no idea how I was going to use what I had learned during my years of college, but suddenly the road ahead didn't look so scary anymore, it was instead, full of opportunity. For I was foolish and hungry at the time, I had just graduated, I didn't know anything about the real world, and I was so eager to learn, I was so hungry for knowledge, so ready to fail.
I strove to live up to this motto ever since. I can't say I have a perfect record of course, but every time I start to feel like I'm slowing down, or like I've mastered something I always come back to this phrase. If I feel like I haven't seen much failure lately, if I haven't made many mistakes, then something is not right. It's time to learn something new, time to venture into an unknown technology, time to be a novice again. It doesn't sound like it, but it's gratifying, and even addicting.
Today it's another small step in that direction. Since I graduated, the world has changed significantly thanks to technology, and in no small part thanks to Steve. An entire mobile revolution came in full swing, and it seems like it's starting to settle, paving the way for new revolutions to come. I've been a bystander all this time, following intelligent people give their accounts of the facts and opinions on the matter. But I've been just watching and reading from the sidelines, and I have so much to say.
This will be my outlet for expression, for analysis and critique. For sharing what I learn and for learning a few things about myself. I hope you find it interesting and hopefully learn a few things yourself.