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“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

October 20, 2011

With the passing of Steve Jobs, I, like many others, have been thinking about his life, work, and legacy.  In his 2005 Stanford University Commencement Speech, Jobs urged the graduates to “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” He had read the phrase on the back of a catalog many years before and the saying had stuck because it particularly resonated with him.

You may wonder what all of this has to do with academic librarianship.  How does Steve Jobs, considered by many to be a visionary genius, a presenter/marketer par excellence, a noted driven perfectionist — how could he relate to what we do as librarians? I think that the connections and lessons-to-be-learned are readily apparent by reading and pondering some of his notable quotes.  The quotes below and many more can be found at <>.

When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” [Playboy, Feb. 1, 1985]

 [Strive for excellence in everything you do or attempt to do.]

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” [The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1993]

[Take pride in what you do.]

 “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.” [Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

[Imagination is key.]

 “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” [Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

[In other words, “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”]

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