What Wall Street Occupiers Could Learn From Steve Jobs- Foster Friess.com
What would Steve Jobs say to “Occupy Wall Street” folks?
My colleague Joe Lindsley’s thoughts below “nail it.”
Entrepreneurial genius believed failure leads to greatness
How many of the Occupy Wall Streeters are emoting about their protesting experience on iPhones and iPads, while listening to their iPods? Do they realize that if their crazy wish that capitalism would just go away came true, there would be no Apple to create the devices they rely on to spread their pro-sloth, anti-enterprise campaign?
They might give Apple an exemption for being “cool,” but really Apple is the archetype of the big corporations that the Occupy protesters can’t stand.
When Apple founder Steve Jobs died, partisans on both the left and the right tried to claim him for their own. Jobs was a liberal Democrat, but some argued that in practice he embodied the American ethics of hard work and enterprise championed by conservatives. Regardless of his politics, Jobs was a successful businessman who created a massive corporation that changed the way we communicate.
And if the Occupiers listened to some of the words of the man whose communications revolution helped make their protests possible, maybe they would reconsider how they are spending their time.
Speaking at Stanford’s 2005 commencement, Jobs said that every day he would look in the mirror and remind himself that he was going to die one day. That realization—what they called memento mori or “reminder of death” in the Middle Ages—forced him to use his time well and to innovate. And liberal though he was, he didn’t sit around all day in coffee shops protesting against “the man.” He became the man by working his tail off.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose,” he told the Stanford graduates.
In his 2005 Stanford speech, Jobs emphasized the importance of failure and death in having a good life–two topics no one wants to hear on graduation day. You don’t even want to hear about that stuff at a funeral.
He told that ambitious audience that getting fired from the company he started at age 30 was actually good for him. Instead of giving up and joining the protesting circuit, he pulled himself up and got back to work.
“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,” he said. During his exile from Apple, Jobs created Pixar Animation Studios, which you could say turned out pretty well. Later, Apple purchased another company Jobs created, leading ultimately to the development of the iPhone and iPad.
The man without a college degree got that Stanford audience to its feet, but not before returning to that sunny idea, death: “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.”
Death is not cause for despair. It should spur us to live great lives. And even when “life is going to hit you in the head with a brick … don’t lose faith. … you’ve got to find what you love.”
To those protesters who have spent a month yelling and not showering in lower Manhattan: Why don’t you follow the example of the man who created your iPhones, pull yourself together, and try to succeed, instead of screaming like two year olds for more cookies from the nanny state?
They—and you—can watch Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Stanford Universityon an iPhone, Mac, or iPad (15 minutes). It’s okay to watch it on a PC too.
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I would appreciate the opportunity to stand side by side with you in the battles ahead!