Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stay hungry, stay foolish and Steve Jobs

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish...Thank you Steve Jobs
In the late 1970s when the Whole Earth Catalog decided to call it quits and come out with the final edition, they came up with a interesting ending. On the back cover there is the scene of a country road, somewhere in America, and above it four words: stay hungry, stay foolish.

The Whole Earth Catalog was the paper equivalent internet of the 70s. It focused on the environmental movement of the time sharing information from; sustainable living, to Outward Bound, to gardening tools, to animal and human rights organizations, and to much more.

I remember lying on my parent’s bed reading it, as one cool idea morphed into another cool idea, just as the internet works today. It opened up my mind to possibilities’ I may not have ever known about.

Recently, I was having dinner with a friend of mine who I had not seen for 38 years, Duane Benton who is now 80. I was telling Duane about some of my entrepreneurial experiences and personal philosophies regarding my own life and my view of the world, and how much of those experiences help to shape who I am and have led me to the life I lead now as an entrepreneur and alternative transportation advocate.

Towards the end of our dinner, Duane told me about a commencement speech a friend of his had sent him, where Steve Jobs spoke to the graduates of Stanford in 2005. Duane said that Jobs spoke about his own life experiences and how they shaped his life and at the end of the speech, Steve described the back cover of the final Whole Earth Catalog, and finished his speech to those graduates, with, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”
Sometimes a few simple words can have great meaning. My friend Duane said the speech is one of “things you should read at least once a year to keep your perspective on life.”

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish can mean different things to people based on their own experiences, and that is fine. To me it means: Stay hungry for new knowledge and experiences, and Stay foolish by keeping a child’s curiosity and don’t let anyone tell you something cannot be done, try it anyway, touch it, feel it, smell it, taste it, experience it (Life) fully, so there will be no regrets later on.

So, Rest in Peace Steve Jobs. Thank you for sharing your life and wisdom with the World.

And to all of you, who now are reflecting on your own lives...

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Bill Poindexter
Carfree American

The 2005 Jobs Stanford Commencement Address:

"I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first six months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 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. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 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.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky–I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation–the Macintosh–a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? 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 really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down–that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the Valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me–I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

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.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, “Toy Story,” and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

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.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up, so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying, because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

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.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called “The Whole Earth Catalog,” which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: It was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of “The Whole Earth Catalog,” and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. 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.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Presidential Speech I would like to hear

Health. Without good health you have nothing.

My fellow Americans,

Ask not what your car can do for you, but what you can do without your car.

Without good health we have nothing.

It is my contention we have become a society of self destructive behaviors, which could be our doom if we do not make some simple changes.

The primary focus of my Presidency will be to focus on the Health of the country.

First the physical and mental health of the people.
Second, the health of the environment.
Thirdly the health of the community.

The people:
The health of the population will be the largest determining factor of the health of the country. Without good health, people cannot take care of themselves, or their families. They cannot hold jobs effectively. They become dependent on health care, when in fact they should be able to take care of themselves. Mental and physical health illness, in most cases can be reversed by living a lifestyle of good nutrition, exercise, feeling of self worth from a job, and a community that recognizes them as an important part of the whole. Making some simple changes will, I promise you, achieve a healthier society. For instance, people asking themselves simple questions before they leave their home can change their thinking and health for the better, like; “Can I walk, bicycle, to my destination or do I have to take mass transit, or a combination?” or “Do I need this, or do I want this?”

Thomas Jefferson, who suffered from depression, said he felt the happiest when he walked for three hours a day around the grounds of Monticello.

The health of the environment is of paramount importance. We are the stewards of our environment and MUST take full responsibility. Too long we Americans have lived with the attitude of having choices when it comes to the environment. I am here to sternly say, we do not have a choice. For our future generations we HAVE to make changes NOW! One of the primary things we must do is limit car use. The car should be used as a last resort when it comes to transportation and travel for us to have a healthy environment. Benefits will be cleaner air, less noise, visual beauty, and a feeling of doing what is right. No one can argue if you turn on a car in a garage and close the door the room will fill with poisonous gases and you will die. Think of the planet is a big garage, and it can only handle so much of the poisons. Yes my example if childishly simple, but it proves its point.

The health of the community is necessary. We are social beings. We need interaction, self worth, neighbor support, and friends . Stronger communities will: bring better education, more jobs, stable businesses, financially stable people, happier families, cleaner environments, less crime, and better physical and mental health. Communities must become smaller not larger, and more of them. The days of the American to hop in the car and drive 20 miles, unnecessarily, to take their family to dinner, when numerous local restaurants are within walking or bicycling distance are numbered.

Neighbor helping neighbor is how this great country was founded. Communities will make America stronger as a whole.

Let us get America healthy again and show the world we are a great country. Let me also say it is important to understand we all share the planet and must get along. I believe we can live together in peace as long as we all take steps to create…no….make a healthy society by taking care of our; personal, environment, and community health.

Simple techniques like changing our thinking toward better health. Like before you leave your home you ask, can I walk or bicycle to my destination, then, or do I have to take mass transit, or maybe a combination of the three, and then do you ask: do I have to car pool or take the car. By living this way you will be promoting the above heath and making the world a better place.

Being aware of the universal law of Cause and Effect. Our actions have consequences. Good or bad.
Change is easy. You may be uncomfortable, but that is normal part of change.

Folks, one last thing. Time is not a luxury we have. People are unhealthy, the environment is sick, and communities are being disbanded by urban sprawl and overuse of cars. Waiting for the time bomb to explode is stupid, when we all have the ability, intelligence, and good sense to make the change needed.

So, let us, together, make America a healthy place to live.

Carfree American

First Choice Transportation or FCT

Teach your family and friends this:

First Choice Transportation- before you leave your home ask yourself,

"Can we walk, bike, or take mass transit to our destination?"

It is about shifting the thinking and looking at the car as a LAST CHOICE for your transportaition needs.  Can someone create a logo for this?