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
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.