Steve Jobs’ speech to Stanford University graduates in 2005 was the most viewed in history.. Why?

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — It’s graduation speech season in the United States, which means celebrity speakers are looking for examples and wisdom to pass on to graduating students.

As brave as their attempts may be, not all graduation speeches are created equal.

Oprah Winfrey
Talk show host and TV producer Oprah Winfrey, Harvard University in 2013 — “Failure is just that life is trying to push us in another direction.”Credit: Elise Amendola/AFP

While some of these speeches will be instantly forgotten, others will make the headlines, but few hope to achieve the status of Steve Jobs’ speech at Stanford University in 2005.

The rare speech has outpaced this kind of event and found its way into the cultural fabric, and with nearly 40 million views on YouTube, it’s the most-watched graduation speech ever, and not without good reason.

Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman, Howard University 2018 “When I dared to challenge a system that would associate us with victims and stereotypes with no clear historical background, no hopes or talents, when I questioned the presentation, a different path opened up for me, a path toward my destiny.”Credit: BILL OLEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST/GETTY IMAGES

The Apple co-founder, a symbol of business and culture, was a public figure who remained obscure, as allure as the new products unveiled during the company’s launch events.

It can be said that Jobs’ unique view, which applies the trait of beautiful shape to inventions, was the gateway to Apple’s success, that is, to make technology beautiful.

Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem, Tufts University 1987 Gloria Steinem: “Whatever you want to do, do it now. Life is time, time is all there is.”Credit: COURTESY OF TUFTS UNIVERSITY DIGTAL COLLECTIONS AND ARCHIVES

But like Apple products, which hid their inner workings behind shiny exteriors, the nuts and bolts that made Jobs such a success weren’t always easy to reach.

When Jobs spoke, people listened, and Jobs rarely shared his insides as transparently as he did with the graduates on that June 2005 California day.

‘Close to death’

Jobs’ speech includes three stories from his life, the first in which he tells the tale of his abandonment of college, the second about the lessons he learned after being fired by Apple in 1985, and finally his impressions of death.

And if the first two stories can be reduced to the need to trust your intuition and find what you love, the third is more profound. In 2005, Jobs’ first bout of cancer occurred after successful surgery.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama, Howard University 2016 — “Change requires more than just speaking out – it also requires listening. In particular, it requires listening to those you do not agree with, and a willingness to compromise.”
Credit: AL DRAGO/CQ ROLL CALL/AP

“It was the closest I’ve come to death,” he said, “and hopefully this will be the closest I’ve come to for a few more decades.”

The incident led Jobs to focus more on his death, and in his speech he shared his opinion of the virtues of death, going so far as to describe it as “quite possibly the best invention of life”.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid falling into the trap of thinking you have something to lose,” he told the graduates.

He added, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life… Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They already know what you really want to become in some way.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Wellesley College 2015 “Don’t change yourself to please others. If someone likes that version of you, that fake version, they actually like that quirky look, not you.”Credit: PING JI/COURTESY OF WELLESLEY COLLEGE

The tech entrepreneur wasn’t a billionaire that day, just someone who felt the grip of death around him and got out of it for a second chance, talking to people about to embark on their first chance at life.

“It was like giving advice to the next generation of entrepreneurs,” says Carmine Gallo, a communications coach and writer.

Jobs did not get those additional contracts, as he died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 56.

“(His death) cemented that discourse in everyone’s minds,” Gallo added.

Credit: Getty Images

A proper tribute

And last month, Jobs’ widow, businesswoman Lauren Powell Jobs, gave her graduation speech to students at the University of Pennsylvania. She recalled the memory of her late husband and his speech in 2005, and also presented an addition to the attendees.

She said that one of the most beautiful dimensions of life is integrating the ones you loved and lost into your being, adding: “We see more, we understand more, we love more.”

“Steve used to say your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to truly feel satisfied is to do what you think is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you’re doing, and if you haven’t found it yet keep looking.”

“Let his (Jobs) words guide you as they did me, and the only way to do a great job is to love what you do. And while you do it…love who you do it for, and love who you are while you do it.”



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