Thursday, October 6, 2011


At breakfast today we learned that Steve Jobs had died.  The icon of business who built technology “for the rest of us” had passed.  Our group of colleagues and Fellows at the Bellagio Center offered their thoughts about how his work had changed us: “persistent innovation,” a “knack for the user,” a “brilliant designer,” a “great comeback,” “only 56.”
I remember reading his address to the graduating class at Stanford in 2005[1].  His most quoted phrase, from the back of the last issue of The Whole Earth Catalog was “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”  Yet it was his third story about confronting death that was most poignant and personal.  Having faced and beaten pancreatic cancer in 2004, he said “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.”
Yesterday was my turn to give a presentation on what I was working on at Bellagio.  During the question and answers that followed, something happened that I’ve learned to look for: out of the give-and-take came a way to reformulate something, to say it in a new way.  What I said was that it’s somewhat ironic that there’s value in scarcity.  It may be a reversal of what you’d expect.  It may drive people to work together because they just don’t have the resources to go it alone.
I think Jobs was saying something similar, but perhaps in a more ultimate way: that life is the great scarce resource.  And that is a positive; it makes the status quo smaller, and opens up the possibility that change can happen before it’s too late.   Perhaps staying hungry may just be the way to dial up the creative juices and fulfill something.  Thanks Steve.

[1] Full text is on the Stanford web site, here:

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