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From his 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

"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."

After listening to his speech, hearing him say "Keep looking, don't settle", I quit my job and started out on my own. He din't just indirectly affect me through technology, he influenced me directly. Anyone could have said those words, it wouldn't have affected me in such a visceral manner, it had to be Steve. You have to win some ones respect first before you can say something to them.

The whole world had its head up its a$$ with regards to the smart phone market, and steve had to show us how its done. Strangely I now feel like how I did when I moved out of my parents home. I feel a huge sense of responsibility descending on us. Steve won't be there to show us anymore. We have to figure things out on our own.

I played that speech to my girlfriend last spring and she cried. Shortly after she decided to go back to school. I cried the first time I heard it myself.

I still remember being 18 (12 years ago already!), having just moved to a new city on my own, and the whole office of our web design company crowding around one of the power macs to watch his keynotes through the old quicktime streams. I was running 0S7 back then, and the iMac was still new and multicoloured, but you could feel that something big was happening.

I'm proud to say I'm an entrepreneur in part because of the example of pioneers like Steve.

what did she go back to school to study?

Science! (biochem)

The text for the full speech is here - if you've never read it, you should. It's amazing:


Rest in Peace, Steve.

While not conscious of the morbidity that really underlies it, that's been my personal way of looking at life for a long time. What is there really to lose?

He's right-- if you're about to die, there are no limitations. You can, for example, cook meth with one of your former students.

The problem is when you're not about to die. Then embarrassment and failure are real issues. You do have something to lose-- your life! Your friends, your house, your possessions, your family, so many things to lose.

If you're going to lose it all anyway, taking risks is not a big deal. If you're 20 something and have your whole life ahead of you, taking risks is a really big deal.

Rest in peace jobs, you will be missed.

If you haven't achieved anything, you haven't got anything to be proud of in the first place. You can't go backwards from step 1. I don't care when I lose at street fighter, or if my player rating sucks compared to my friends' - I'm not good at street fighter yet.

And believe me, if you think it's difficult to take risks now, at ~25, without children to feed and send to school, without a girlfriend who requires upkeep or friends with high-paying jobs who want to eat at Michelin restaurants... you're never going to get off the boat.

Every journey begins with one step.

A girlfriend who requires upkeep? Is this 100 years ago?

I'm not telling you how to live your life. Please, feel free to take ridiculous risks. Give up all your worldly possessions and move to the SF bay area. Start boring web 2.0 apps. Do a startup or whatever. Go to burning man. I'll be over here enjoying my nice, stable life.

I can assure you, right now, at this point in time, no one gives a shit about your pessimism, reality checks, or breaking bad references.

Your name is very relevant to your post :).

And at least 4 or 5 people care enough about it to respond to me, so i think your anger is a bit unfounded.

Expectations, embarrasment and fear of failure are not "real issues". Overcomming them is important for 20 somethings as well.

We're all about to die.

Are you sure? We're close to growing organs in labs.

It just prolongs the inevitable. If the average life expectancy is 70 years or 200, it still doesn't matter much in regards to things left undone; on your death bed, you'll still regret not loving your children more, not having the courage to ask her out, not traveling, not working on your ideas, etc... Consider that some opportunities only happen once, and then pfff, they are gone forever. Most of use are full of regrets until the end, and growing organs in labs is only a small comfort.

The other dream of course is for us to become immortal, but that's magnitudes harder than growing a liver in a laboratory, not to mention that even if possible it would open up a huge can of worms in society, problems that are even harder to overcome than technical issues.

Also, for all the advancements medicine appears to have, remember that we aren't even able to cure cancer and HIV, we aren't able to cure Alzheimer, we are only able to keep asthmatics under control and my child's doctors weren't even able to tell me the reason for why my child had the Lyell's syndrome a month ago (thankfully he's fine now, but it did freak us out).

We aren't even able to solve the problem of freaking bacteria becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics, and should I mention we aren't even able to find a cure for the flu or for common cold?

So don't kid yourself. You are going to die, you probably won't get past 90 years and your children, your grand-children and everybody you know will die too.

That's like, way insightful, like, man. Pass the J?

For those who are late to the party, Breaking Bad is now available on Netflix streaming, in case you didn't cancel your subscription in moral outrage over Quikstergate.

As someone who runs a site to help those who are feeling depressed and runs it with what seems to be a genuine level of concern and caring for those the site intends to help, this seems like a really fucking bizarre comment to make.

Here's my medicine. Buy a Netflix subscription. Watch Breaking Bad. You'll feel better.

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