Principles for Success from Steve Jobs’ Speech

Follow Your Heart – Learning from Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech

Steve Job’s commencement speech delivered in 2005 at Standford is highly popular.  You can find the video and the transcript easily in the net. Here is one source. I was thinking to use it as an exercise in mind-mapping but I found it was quite challenging as every sentences and words used were important. Steve must have spent quite a lot of time to get his story of life into such a short passage. Nevertheless, I will show you the mind-map, not as condensed as I like but I do not want you to miss out the key details of the story else the touching and motivational will be lost.

Have Faith & Follow Your Heart in Life
Most important of all is what I have learned from his speech. If I have to use the least amount of words, a typical requirement for doing good mind mapping, then it shall be in three words, ‘follow your heart‘. To make it more complete, it can be “Have faith & follow your heart in life“.

More Details – The Seven Principles
Here is the mind-map of my take away from Steve’s speech giving more details.

  1. Your destination is not determined by your starting point.
  2. Have faith and courage. Follow your heart
  3. Be ever hungry to work hard to learn and grow
  4. Never mind if you look foolish to others
  5. Letting go the rest – pride, fear of embarrassment or failure
  6. Go for things that have value in face of death.
  7. Loving parents & family gives you strong faith to start & to overcome.

Loving Family is the Foundation for Success in Life
I wish to emphasize a key point in Steve’s speech that is likely to be missed by most people. It is a loving family. While Steve did not get adopted by his mother’s wish of graduate parents (a familiar reasoning for Singaporeans with the old ‘preference for graduate mother policy’.), he actually got something much better, a loving parents. Love is much more powerful than just intelligence. Emotional Quotient(EQ) is more important than IQ. IQ gets you in the door but EQ gets you promoted and keeps you progressing in life.  How do I know? His parents saved up enough to send him to Reed College, a college whose fees was about that of Stanford. Steve started his Apple company in his parents’ garage, not in Wuz’s parents garage. This show that his parents were very supportive of Steve’ work. We can also see that Steve loved his parents much. He quit Reed College after six months not wanting to waste his parents’ life savings that was of no help. We also know that Steve appreciated the importance of a good family. He was grateful to get married and explicitly stated ‘And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together’.

I think it is the love of the family that give Steve the faith and the courage to venture out in life; to do things that is out of the ordinary. It is also his support for overcoming the challenges of rejections and failures. He can start all over again. His parents and wife later must have given him a lot of support and encouragement during the time of his firing from Apple and later the starting of NeXt and Pixar. “Love keep me on”. His love and passion for his vision of future must have come from love experienced. (note… I am not aware of the private and family life of Steve Jobs except from what I can deduce from his speech here. If you know more that contradict or support my deduction, please post your comments. Thanks.

5 Oct 2011 Jobs’ Death: Apple which broke the news also acknowledged Job’s family commitment in its statement on Jobs.  “His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts” said the brief statement.).

The Full Story Mind-Map

Lim Liat copyrighted 15 June 2011

Note: A friend recommended this to read together with this post.

My additional comment

No man is an island. Our identity is defined in relationship with others. Our passion is only meaningful with reference to creating value for and serving the community we live in. I think this is the passion of Steve Jobs – making the world a better place thru technology and arts. It is in loosing ourselves that we find our ourselves. Facing death each day helps us find ourselves. Thanks for citing the article to bring forth the other view. For Chinese with the doctrine of mean, we can easily hold both extremes in balanced.
Apple which broke the news also acknowledged Job’s family commitment in its statement on Jobs. 

“His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts” said the brief statement.

Learning Entrepreneurship from Jack Ma

Jack Ma is the CEO of, the Steve Job of China, and ranked 4th in Fortune’s the Smartest People in Tech. If you go to and do a search on him, you can find many of his speeches. Here is one I watched in Mandarin and summarized into a mind-map in English for sharing.  Hear his advices on Venture Capital, Competitors, Picking the right people, setting policies and game rules and honoring them. Let the violation of rules be the means to fire people, and fire them fast. The reasons for failures are few. Learn them and don’t commit them. What I like best is about competitors. He said, “Have no enemy in your heart and you shall be undefeated in the world”. Enjoy the competition with your competitors. If you feel painful then it is because your strategies are wrong.

See also Jack Ma’s 4 Stages of Business Opportunity Perception.
Ma Yun on 4 Stages of Business










For more such related topic: Learning from “Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur” and Entrepreneur Leadership – Kingdom Principles in Business.