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Cocky Sonofa…

Overconfidence?

Is there such a thing? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”
– Albert Einstein.

This quote has played a very big role in my own self esteem and can really be very positive, while being very egotistical and counter-productive at the same time.

I often reflect back to Bill Gates when he decided to drop out of Harvard in order to pursue his dreams. Imagine what his guidance councilor’s reaction to this was? I have so many different scenarios playing in my head, most of which involves the councilor calling Bill F-ing crazy, insane and absolutely idiotic, not necessarily in that order. Bill Gates, and anyone who walks the halls of Harvard, is pretty much guaranteed a six figure income right off the bat. Yet, Bill decided to take the chance, follow his own heart and do his own thing. Today, he is the most financially secure person in the world, to say the least.

But of course, we have to be realistic. We always hear about the amazing success stories but there are probably 10 (or more) failures for every victory. So how can one balance out between having our heads in the clouds but our feet on the ground?

Personally, I’ve always leaned toward taking the chance. Every mistake you make is one that you will learn from. Every mistake you make is one less mistake you will repeat.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one”
–Elbert Hubbard.

Yes this may sound too aggressive and outlandish, and yes it is so much easier said than done, especially when you consider having to invest your life savings into your new widget. But I’m not talking about gambling when the odds are stacked in the favor of the casino, no, not gambling, but taking calculated risks in life. There are ways to plan things out, to stack the odds in your favor.

The best way to point yourself in the right direction is to do EVERYTHING you can to ensure success. There are so many other factors that are out of your hands, and those are meant to be left alone. However, aspects that you can control should be researched, planned, understood, structured, studied, debated, marinated, contemplated, practiced, innovated, re-contemplated and any other buzzword you could think of! Oh, and do come up with a plans A, B, C and D.

So far, you need to have confidence and believe in yourself then do everything you can to head towards the right direction. What’s next? *Now what?* (*refer back to previous blog post.)

“Now”, you have to listen.

Listening is a virtue. It’s so easily said, so frequently misused and too often forgotten.

Overconfidence only happens, when one forgets to listen. When one tunes out everyone else and only hears what you want to hear. You don’t have to agree or disagree with anyone, but you have to listen.

How do you listen? Well you need to be patient with the people who give you advice, but be careful whose advice you take.

There’s one more really, really important thing I need to tell you, which would pretty much make everything I said make so much more sense… it is the key to balancing your confidence….. it is something that one of my greatest mentors had taught me…. Umm it goes something like….. ummmm….. I can’t really remember it….. ahhhhh I wasn’t really listening….


365 Days of Motivation

Daily Dose of Motivation

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

It’s often very difficult to stay motivated day in and day out, but the problem is that if you want to stay ahead of the pack; you’re going to have to put in more sweat, blood and tears than everyone else. This is exactly why, according to the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (these people have not learned how to abbreviate!), 2% of adults in the world own more than half the world’s wealth!

Now what is wealth? Chris Rock clearly states the difference between being rich and being wealthy: “Shaq is rich; the white man who signs his checks is wealthy”.

Yes, I know that a many members of that 2% club probably did something illegal, or political (meaning they did something illegal but made it look legal, like invading other countries and stealing their oil – but that’s a whole different story), but that should not hinder us from finding the right path destined for each of us to succeed. Legal or not, this statistic shows that only 2% of the world has found the path towards the uppermost echelon (with concerns to monetary wealth).

The secret may be as simple as HARD WORK!

“The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight;
But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

One of my favorite college professors, Prof. Kevin Cox, once told me that there will always be two ways to accomplish something – the hard way and the easy way. “Always pick the hard way!” he said.

Everyone else is taking the easy path. You really want to stand out from that crowded line and instead, take the road less traveled. It may seem tough and strenuous now, but when you look back, you’ll realize that that challenge probably helped you grow much more than you would, had you taken the easier route.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

– Robert Frost

For this thought, I like using the analogy of taking a stroll in the park as compared to climbing a mountain. You don’t get to grow or change much when you take a nice quiet walk in the park. Sure, it’s convenient, nice and relaxing, but there isn’t much room for growth in this. Now climbing a mountain is the total opposite. You have to test every single muscle in your body, not to mention you’d have to prepare yourself mentally to withstand the many obstacles that will hinder your path to the top. Even when doing each of the two tasks with someone else; you’ll learn a lot more about your partner and grow with them if you two climbed the mountain together. You’d have to trust them with your life and ensure that they can trust you with theirs when climbing. As compared to walking in the park where you may learn a thing or two about them, but again, not much room for growth.

So here I am, ready to take on the mountain.

I will be posting motivational thoughts everyday before I begin my daily routines. Hopefully, my efforts to motivate myself will in-turn, help motivate others as well.

“You don’t find yourself;
you MAKE yourself!”


Connect the Dots Backwards: Steve Jobs Best Speech at Stanford

This is one of the MOST INSPIRING speeches I’ve ever heard! I always think back to this speech whenever I’m in doubt. Steve Jobs gave this commencement speech at Stanford in 2005.

My favorite part of Steve’s keynote address is when he says “You can never connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

Let me explain…

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When Apple wasn’t doing too well, the board kinda fired Steve Jobs. If you don’t know, Steve was sorta the guy who founded Apple, so getting fried from your own company that you started doesn’t always give you the best feeling in your tummy. So naturally Steve was totally disheartened and devastated because of this.  But instead of sulking, being depressed and throwing the rest of his life away, Steve thrived.

Using the situation and channeling his energy into something positive, Steve ended up founding two more companies. One of which is the animations studio Pixar. While the other company, called NeXT, was eventually bought out by Apple. So with this remarkable turn of events, Steve started working for Apple again…. and the rest…. as they say… is iPod History!

Without knowing it, getting fired from Apple was actually one of the best things that happened to Mr. Jobs. So again, “You can never connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” You just gotta have faith and determination in what you’re doing and it will all somehow connect in the end.

So do check out the full video!

Oh and one more thing I love is how Steve Jobs signs off by saying: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”


 

Full text of Steve Job’s commencement speech / Keynote Address at 2005 Stanford Graduation Ceremony

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

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 my life.

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.

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.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because 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. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.


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Connect the Dots Backwards: Steve Jobs Best Speech at Stanford


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