How to Live Before You Die Summary

This speech “How to Live Before You Die” was delivered at Stanford University in 2005 to address the students, at the convocation programme by a famous American business magnate, industrial designer, investor, and media proprietor, Steven Jobs known widely as Steve Jobs. He shared his three real stories of his life with the graduates. The first story is about his birth, childhood and struggles.

His secondary story is about his love and loss, and the third one is about his death. He used the personal narrative story telling technique to touch the graduates in their life and inspire them to do something new in their life. He was born from an unmarried woman and kept for adoption. She wished to be adopted by the educated person so that he would go to study in the future. At first, a lawyer and his wife wanted to adopt but later they cancelled him because they wanted a daughter not a son. Later, he was adopted by a mechanic promising that they would send him to college. After seventeen years, he went to college but he found  that education would be useless for him because he wanted to do something new in the field of his own interest. He thought that education was also very expensive because he had to spend all the money saved by his parents through their entire life. So he decided to leave the college and thought for the thing in which he had interest.

He struggled a lot. He did not have the facilities to enjoy. He slept on the friends’ rooms’ floor. He returned Coke bottles to buy food and had to walk seven miles every Sunday to get one good meal a week the Hare Krishna temple. He was fascinated by the calligraphy that he took a class of it because that was beautiful, historical, artistically very small in a way that science cannot capture, and he found it interesting. He did not even have a hope of it to do something new and different in his life. After ten years, that helped him a lot when they were designing the first Macintosh computer because that was the first computer with beautiful typography.

So he was able to connect the dots looking backwards which he could not do if he had looked forward to connect the dots when he was in college. He suggests to be based on the past to cherish the future because this approach made his all the differences in his life. His second story is about his love and loss. He was lucky because in his early life, he found the field of his own interest to work something new and different. Woz and he started Apple in his parents’ garage which became very successful possess 2 billion dollars with 4,000 employees. They launched their finest creation, the Macintosh. When he became thirty years, he was fired from his own company by their Board of Directors.

Later, he started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar. He fell in love with an amazing woman and he married her. Pixer created the World’s first animated feature film, Toy Story, and the most successful animation studio in the world. He returned Apple because the technology they developed at NeXT was bought by Apple. He had a wonder family with his wife, Laurene. He suggests that we should not lose our faith on what we want to do even if we get very hard time to face for it. He stresses that we should not be satisfied until the great work that we want to do is found. Otherwise, we should keep looking; we should not settle. We will surely find it one day to make difference.

His third story is about his death. He was suffering from cancer. There was a tumour on his pancreas. The doctors told him that his disease was incurable and said that he could live no longer than three to six months. Later, when the doctors did a biopsy they found that was a very rare form of pancreatic cancer and that was curable with surgery. After the surgery, he was fine then. He says that no one wants to die and death is the destination we all share. He adds that death is very likely the single best innovation of Life because it is the life’s change agent as it clears out the old to make way for the new. He says that death is the ultimate truth that everyone has to accept. He at last suggests the graduates to Stay Hungry and Foolish to do something new and different in our life.

How to Live Before You Die Questions And Answer: Understanding the text

Answer the following questions. 

a. What is the story about Steve Jobs’ birth?

Ans: There is a different story about Steve Jobs’ birth. He was born by a young unmarried college girl. He was kept for an adoption after his birth by his biological mother. His mother wanted him to be adopted by an educated family so that he would get an opportunity to go to college. At first, a lawyer’s family was ready to adopt him; but later, they changed their decision that they wanted to adopt a girl. Then, a mechanic Paul Jobs and his wife Clara Jobs adopted him making a promise that he would go to college.

b.What does he mean when he says, “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards” ? 

Ans: He says, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” I think he means that our present is based on the past and the future is on the present. It means our success is based on the various aspects of our past as it paves the way to move ahead. Future is left to be experienced as we just make an assumption to have better life but it is connected to our present. So, if we want to be successful we have to look backwards in order to get a lesson, idea and guidance to connect the points of our life for the future. We need a base to stand; so, past is the base for the present and the present is the base for the future to be successful in the future.

c.What happened when Steve Jobs turned 30? 

Ans: When Steve Jobs turned 30, he was fired from the company by his Board of Directors.

d. Jobs contends that you need to love to do what you do in order to be great at it. Do you agree or disagree? Why? 

Ans: Yes, I totally agree with his opinion because we have to love our work and should be concentrating  on it so as to kiss the success in our life. If we do not love our work then we will not have any interest in working it. It is said that a rolling stone gathers no moss. We will not get any mastery in it. So love in our work paves us to have mastery and success in it. Love, concentration and continuity in our work are the keys to success.

e.Is death really life’s greatest invention ?

Ans: I think death is life’s greatest invention because death is inevitable and no one is immortal physically in this world. It is a great invention in a sense that it clears out the old to make way for the new. We have to accept this bitter truth as one day we should leave this world leaving for the new ones. While inventing something, one must face so many problems as death also plays similar role. Death is useful but it is purely an intellectual concept.

Reference to the context

a.Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow: 

“We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” ” 

i. Who was the baby boy?

Ans: Steve Jobs was the baby boy.

ii. What does ‘do you want him?’ mean? 

Ans: ‘Do you want him’ means asking for his adoption by his biological mother.

iii. Who does ‘they’ refer to? fa’?

Ans: ‘They’ refers to the mechanic Paul Jobs and Clara Jobs.

b.Explain the following lines: 

i.”You have to trust in something -your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” 

Ans: Steve Jobs in his speech suggests while addressing the graduates that they should consider gut, destiny, life, karma, and whatever as important things in our life. These things remain with us together and we cannot be out of them. He means; if we believe in them, we will get success in our life through excellence in our work.

ii.”Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” 

Ans: it is said that time and tide waits for none. He also means through this line that we have limited time. It runs continuously without any stoppage. If we waste a second, we lose that second forever like the flowing water in the river. So, we have to complete our task in time that we should not put off today’s work for tomorrow. We should not waste it living someone else’s life as time plays a key role in our achievement. Thus, he means; work, do not waste time idly. 

c.What does he mean by “ don’t settle” ?

Ans: He means by “don’t settle”, we should do the work which can keep us happy. We have to choose the task which should be the matter of our interest so as to lead us toward success happily and interestingly without any feeling of irritation and monotony. He suggests that we should not seek a work that is satisfying us. So, do the task of your own interest.

d.Which style of speech is used by the speaker to persuade the audience? 

Ans: The speaker has used a personal, narrative and informal style to persuade the audience with his own  real life story so that they will be also motivated in their work to be successful.

e.It is not easy to motivate others. How do you think Steve Jobs’ speech is so inspiring? 

Ans: Yes, it is true that it is not easy to motivate others. I think Steve Jobs’ speech is really inspiring because he has delivered his real life story sincerely and with full of feelings and emotions. We can find that many people have a similar life story which touches them very much. Furthermore, personal style is a very effective way of presentation which touches the audience as their own life story and they will be inspired to do something in their life.

f. Why do you think Steve Jobs used the personal narrative story telling technique in his speech? What influence does it have on the audiences ? 

Ans: I think Steve Jobs used the personal narrative story telling technique in his speech to inspire the audience which would touch them directly and extremely so that they would be motivated to do something in their life despite many struggles, hardships and failures behind their success. It surely has a positive influence on the audience since it is very inspirational for everyone.

Reference beyond the text

a.One of Steve Jobs mottos was: ‘Think differently’. Can this make a person succeed in life? What challenges are there in thinking differently?

Ans: Yes, one of Steve Jobs mottos was: Think differently’. Of course, this can make a person succeed in life. If we do not think differently to do any work, our work and its result remains the same. Nothing will be new and changed in our work and that may create irritation and monotony in our working style and we may like to abandon it. To change our life as well as the society, we have to think differently and act differently. We must have a new idea or vision to do the tasks differently as people in the society always want to see the new things. Because of different thinking, we have seen miracles; and one of the burning examples for us is Steve Jobs himself. It is said that successful people do not do a different task but they do the task differently as they think differently to do. They can be blamed as lunatic and may become alone when they try to do the things differently. So, be crazy, think and act differently to change the world.

b. What does the slogan “Stay hungry; stay foolish” mean to you?

Ans: The slogan “Stay hungry; stay foolish means we should not run after the facilities and luxuries to get a success in our life. Ignoring such things, if we work hard and remains crazy and foolish despite the people’s blame in our work, we can change our own life, society, and the whole world as Steve Jobs has done.

c. What does it mean to be a visionary? What makes Steve Jobs different from a fortune teller? 

Ans: To be a visionary means set a goal(s) and think and act differently to get an achievement in our work which directly benefits the society and the world. Steve Jobs is different from a fortune teller because a fortune teller just makes predictions without any experiment whereas Steve Jobs has experimented his assumptions/predictions and if one experiment does not work, then he applies another experiment to meet his vision. So, a fortune teller just makes a prediction but a visionary person sets a goal (s) and strives differently to meet his/her goal.