The story about Steve Jobs began on February 24, 1955 in San Francisco, California. Steve was born to a young unwed graduate student and there was no further mention of his biological father. She was adamant about him being adopted by college graduates because she wanted him to have the best life possible.
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She gave him up for adoption, and he was supposed to be adopted by a lawyer and his wife, but they decided at the last minute that they wanted a girl (Stanford, 2008). His parents, Clara and Paul Jobs received a phone call during the middle of the night stating that there was a baby boy and asking if they wanted him. They said yes, and they have been a family ever since. They gave him the name of Steven Paul Jobs. Ironically, they were not college graduates and when Joanne found out she refused to sign the adoption papers (Stanford, 2008). Clara was an accountant and Paul was a Mechanic. Joanne eventually gave in after they promised her that they would give him the best life that they could and promised that he would go to college.
Steve graduated high school in 1972, and decided to continue his education at Reed College in Portland, Oregon (Stanford, 2008). The required classes that he was enrolled in did not interest him. After about six months of uncertainty about his future, he dropped out. He thought that it was the best decision rather than staying enrolled and taking classes with no plan. Also, it was costly, so he thought it would be selfish and irresponsible for his parents to continue to spend their life savings on his schooling. He did not drop out completely. He found fascination in a Calligraphy class, so he dropped in on that occasionally.
During this time, he slept on the floor of friends rooms, returned coke bottles to five cent deposits to buy food, and walked several miles to get one good meal once a week (Stanford, 2008). The fact that he went through some of the same things that many other college students go through, gives him credibility to give the commencement speech to Stanford’s graduating class of 2005. Although he did not graduate, he is still familiar with some of the life lessons that some college students experience. Fast forward a few years, he and Steve Wozniak started Apple in his parent’s garage when he was twenty years old. Over the next decade, Apple grew from the small startup company in his parent’s garage into a two billion dollar company (Stanford, 2008). Just after his thirtieth birthday, they released the Macintosh.
All of his success came to an abrupt end. He was fired from Apple- the company that he started. Despite the turn of events and public embarrassment, he still felt passionate about his work. As a result of that passion, he started a Company named NeXT, which Apple later purchased and put him back as an employee of the company (Stanford, 2008). He also started Pixar, which created the first computer animated feature film, Toy Story (Stanford, 2008). Amy E. Hurley-Hanson and Cristina M. Giannantonio say that Steve Jobs’ personal story and business success reflect the American Dream, and I can’t agree more (7). After all of his success, it was time for him to find love, and he did- He married Laurene Powell.
The Stanford Commencement speech was given by Steve Jobs as a gift to the graduates to inform them about the story behind his success and how that could relate to them. I chose to observe this speech for many reasons. The first, being that it was easy for me to comprehend, and I found it encouraging myself. The underlying message and lessons that were present throughout the speech were outstanding. I also chose this speech because I knew that Steve Jobs was a college dropout turned billionaire and in moments of discouragement, I believe that it can be me too. I just have to find something great to invent. On a serious note, I was interested in hearing how he would relate his life story to the graduates and the rest of the audience that he was speaking to. I also found it interesting that I am a college student and will have to sit through one soon. Lastly, I chose his speech because I relate to his story about his early life. I was given up for adoption, so what was a small detail to many was an eye-catching one for me.
In regard to the audience, the purpose for the occasion was to honor the 2005 Graduating class from Stanford. The audience’s interest in the occasion was the fact that they were graduating and being rewarded for doing so by getting their diplomas. As for the other members of the audience, their interest was in supporting their friend, family member, or loved one on their accomplishment. The ceremony was held outside, and the audience was made up by about twenty thousand spectators of all age groups, so the ceremony being held outside was a good choice. The environment was conductive to effective listening by the audience, but if the weather conditions were different, it could not have been. The audience’s general disposition to the topic and speaker were friendly and welcoming. After all, they were listening Billionaire, Steve Jobs. They laughed when he made a joke, even when it was not funny. Their disposition to the occasion was probably a mixture of emotions since it was their college graduation, but the most obvious one was happiness.
The general purpose of the speech was to give the graduates a gift of advice, and the specific purpose was to advise them with three stories about his life. The central idea of his speech was the three subtopics and how they related to his life and how they could relate to the audiences lives. The three subtopics were: Connecting the Dots, Love and Loss, and Death. In the first story about Connecting the Dots, Jobs’ supporting material included the story about his early life and adoption, going to and dropping out of college, and the beginning of his career. The second story’s (Love and Loss) supporting material consisted of stories about his career igniting, his career coming to an unanticipated end, and finding his purpose again. In his final story about Death, Steve’s supporting material was found in the stories about how the certainty that we are all going to die and his pancreatic cancer diagnosis. The organization and development of his ideas were well thought out and flowed well in a chronological order. The introduction in comparison to the rest of the speech was adequate.
Stephen Lucas states in The Art of Public Speaking that a wonderfully written speech can be ruined by poor delivery (239). Jobs’ delivery was not poor, but it was not excellent. I would say that it was good and effective. He got his point across and the audience was receptive. He read his speech verbatim from a manuscript and this put a lot of limitations on his speech. In regard to his voice, he spoke with a medium volume- not too loud and not too quiet. His pitch had no inflections and he was pretty much monotone throughout the entirety of the speech except one memorable moment. During his third story, he seems to get comfortable in his speech, and his pitch increases for a brief second, but then he slips back in to his monotone sound. He being monotone also ruined the moments where he wanted to be humorous. He spoke at a steady rate with the exception for the long pauses that were between the first and second as well as the second and third stories.
In regard to the speaker’s body, his appearance was appropriate as he wore the traditional graduation gown. Steve stood behind the podium for the entirety of his speech which is normal for the occasion. He seemed to have shifted his weight from one foot to the other a few times, but not enough to create distraction. Jobs also kept one hand on the top of the podium and the other seemed to be used as a marker for his manuscript. He awkwardly touched his mouth a few times at the beginning of his speech and touched his beard a few times throughout. His eye contact was not the best but it was not poor as he shifted his eyes from the manuscript to the audience. He took a drink of his water toward the end of his speech while the audience applauded. After finishing up his speech, he did not wait to let the final remarks sink in as recommended by Lucas (249). He had no physical visual aids to make use of, but everyone could imagine with their minds all of his inventions since a majority of the audience owns, has used, or even seen a Mac or Apple product.
The audience was polite and helpful in the fact that they laughed and applauded at times where the humor was not as obvious as it could have been if the speaker did not speak in monotone or from a manuscript. The overall effectiveness of the speech was good because, as mentioned before, he got his point across and the audience was receptive. He used a mixture of patterns for presenting his speech. Although it was not explicitly stated, one of the underlying themes of the message was the importance of staying true to oneself, to personal aspirations and values and, above all else, how people might learn from their experience (Richardson and Arthur, 2013).
Overall, he used a chronological organizational pattern which made it easy for the audience to keep up with and interpret. For specific stories, like Connecting the Dots and Death, he used a causal pattern which made them more relatable. For Love and Loss, he used a problem-solution pattern. His points were made at the beginning of the speech, and he addressed each of them in the body. Richardson and Arthur state that while addressing several different themes, each of the stories and the entire speech were permeated by a single underlying message: that people need to listen to their hearts and heads, do what is important to them, pursue their ambitions (46). He supported each of them with evidence from his experiences and told the story in a way that the entire audience could relate. Despite his monotone, he was effective in his purpose, and few entrepreneurs have captures the world’s attention as Steve Jobs did (Hurley-Hanson and Giannantonio, 2013). After listening to this speech I feel better about my journey, and I know that as long as I choose something that I love, I will be happy and motivated to do my best.
Hurley-Hanson, A. E., & Giannantonio, C. M. (2013). Staying Hungry, Staying Foolish: Academic Reflections on the Life and Career of Steve Jobs. Journal of Business & Management, 19(1), 7“9. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=bth&AN=108357845&site=eds-live&custid=s8478310
Lucas, S. E. (1998). The Art of Public Speaking (11th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Richardson, J., & Arthur, M. B. (2013). Just Three Stories: The Career Lessons Behind Steve Jobs’ Stanford University Commencement Address. Journal of Business & Management, 19(1), 45“57. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=bth&AN=108357849&site=eds-live&custid=s8478310
S. (2008, March 07). Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. Retrieved October 22, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc
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