One commentator called it a “talk for the ages.” It’s the commencement address Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University in 2005, which you can access by clicking here or watch below.
After reading numerous tributes, reflections and analyses about this once-in-a-blue-moon innovator and his accomplishments, it was enlightening to hear Jobs — part wizened college dropout, circa 1972, part Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker with a touch of a 21st century Thomas Edison — speak in his own words to this smart, young audience of newly minted grads.
“You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever,” the co-founder of Apple intoned. “This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Steve Jobs and boats? He would have gotten the joystick instantly. Isn’t that just his kind of easy-to-use technology — an elegant, ergonomic controller that gives the user the ability to crab a 70-footer sideways or hold station in a current or spin nearly in its own length? All with the movement of a wrist or finger. So intuitive that a kid can learn to use it in a half-hour.
As an industry, we are moving ever faster and deeper into a world where the complexity behind all the technology that goes into our boats vanishes and what remains for the consumer is a stick or a touch screen or some other remote device that will control the vessel and then some. We’re not there yet, but we inch closer all the time.
It’s the future, and no amount of decrying by the ancient mariners among us will stop this tide. And down the road, technology and innovation that seem so gee-whiz today will feel as natural as cotton sails and one-lunger engines did once upon a time. That’s the way of the world. Remember the little Garmin GPS 48 handheld?
Several years back I had a bumper sticker on the back of my old Volvo 240 wagon that read: “Life is too short to own an ugly boat.” It’s a message that might have appealed to Jobs, the brash, confident master of his generation at melding technology and design to produce the clean, distinctive aesthetic embodied in a long line of creations, from the Macintosh computer to the iPhone.
He’d appreciate the presumption and audacity in the suggestion that somewhere out there exists (or should exist) an aesthetically superior alternative to the norm. The beautiful boat with the stirring, flowing lines and all the rest. Anything other than one more brand of vanilla ice cream — one more plain-Jane boat.
The billionaire visionary shaped and reshaped our notion of beauty and functionality. He challenged the status quo and pushed the boundaries that we mere mortals considered possible. And he urged those young men and women at Stanford to: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” A mantra for the young and the young at heart.
“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.”