Archive for the ‘Perspectives’ Category

Things to GIVE UP to be successful!

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Originally appeared on by Zdravko Cvijetic.

Somebody once told me the definition of hell: “On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become. — Anonymus

Sometimes, to become successful, we do not need to add more things, we need to give up on some of them.

Even though each one of us has a different definition of success, there are certain things that are universal, which, if you give up on them, you will be more successful.

Some of them you can give up today, while it might take a bit longer for others.

1. Give Up On The Unhealthy Lifestyle

Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live. — Jim Rohn

If you want to achieve anything in life, everything starts here. First, you have to take care of your health, and there are only two things you need to keep in mind:

  1. Healthy Diet
  2. Physical Activity

Small steps, but you will thank yourself one day.

2. Give Up The Short-term Mindset

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. — Mae West

Successful people set long-term goals, and they know that these aims are merely the result of short-term habits that they need to do every day.

These healthy habits should not be something you do; they should be something you are.

There is a difference between: “Working out to have summer body” and “Working out because that is who you are.”

3. Give Up Playing Small

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson

If you never try and take great opportunities, or allow your dreams to become realities, you will never realize your true potential.

Moreover, the world will never benefit from what you could have achieved.

So voice your ideas, don’t be afraid to fail, and certainly don’t be afraid to succeed.

4. Give Up Your Excuses

It is not about the cards you are dealt, but how you play the hand. – Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Successful people know that they are responsible for their life, no matter their starting point, weaknesses, and past failures.

Realizing that you are entirely responsible for what happens next in your life, is both frightening and exciting.

However, it is the only way that you can reach the success because excuses limit and prevent us from growing personally and professionally.

Own your life; no one else will.

5. Give Up The Fixed Mindset

The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.  ― Robert Greene, Mastery

In a fixed mindset, people believe that their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits and that talent alone creates success — without effort. They are wrong.

Moreover, successful people know this. They invest an immense amount of time on a daily basis to develop a growth mindset, acquire new knowledge, learn new skills and change their perception so that it can benefit their lives.

Remember, who you are today, it is not whom you have to be tomorrow.

6. Give Up Believing In The “Magic Bullet.”

Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better. — Émile Coué

Overnight success is a myth.

Successful people know that making small continuous improvement every day, will be compounded over time, and give them desired results.

That why you should plan for the future, but focus on the day that’s ahead of you, and improve just 1%.

7. Give Up Your Perfectionism

Shipping beats perfection. — Kahn Academy’s Development Mantra

Nothing will ever be perfect, no matter how much we try.

Fear of failure (or even fear of success) often prevents us from taking action and putting our creation out there in the world. However, many opportunities will be lost if we wait for things to be right.

So, “ship,” and then improve (that 1%).

8. Give Up Multi-tasking

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.  ― Winston S. Churchill

Successful people know this. That is why they choose one thing and then beat it into submission. No matter what, a business idea, a conversation, or a workout.

Being fully present and committed to one task, is indispensable.

9. Give Up Your Need to Control Everything

Some things are up to us, and some things are not up to us. — Epictetus, Stoic philosopher

Differentiating these two is important.

Detach from the things you cannot control, and focus on the ones you can, and know that sometimes, the only thing you will be able to monitor is your attitude towards something.

Moreover, remember, nobody can be frustrated while saying “Bubbles” in an angry voice.

10. Give Up Saying YES To Things That Don’t Support Your Goals

He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly. — James Allen

Successful people know this that to accomplish their goals, they will have to say NO to tasks, activities, and demands from your friends, family, and colleagues.

On a short-term, you might sacrifice a bit of instant gratification, but when your goals come to fruition, it will be worth it.

11. Give Up The Toxic People

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn

People we spend the most time with, add up to whom we become.

There are less ambitious people, and there are more ambitious people than us. If you spend time with the ones that are less driven than you, your average will go down, and with it your success.

However, if you spend time with people more advanced than you, no matter how challenging that might be, you will be more successful.

Take a look at around yourself, and see if you need to make any changes.

12. Give Up Your Need To Be Liked

The only way to avoid pissing people off is to do nothing important. — Oliver Emberton

Think of yourself as a market niche.

There will be many people that like that niche, but there will be individuals who do not, and no matter what you do, you will not be able to make an entire market like you.

This is entirely natural, and there’s no need to do anything to justify yourself.

The only thing you can do is continue being authentic, and know that growing number of “haters” means that you are doing important things.

13. Give Up Your Dependency on The Social Media & Television

The trouble is, you think you have time. — Jack Kornfield

Impulsive web browsing and television watching is a disease of today’s society.

These two should never be an escape from your life or your goals.

Unless your goals depend on either, you should minimize (or eliminate) your dependency on them. Moreover, direct that time towards things that can enrich your life.

Call To Action

If you want to increase your productivity and eliminate procrastination, check out the free guides below.

  1. The Ultimate Productivity Cheat Sheet – Readdle Edition
  2. New Year’s Resolution Worksheet

Turning Potential into Success

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Organizations around the world are failing on one key metric of success: leadership development. According to research from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), 66% of companies invest in programs that aim to identify high-potential employees and help them advance, but only 24% of senior executives at those firms consider the programs to be a success. A mere 13% have confidence in the rising leaders at their firms, down from an already-low 17% just three years ago. And at the world’s largest corporations—which each employ thousands of executives—a full 30% of new CEOs are hired from the outside.

The problem isn’t a lack of internal talent. At Egon Zehnder we’ve been measuring executive potential for more than 30 years, and we’ve identified the predictors that correlate strongly with competence at the top. The first is the right motivation. This generally means a fierce commitment to excel in the pursuit of big, collective goals but, to a great extent, is contextual. For example, the leaders of a large charity and of an investment bank will need different kinds of motivation. This predictor can’t easily be rated or compared meaningfully across individuals. However, the other predictors—curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination—can be measured and compared. And when we look at how managers in our global database (who come from thousands of companies in all sectors and are mostly in the top three levels of the hierarchy) score on those four key hallmarks, we find that 72% of them demonstrate the potential to grow into C-suite roles. In addition, 9% have what it takes to become competent CEOs.

Unfortunately, many organizations haven’t figured out how to fully develop their prospective leaders. That limits these people’s advancement and eventually their engagement and, ultimately, leads to turnover. Recent research from Gallup shows that 51% of U.S. managers feel disconnected from their jobs and companies, while 55% are looking for outside opportunities. And the problem cascades down: According to two comprehensive studies from, the most popular U.S. job-search website, 71% of employees are either actively hunting for or open to a new job, while 58% review postings at least monthly. The average rate of employee turnover (of which about three-quarters is voluntary) has been growing steadily for the past six years. In 2016 it hit a new high of 20.3% in the United States, and it’s much higher in the most attractive sectors. The stats in other countries are comparable.

Low engagement and high turnover are extremely costly for organizations, especially if the people jumping ship are high potentials in whom much has already been invested. How can companies prevent this massive waste of talent and create more-effective development programs?

  • First, by determining the most important competencies for leadership roles at their organizations. In our leadership advisory services at Egon Zehnder, we’ve identified seven that we believe are crucial for most executive positions at large companies: results orientation, strategic orientation, collaboration and influence, team leadership, developing organizational capabilities, change leadership, and market understanding. In addition, many leading companies are finding that an eighth—inclusiveness—is essential to executive performance.
  • Second, by rigorously assessing the potential of aspiring managers: checking their motivational fit and carefully rating them on the four key hallmarks—curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination.
  • Third, by creating a growth map showing how a person’s strengths in each of the hallmarks aligns with the competencies required in various roles.
  • Fourth, by giving high potentials the right development opportunities—including job rotations and promotions they might not seem completely qualified for but that fit their growth maps—as well as targeted coaching and support.

Companies like Japan Tobacco and Prudential PLC, the British multinational life insurance and financial services group, have used this approach to enhance their talent development programs and boost their internal leadership pipelines. Following it requires deep commitment from senior executives and some investment in the human resources function. But the cost of inaction is greater: As competition for smart and able managers heats up around the world, organizations can’t keep ignoring and demoralizing internal talent while filling their C-suites with expensive external hires. They must learn to grow their own leaders.

Getting a Read on Needs and Skills

Before an organization can begin mapping managers’ potential to required competencies, it must determine what exactly it needs. That will vary from business to business. A company recently acquired by a private equity firm would probably want to make results orientation a priority, while the management of an old-fashioned bank trying to stay relevant in a digital age might need keen market understanding and a strategic orientation.

Requirements will vary from role to role within firms as well. Let’s consider the competencies that the board of one pharmaceutical company we worked with projected that its CEO, CFO (who was also the chief strategy officer), and business unit heads would need three years down the road, given its midterm strategy. Like all chief executives, the CEO had to have strong strategic and results orientations. But this particular company was trying to adapt to the digital era and to become more diverse in its people and more flexible in its way of working, so the board also highlighted inclusiveness and team and change leadership as priorities. For the CFO—who would be tasked with overseeing the implementation of the new strategies—collaboration and influence, change leadership, and strategic orientation were deemed must-haves. And for the unit heads, who would be on the front lines of strategic and cultural change and also responsible for hitting demanding budgets, the key competencies were results orientation, developing organizational capabilities, team leadership, and inclusiveness.

Your organization should similarly aim to identify the competencies that are most crucial for its top roles in light of its own challenges and goals. We suggest rating the level of proficiency needed in each competency for each role on a scale from 1 to 7. (For a more detailed explanation of how to translate skill levels into numerical scores, see the exhibit “Levels of Competence.”) C-level positions typically require a rating of at least 4 in the competencies critical for those roles, and CEO positions, a rating of at least 5.

Levels of Competence

We evaluate executives on their mastery of eight leadership competencies (listed in the far left column), assessing where they fall on a spectrum from 1 (baseline) to 7 (extraordinary). We have found that four traits—curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination—predict how far managers will progress. Below each competency are the traits linked to strength in it.

You should cascade this process down through the ranks so that you have a clearer idea of the key skills needed to do lower-tier managerial jobs, too. With all positions, however, you must resist the temptation to demand high levels of all competencies, because you’ll never find leaders who are perfect. In a study of more than 5,000 executives at 47 companies we conducted with McKinsey, we found that only 1% had an average proficiency score of 6 or better, and just 11% had an average score of 5. So even for the most senior positions, you should seek above-par scores in most competencies and stand-out scores in just two or three.

The next step is to comprehensively assess future leaders’ current competencies and their potential for growth. You can do this through a deep review of their work experience; direct questioning; and conversations with their bosses, peers, and direct reports. To get the best information out of people and their colleagues, pose open-ended questions and probe. For instance, to get a read on how much determination managers have, ask about a time something went badly for them and how they responded. To assess their competence at developing organizational capabilities, press for details about the people they’ve mentored. You should score each person on each hallmark of potential; at Egon Zehnder we use a scale of 1 (emerging) to 4 (extraordinary) for this. You should also score each person on his or her current level of each core competency (using the 1-to-7 scale), creating a snapshot of where he or she stands.

Resist the temptation to demand high levels in all competencies.

With this information, you can now take the critical third step: predicting where each executive is likely to succeed. Having compared our 30 years’ worth of executives’ baseline scores with information about their eventual career growth, we can tell you that there are patterns in how individual hallmarks translate to the eventual mastery of leadership competencies. Curiosity is significantly correlated with all eight, so strong scores in it are a prerequisite for anyone being considered for development and promotion. However, the three other hallmarks are each correlated with different competencies and can therefore help us project how leaders will develop. For example, and perhaps not surprisingly, insight is a good predictor of the ability to develop a strategic orientation and market understanding. On a more granular level, we estimate that someone with a score of at least 3 (out of 4) on that hallmark (and on curiosity) should be able to achieve, with the right support, a level 5 competency (out of 7) in strategic orientation. We’ve also found that people with high determination scores can build the strongest results orientation and change leadership competencies, while those with high engagement scores are likely to be strongest in team leadership, collaboration and influence, and developing organizational capabilities.

Armed with assessments of your emerging leaders’ current competencies and potential for growth in each area, you will be in a much better position to make development and succession plans throughout your organization. And that will help you ensure that you have a strong pipeline of people to fill C-suite roles in the future.

The experiences of a major global manufacturer we advised illustrate how this works. The company’s CEO was due to retire in a year, and the board was trying to decide who should replace him. When we appraised two internal candidates, X and Y, we found that they had comparable strengths but very different profiles. At the time X, a veteran operator in the company’s core business, had a higher level of two competencies critical to the CEO job—results orientation and market understanding. But his lower scores on determination, insight, and curiosity revealed that his potential for growth was more limited. Y, who had come up through the ranks in an emerging business, was by contrast slightly weaker on current competencies but, with strong scores on all the hallmarks, showed significantly more potential to perform well as a CEO.

Comparing Two Candidates

When X and Y are evaluated on their current levels of the competencies needed for the CEO position at a global manufacturer, X looks like the better candidate. He is closer to the company’s targets for the role.

But when potential is measured, Y begins to shine. His assessment indicates that he could develop his skills beyond X’s.

When the board reviewed these findings, a heated discussion ensued. One senior director argued adamantly for the appointment of X, who had slightly stronger competencies and had deep exposure to the core business. Another director strongly favored Y because of his higher potential. A third director favored an external search given the need for a fully qualified, competitive CEO in just one year. Eventually, the group landed on a creative solution: Ask the current chief executive to stay an extra year, during which he and the board could offer customized development programs to both internal candidates and then monitor their growth.

This is the fourth key step in turning high potentials—at all levels—into leaders: Give them the opportunities, coaching, and support they need to close the gap between their potential and their current competencies. For example, a highly curious, insightful person might be assigned to strategic-planning and innovation projects. Highly determined people should be involved in business-unit turnarounds and cultural-change efforts. Employees with high levels of engagement should be asked to manage small teams and work with key clients.

Well-planned job rotations are also crucial. A survey of 823 highly successful senior executives conducted by Egon Zehnder revealed that the vast majority of them consider stretch assignments and job rotations to be the most important way to accelerate a career. Yet according to a yearly survey of 500 companies by HBS professor Boris Groysberg, these talent practices are actually ones that organizations are the worst at.

The most effective rotations are tailored to individuals’ development needs. To strengthen results orientation, for instance, you should move managers through jobs where they’ll have P&L responsibility, oversee a start-up initiative, or help implement a restructuring. If the goal is to strengthen someone’s inclusiveness competency, rotations through regional businesses and corporatewide functions are a good approach. (For more on how to use assignments to build specific competencies, see the exhibit “Matching the Hi-Po to the Job.”)

Matching the Hi-Po to the Job

Specific kinds of stretch assignments help executives build individual leadership competencies. To strengthen their results orientation, for instance, you can put them in jobs where they’ll manage a P&L, run a start-up, or oversee a restructuring.


To help your high potentials build their strengths and make the most of opportunities, you can provide individual coaching and group interventions (which might, say, help their teams create a better sense of identity and purpose). At the global manufacturer that was preparing to replace its CEO, candidate X was given coaching to help him build people-related competencies, while candidate Y was tasked with leading P&L improvements in multiple regions to increase his market understanding and his inclusiveness, which were significantly below the level the firm thought a “fully qualified” CEO should have. A year later the executives were assessed again, and while both had improved, Y’s growth well outpaced that of X, to the point where their competencies were nearly equal. The board decided to offer the CEO job to Y, who went on to successfully implement major change programs and growth initiatives, including mergers and acquisitions. He quadrupled the company’s operating income while increasing return on equity from 3% to 11%.

An example of how targeted development works at lower levels comes from an Asia-based global manufacturer, whose CEO was concerned about the slow progress of a diversity initiative. One of its goals was to propel women up the ranks, but none had so far been identified as high potentials by their bosses. The CEO decided to launch a pilot program that involved assessing 10 female managers selected by the head of HR for both potential and competence. The results were striking: The assessments showed that most of them had the attributes necessary to succeed in senior executive roles down the road.

Z, a 30-something corporate planning officer, was one of the women selected. Because of her strong curiosity and engagement, her average potential competency was a high 4.7, but her average current competency score was a low 2.6. And in a couple of areas—strategic orientation and the development of organizational capabilities—she fell well under the target levels for her next possible role and far short of those needed for more-senior jobs.

Capturing the Female Advantage

Women are still underrepresented in the top echelons of corporations today. In an effort to learn why, we dug into our global database of ratings of executives’ potential and competence, to see how the women compared with their male counterparts. The results were telling:

On average, women’s scores trail men’s on five of the seven key competencies of leaders. While all the differences are statistically significant, they’re large in only two areas: strategic orientation and market understanding.

However, women score higher than men on three of the four hallmarks of potential—curiosity, engagement, and determination—while men have a slightly stronger level of insight. Again, the differences are statistically significant but not too large, except in the case of determination, where the female executives we’ve assessed scored much higher than their male peers.

How can we reconcile these findings? Why do women have higher potential but less competence than men? We believe it’s because women are typically not given the roles and responsibilities they need to hone critical competencies. How can you develop team leadership if you’re not given the chance to manage a team, or strengthen your strategic orientation if you never participate in any planning discussions or strategic projects?

However, further research showed that the company had failed to help her build those skills. She’d never been asked to manage her own team or lead strategy projects. Her bosses worried about “burdening” someone so “junior” with such big assignments, and Z herself admitted that she lacked confidence.

But the assessment results helped change those attitudes. As the person with the strongest potential scores among all her peers in her department, Z started to get—and embrace—more challenging work. The CEO soon appointed her to head up strategy at a large U.S. subsidiary and supported her by enrolling her in an executive business program and asking the chief human resources officer to serve as her mentor. Z spent a year and a half overseeing multinational projects and proved to be an excellent team builder and strategist. The CEO then asked her to return to headquarters and promoted her to head of alliance management, where she is now effectively leading a sizable group.

Organizations must make trade-offs between current competence and potential.

The stories of Z and X and Y highlight the fact that for most executive appointments, and especially successions at the top, organizations must make trade-offs between current competence and development potential. A sound estimate of how far each of your top leaders can go will allow you to do that in a less risky, more effective way.

Real Results in Practice

When companies take this approach to leadership development—focusing on potential and figuring out how to help people build the competencies they need for various roles—they see results.

Shortly after Japan Tobacco’s privatization, in 1985, the company decided to globalize and to diversify into various businesses, including food and pharmaceuticals. Because of this it needed a new class of leaders. But in Japan hiring executives from the outside has long been highly unusual. In addition, most companies still tend to favor tenure over competence or potential in promotions. Japan Tobacco decided to stick with the first tradition but abandon the second. It began to rigorously assess current leaders’ potential and accelerate their development through frequent rotations and focused training. Since then, the company’s high potentials have been “owned” by HR and “leased” to key departments under an initiative, currently labeled New Leadership Program, that is constantly tweaked with an eye toward future business scenarios. This approach to leadership development, together with sound strategic decisions, has produced impressive corporate results: After acquiring the British company Gallaher, in 2007, Japan Tobacco became the third-largest global player in the cigarette sector, and thanks to its profitable diversification across geographies and industries, it became the sixth-largest Japanese company in corporate value across all sectors.

Four years ago, Prudential PLC also decided to redesign its leadership development practices to match its global ambitions. At the time, management acknowledged that the existing talent-review process was “assessment-heavy but insight-light” and too focused on current capabilities. Senior leaders set out to revamp it by emphasizing rigorous succession planning across all divisions and regions. Though this change was led by the executive committee and board, development now cascades up rather than down and starts with conversations between HR leaders and line managers, who have been trained to spot future stars. Team managers openly discuss business imperatives, critical roles, and successors, all through the lens of potential, and unit leaders report back up to the group’s CHRO and CEO, Tim Rolfe and Mike Wells, sharing details about why people were deemed high potentials and how over time they can grow into different roles across the organization. What have the results been? In 2016, Prudential had 19 openings in its top 100 global roles, including five at the executive committee level, and all but one were filled through internal promotions. The new approach has helped the firm find great leaders even for its most quantitative and analytical businesses, such as asset management, and allowed it to put unexpected people in highly critical roles. For example, Prudential recently announced that it would move Raghu Hariharan, the director of strategy and capital market relations in the group head office, into a position as CFO of the firm’s Asia business.

More organizations should follow these models. A scientific approach to talent development—focused on spotting high potentials, understanding their capacity for growth in key competencies, and giving them the experience and support they need to succeed—will be an extraordinary source of competitive advantage in the coming decades. And it will help many more managers transform themselves into the great leaders they were always meant to be.


Sunday, July 23rd, 2017


乔布斯在 2015 年斯坦福毕业典礼上的演讲,传递出他对待「死亡」的态度。他认为死亡是生命最好的一项发明。它推动生命的更替,也催人思考,在有限的时间里为什么而活、怎么活这些重要的问题。乔布斯每日清晨的习惯是叩问自己,“如果今天是我生命里的最后一天,我是否依然会去做我计划今天要做的事情?”当心里连续出现几次“不”的时候,他就知道自己应该要改变些什么了。

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 sans 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 10 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, it’s 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 backward 10 years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. 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 4,000 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 world’s 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 it’s 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 1960s, 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.



第一个故事讲的是点与点之间的关系。我在里德学院(Reed College)只读了六个月就退学了,此后便在学校里旁听,又过了大约一年半,我彻底离开。那么,我为什么退学呢?这得从我出生前讲起。我的生母是一名年轻的未婚在校研究生,她决定将我送给别人收养。她非常希望收养我的是有大学学历的人,所以把一切都安排好了,我一出生就交给一对律师夫妇收养。没想到我落地的霎那间,那对夫妇却决定收养一名女孩。就这样,我的养父母─当时他们还在登记册上排队等著呢─半夜三更接到一个电话: “我们这儿有一个没人要的男婴,你们要么?”“当然要”他们回答。但是,我的生母后来发现我的养母不是大学毕业生,我的养父甚至连中学都没有毕业,所以她拒绝在最后的收养文件上签字。不过,没过几个月她就心软了,因为我的养父母许诺日后一定送我上大学。

17 年后,我真的进了大学。当时我很天真,选了一所学费几乎和斯坦福大学一样昂贵的学校,当工人的养父母倾其所有的积蓄为我支付了大学学费。读了六个月后,我却看不出上学有什么意义。我既不知道自己这一生想干什么,也不知道大学是否能够帮我弄明白自己想干什么。这时,我就要花光父母一辈子节省下来的钱了。所以,我决定退学,并且坚信日后会证明我这样做是对的。当年做出这个决定时心里直打鼓,但现在回想起来,这还真是我有生以来做出的最好的决定之一。从退学那一刻起,我就可以不再选那些我毫无兴趣的必修课,开始旁听一些看上去有意思的课。 那些日子一点儿都不浪漫。我没有宿舍,只能睡在朋友房间的地板上。我去退还可乐瓶,用那五分钱的押金来买吃的。每个星期天晚上我都要走七英里,到城那头的黑尔-科里施纳礼拜堂去,吃每周才能享用一次的美餐。我喜欢这样。我凭著好奇心和直觉所干的这些事情,有许多后来都证明是无价之宝。


当时我并不指望书法在以后的生活中能有什么实用价值。但是,十年之后,我们在设计第一台 Macintosh 计算机时,它一下子浮现在我眼前。于是,我们把这些东西全都设计进了计算机中。这是第一台有这么漂亮的文字版式的计算机。要不是我当初在大学里偶然选了这么一门课,Macintosh 计算机绝不会有那么多种印刷字体或间距安排合理的字号。要不是 Windows 照搬了 Macintosh,个人电脑可能不会有这些字体和字号。要不是退了学,我决不会碰巧选了这门书法课,个人电脑也可能不会有现在这些漂亮的版式了。当然,我在大学里不可能从这一点上看到它与将来的关系。十年之后再回头看,两者之间的关系就非常、非常清楚了。


我的第二个故事是关于好恶与得失。幸运的是,我在很小的时候就发现自己喜欢做什么。我在 20 岁时和沃兹(Woz,苹果公司创始人之一 Wozon 的昵称─译注)在我父母的车库里办起了苹果公司。我们干得很卖力,十年后,苹果公司就从车库里我们两个人发展成为一个拥有 20 亿元资产、4,000 名员工的大企业。那时,我们刚刚推出了我们最好的产品─ Macintosh 电脑─那是在第 9 年,我刚满 30 岁。可后来,我被解雇了。你怎么会被自己办的公司解雇呢?是这样,随著苹果公司越做越大,我们聘了一位我认为非常有才华的人与我一道管理公司。在开始的一年多里,一切都很顺利。可是,随后我俩对公司前景的看法开始出现分歧,最后我俩反目了。这时,董事会站在了他那一边,所以在 30 岁那年,我离开了公司,而且这件事闹得满城风雨。我成年后的整个生活重心都没有了,这使我心力交瘁。一连几个月,我真的不知道应该怎么办。我感到自己给老一代的创业者丢了脸─因为我扔掉了交到自己手里的接力棒。我去见了戴维•帕卡德(David Packard,惠普公司创始人之一─译注)和鲍勃•诺伊斯(Bob Noyce,英特尔公司创建者之一─译注),想为把事情搞得这么糟糕说声道歉。这次失败弄得沸沸扬扬的,我甚至想过逃离硅谷。但是,渐渐地,我开始有了一个想法─我仍然热爱我过去做的一切。在苹果公司发生的这些风波丝毫没有改变这一点。我虽然被拒之门外,但我仍然深爱我的事业。于是,我决定从头开始。

虽然当时我并没有意识到,但事实证明,被苹果公司炒鱿鱼是我一生中碰到的最好的事情。尽管前景未卜,但从头开始的轻松感取代了保持成功的沉重感。这使我进入了一生中最富有创造力的时期之一。 在此后的五年里,我开了一家名叫 NeXT 的公司和一家叫皮克斯的公司,我还爱上一位了不起的女人,后来娶了她。皮克斯公司推出了世界上第一部用电脑制作的动画片《玩具总动员》(Toy Story),它现在是全球最成功的动画制作室。世道轮回,苹果公司买下 NeXT 后,我又回到了苹果公司,我们在 NeXT 公司开发的技术成了苹果公司这次重新崛起的核心。我和劳伦娜(Laurene)也建立了美满的家庭。


我的第三个故事与死亡有关。17 岁那年,我读到过这样一段话,大意是:“如果把每一天都当作生命的最后一天,总有一天你会如愿以偿。”我记住了这句话,从那时起,33 年过去了,我每天早晨都对著镜子自问: “假如今天是生命的最后一天,我还会去做今天要做的事吗?”如果一连许多天我的回答都是“不”,我知道自己应该有所改变了。


大约一年前,我被诊断患了癌症。那天早上七点半,我做了一次扫描检查,结果清楚地表明我的胰腺上长了一个瘤子,可那时我连胰腺是什么还不知道呢!医生告诉我说,几乎可以确诊这是一种无法治愈的恶性肿瘤,我最多还能活 3 到 6 个月。医生建议我回去把一切都安排好,其实这是在暗示“准备后事”。也就是说,把今后十年要跟孩子们说的事情在这几个月内嘱咐完;也就是说,把一切都安排妥当,尽可能不给家人留麻烦;也就是说,去跟大家诀别。那一整天里,我的脑子一直没离开这个诊断。到了晚上,我做了一次组织切片检查,他们把一个内窥镜通过喉咙穿过我的胃进入肠子,用针头在胰腺的瘤子上取了一些细胞组织。当时我用了麻醉剂,陪在一旁的妻子后来告诉我,医生在显微镜里看了细胞之后叫了起来,原来这是一种少见的可以通过外科手术治愈的恶性肿瘤。我做了手术,现在好了。这是我和死神离得最近的一次,我希望也是今后几十年里最近的一次。有了这次经历之后,现在我可以更加实在地和你们谈论死亡,而不是纯粹纸上谈兵,那就是: 谁都不愿意死。就是那些想进天堂的人也不愿意死后再进。然而,死亡是我们共同的归宿,没人能摆脱。我们注定会死,因为死亡很可能是生命最好的一项发明。它推进生命的变迁,旧的不去,新的不来。现在,你们就是新的,但在不久的将来,你们也会逐渐成为旧的,也会被淘汰。对不起,话说得太过分了,不过这是千真万确的。


我年轻时有一本非常好的刊物,叫《全球概览》(The Whole Earth Catalog),这是我那代人的宝书之一,创办人名叫斯图尔特•布兰德(Stewart Brand),就住在离这儿不远的门洛帕克市。他用诗一般的语言把刊物办得生动活泼。那是 20 世纪 60 年代末,还没有个人电脑和桌面印刷系统,全靠打字机、剪刀和宝丽莱照相机(Polaroid)。它就像一种纸质的 Google,却比 Google 早问世了 35 年。这份刊物太完美了,查阅手段齐备、构思不凡。

斯图尔特和他的同事们出了好几期《全球概览》,到最后办不下去时,他们出了最后一期。那是 20 世纪 70 年代中期,我也就是你们现在的年纪。最后一期的封底上是一张清晨乡间小路的照片,就是那种爱冒险的人等在那儿搭便车的那种小路。照片下面写道: 好学若饥、谦卑若愚。那是他们停刊前的告别辞。

求知若渴,大智若愚。这也是我一直想做到的。眼下正值诸位大学毕业、开始新生活之际,我同样愿大家: 好学若饥、谦卑若愚。


Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

这是一部耗时仅六分钟,却制作筹备了三年的动画短片。它的名字叫《鹬》(yù),是皮克斯(Pixar) 2016 动画长片《海底总动员 2》的贴片广告,也是第 89 届奥斯卡的最佳动画短片。它讲述了一只饥饿的小矶鹬,努力克服恐水症,到海浪肆虐的沙滩上觅食的故事。在这短短的六分钟动画中,我们可以洞见情境管理(Situational Leadership II)的完美演绎,其中包括学习者(小鹬) D1 – D4 的全过程,以及领导者(母鹬)指令行为和支援行为间的变化。让我们一起来细细玩味。




Sunday, August 7th, 2016

让我们透过几段广告视频一起去感悟和体味 Apple 笃信的理念和价值观。

Design by Apple

Our Signature


Your Verse

Think Different by Steve Jobs


Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

535 字,3 分 56 秒,2015 年在北大。饶毅教授的演讲堪称史上最短的毕业典礼致辞!人生的道路上,可以有“大成功”,也可以有“小成功”,还可以“不成功”,但不能有“自大”,不能有“缺德”,不能有“违法”。希望每个生命都能绽放「物性的神奇和人性的可爱」。在又一个毕业季里分享演讲视频给大家,与君共勉。


在祝福裹着告诫呼啸而来的毕业季,请原谅我不敢祝愿每一位毕业生都成功、都幸福 ; 因为历史不幸地记载着:有人的成功代价是丧失良知 ; 有人的幸福代价是损害他人。

从物理学来说,无机的原子逆热力学第二定律出现生物是奇迹 ; 从生物学来说,按进化规律产生遗传信息指导组装人类是奇迹。

超越化学反应结果的每一位毕业生都是值得珍惜的奇迹 ; 超越动物欲望总和的每一位毕业生都应做自己尊重的人。

过去、现在、将来,能够完全知道个人行为和思想的只有自己 ; 世界上很多文化借助宗教信仰来指导人们生活的信念和世俗行为 ; 而对于无神论者——也就是大多数中国人——来说,自我尊重是重要的正道。




我祝愿:退休之日,你觉得职业中的自己值得尊重;迟暮之年,你感到生活中的自己值得尊重。不要问我如何做到,50 年后返校时告诉母校你如何做到:在你所含全部原子再度按热力学第二定律回归自然之前,它们既经历过物性的神奇,也产生过人性的可爱。