For Auld Lang Syne …


In Memoriam

Auld lang syne.  There are many interpretations of these lyrics, but I’ve always thought of it as a farewell song. So, as 2011 prepares its final curtain call, I would like to pay homage to a few people who have  touched my life — either directly or indirectly. 

Rest in Peace.

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Passion – the key ingredient to success

Many of us are mourning the recent loss of visionary, entrepreneur and philanthropist – Steve Jobs.  I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately and something he once said  struck a very familiar chord with me:   “People with passion can change the world for the better.”   Passion. It seems to be a common element in the DNA of every great innovator.

Take Sir Richard Branson, for example.  As Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group of Companies (a multi-billion dollar, global publishing, retailing, aviation and entertainment conglomerate) based in London, England, Richard Branson has plenty of passion. And chutzpah.

What distinguishes him from so many other brilliant entrepreneurs is that he always has fun.  If asked “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” I would say — without hesitation —  “Richard Branson.”  I admire him. I respect him.  And, he makes me smile.

Here’s what he says about the importance of passion:

“Ideally, since 80 percent of your life is spent working,  you should
start your business around something that is a passion of yours.
If you’re into kite-surfing and you want to become an entrepreneur, do it with kite-surfing. 

Look, if you can indulge in your passion, life will be far more interesting than if you’re
just working. 
You’ll work harder at it, and you’ll know more about it.  But first you
must go out and educate yourself on whatever it is that you’ve decided to do –
know more about kite-surfing than anyone else. That’s where the work comes in.  But if you’re
doing things you’re passionate about, that will come naturally.”

As writers, we should always be passionate about what we write.  Otherwise, why write?  (clearly, it’s not for the money!).

So, follow your passion.  And, as Sir Richard has stated (most likely  with that wonderfully wide, infectious smile of his), “Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes rather than no.”Yes, sir – it is!

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Steve Jobs – gone too soon….and in his own words “how to live before you die”

Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs  – February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011

I am a Baby Boomer. I grew up in a time when I had to use an old Brother typewriter to type up my highschool essays.Then came a few tentative innovations in the evolution of wordprocessing: the Timex Sinclair and the Commodore 64 computer (yikes, we still have them stored somewhere, after all these years!).

Clearly, we all knew  that our generation was going to bear witness to a technological revolution that would change the way we worked, created, and communicated.   And we were not disappointed.  In the mid-1970’s,  young  technology visionairies-turned inventors-turned entrepreneurs led us all into a new era of computers  –  with the introduction of the Mac and the PC.  The names of some of these creative geniuses may sound familiar:  Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and (of course) Bill Gates! These very (very) young men proceeded to take Silicon Valley by a storm!  And their impact was global.

So, yes, I am proud to say that I am part of that idealistic generation of young men and women who participated in a technological renaissance that we will likely not  ever see again … with the exception of  the Millennium’s new breed of tech geniuses who created Google and Facebook.

When I learned that Steve Jobs died two days ago at the very young age of 56,  after a long and brave battle with pancreatic cancer, I was very, very sad.  Gone too soon.

I would have loved to be sitting amongst the Stanford University graduates of 2005 at their Commencement Ceremony, as Steve Jobs imparted some passionate words of wisdom to a whole new breed of young idealists.

Here are some of  the highlights from his Commencement Speech:

On the subject of love and loss:

“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.”

On the subject of death:

” 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……”

“… 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.”

And, Steve Jobs wrapped up his speech with four simple send-off words to the 2005 Stanford graduates  –  words to live by:

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

Rest in peace, Steve.  And, thank you for having shared your dreams with the rest of us.

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