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Wallpapers and Steve Jobs

Posted on Sep 17, 2019
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I have this wallpaper on the home screen of my phone. I like to think of my wallpaper as an opportunity to motivate myself – send myself a message every time I look at my phone. The wallpaper says ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.’
What does it mean to stay hungry, and to stay foolish?
Moreover, how is this quote relevant to students?
What does hunger imply anyway? Why would people want to ‘stay hungry and foolish’ when they can ‘stay fulfilled and stay smart’?

Our mind, and most of the people around us — will always want us to play it safe. The uncertainties accompanying the road less traveled by is what usually weighs down upon our decisions. In many ways, we all often settle for “just good enough.” And, that is precisely why Jobs advised on pushing the boundaries.

“Whenever I am tempted to do the thing that’s comfortable — the stuff that feels safer — in the back of my mind I note that it is because my fears are ruling my decisions.”

Over the years, I’ve started to realize the underlying catch in playing safe. Unlike the perils of risk-taking, we seldom hear anything about the risks of playing safe.

Take for instance the story of Steven Sasson .
Sasson invented the first digital camera at Eastman Kodak in 1975. Fast forward to 2012, KODAK filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. Obviously, it wasn’t because of the technology. It was because they failed to grasp the underlying thought behind this technology. Many suggest that it was their success that blinded them and KODAK completely missed the rise of digital technologies. By the time they actually realized this, the damage was already done. Kodak failed to recognize the disruption and the growth attached to it. They played too safe, fell into a comfortable lull, and were overtaken by others that came after.

I have learned a valuable lesson from the fall of Kodak. Whenever I am tempted to do the thing that’s comfortable — the stuff that feels safer — in the back of my mind I note that it is because my fears are ruling my decisions. I’ve learned to stay hungry. I have learned to stay foolish.

Pushing boundaries is what differentiates the greats from the herd. We run out of time, energy and out of money, ending up with an inferior product or a tedious job. Each time we settle for something of lesser value, we devalue our own lives.

I often go back to the (old) ad campaigns of Apple. Their campaigns along with the underlying thought of doing something new never ceases to amaze me. Think about this – despite its reputation for being innovative, most of the apple products, including laptops, desktops, phones, tablets, MP3 players existed before. But for each product, Apple took time to understand how these devices can fit into our day to day life. They pushed technology and laid stress on user-friendliness while keeping the performance at par with other companies.

The world doesn’t consider Steve Jobs to be a perfect person and honestly, I agree with that. I know, with all his general conduct and demeanor, he might not be an ideal role model for youngsters. But at the same time, I believe that everyone can learn a something (a lot actually) from his life and his ideologies. I have learned to question everything and challenge the status quo. I have learned to push the boundaries.
And that is what it means to me to stay hungry and to stay foolish. My wallpaper inspires me to become a better version of myself – to stay hungry and never be content. What I have right now is inadequate because there is always room for improvement.
Getting to know Steve Jobs changed my thought process. Maybe it’ll change yours too.

Following is the script used by Apple for its Think Different advertising campaign in 1997:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Rob Siltanen
(Siltanen & Partners, 1997)

Guest blog by Rishabh Kumar. Rishabh is currently pursuing an Integrated Masters in Geophysics at IIT Kharagpur. He spent the summer at ReachIvy as a Project Management Associate. Passionate about learning, he is on a lifelong quest of learning and discovery- doing work that helps make the world a better place. In his spare time, he likes to play chess and read books.