The Last Class

Today, Friday, was our last class of our program. Our fourth quarter will be solely focused on a thesis. In what is likely the final class of my academic career, I happen to be giving a presentation, along with two others, on a case study of Apple Inc. and Steve Jobs' strategic leadership and innovation within the company. Our analysis will include how the company might go on in a future that will surely not always have this visionary man. I can't really think of a more interesting way I'd rather spend a last class.

I spent last night poring over youtube videos related to this, from the first commercial for a Macintosh, to Steve Jobs as a very young man introducing their personal computer, with a mouse and graphic interface and everything for the first time. I was also searching for quotes by him, adding to the ones in the case, to illustrate what type of person and leader he is.

I came across the text and the video of his commencement speech at Harvard several years ago. I've seen it a long time ago, but the words were more poignant to me now, although not something I can fit into the presentation, so I chose to fit them in here.

"Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, 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--because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference."

It's amazing to think about the dots that have connected to bring me to this day. Decisions I made several years ago, random things I did a couple years ago, intentional actions I took this last year... all connecting to now. What dots are ahead?

As it happens, the group of three presenting after us in the second half of class showed a short video where a CEO quoted Robert Kennedy in saying "Some see things as they are and say why - I dream things that never were and say why not?" This was my "senior quote"... a common thing in the U.S. where seniors graduating from high school pick a line to go under their photo in the yearbook. Picking that quote, hoping to live by it in the future... that was definitely an important dot that connected to now.

So today, classes end. Next week, finals. And then I dive into our thesis. Following that? Not sure. Just something off the well-worn path.


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