Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stay hungry, stay foolish

The term has almost come to an end. A mere two weeks remain on the schedule. In these two weeks though, your student teams will be very busy with many assignments and tests, and in our professional communication course, preparing for and then presenting your project proposals for change in some area of the NUS curriculum. 

As you know (but I mention for visitors), the project aim is for each student team to follow up the needs analysis research you have done on those communication skills required in a particular workplace and the current communication skill offerings in a related degree program area at NUS and to suggest a plan of action that might assist a specific faculty (school) or department to better prepare its undergraduates for their future. In your 20-minute presentation, you need to convince the (fictitious) NUS Excellence Unit of the soundness of your ideas, explaining why a change is needed and how it might benefit various stakeholders at the university, justifying any of your claims with your secondary and original research findings.

In our most recent tutorial session we discussed presentation preparation tips from the Presentation Zen website created by former Apple employee Garr Reynolds. Hopefully, our review of those tips will aid you in your work for the coming weeks.

With this presentation assignment (and maybe our discussion of Apple) in mind, Deenise, a student in Group 2, posted a free blog post that shares the speech that Apple founder Steve Jobs gave at a recent Stanford University commencement ceremony. In that speech, Jobs recalls three stories from his own life. One of these demonstrates how the choices a person makes each and every day can impact unforeseen future outcomes. What's especially wonderful about the speech is that it also highlights Jobs' own success on a path less taken, as a college drop out. 

I find this inspirational because it shows that it's not just hard work and a commitment to one's values that are important, but also a certain daring. In fact, Jobs ends his speech with a related phrase taken from the back of the last volume of The Whole Earth Catalogone of the hippie bibles from the 1960s and 70s that in its content and ambition was symbolic of "out of the box thinking."  The phrase Jobs quotes is this: "stay hungry, stay foolish."

Stay hungry. Stay foolish. How might these imperatives serve students at Stanford University, and at the National University of Singapore? In my view, "stay hungry" means you don't necessarily have to settle for what satiates you first, for what comes easiest. By staying hungry, you keep alert and always on the move, eyes and ears open for something new, for knowledge, for opportunity. 

"Stay foolish" implies that you should keep your child-like nature, stay in awe. Don't be afraid to amble. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Don't be afraid to reach for the stars. There's also a hint in this phrase of the idea that you shouldn't lose sight that since you're on earth for a very short time, you should make your best effort each day in doing what you enjoy. If you can make what you enjoy your life's work, so much the better. 

How might these words of wisdom connect to the last couple weeks of the semester and the work ahead?  I'd say you (we) should look at what remains as an opportunity, a chance for further growth, another couple enjoyable lessons in the school of life, and a chance for our unique groups to share what we have found, a common cause, clear shared goals and certain camaraderie.  What do you think?


Rohan Rajiv said...

I love the speech as well. It also re-iterates the value of saying 3 things. People tend to remember 'just' 3 things.


Kian Leong said...

I've liked the phrase "stay hungry stay foolish" since I first heard about it from Steve Jobs' speech at Stanford.

As for mistakes, I guess it always hits me hard when I realise I have committed one. The hard part is not getting over it, the hard part is learning from the essence of the mistake; I suppose I can just 'ignore' it to 'get over with' it, but it takes time and effort to truly learn from the mistake.

On an entirely different note, a mistake could be made and it might not be due to insufficient effort. The result could simply mean 'not good enough' on a general scale, but on a personal scale, it could mean an improvement.

Ultimately, one should make the best out of every situation. Especially in learning, the process can never be perfect, but that is why it is called learning; one learns the right and wrong and the ambiguous too!

I am really glad to have the chance to be in this class. So few courses there are where we can express our thoughts while having the possibility of learning beyond the scope of the course.

Lastly, I really like the part "stay foolish". Staying in awe during the learning process really sums up life's journey as AWESOME.

Glenn said...

Hi Brad, I agree with your views on the phrase ‘stay hungry, stay foolish’. ‘Staying hungry’ to me also means being passionate and determined in achieving the goals that you have set out to achieve. This is because once this hunger is lost, we tend to choose to remain in our comfort zone and therefore we will not progress from the level that we are at. The day we stop trying might be the day we stop learning.

I personally like your description for ‘stay foolish’ implying that we should have this child-like nature attitude. Often I find pride an obstacle in the things that I do.


♥tiffany said...

Staying hungry to me means that we should not settle for the easy things that come our way. To me, it means that we have to continuously and relentlessly pursue our aspirations and dreams to the best of our capabilities.
While, staying foolish reminds me that no matter what silly impossible dreams that we have, it could just possibly be achieved. Just like when our forefathers could only dream of what it was like to walk on the moon. History was made in 1969, when man first landed on the moon.

sherlynn said...

Hi Brad!

Happened to drop by your blog and what an inspirational read!

I agree with what you mentioned about staying hungry and foolish. It simply means that we shouldn't stop at what we already have or already know, yet continue to seek for something better out there.

Staying foolish, to me, apart from not being afraid of making mistakes, is not being afraid of asking questions. It also means not being afraid of falling/failing once in a while, because I believe that failures along the way not only makes success at the end more valuable, it also helps in the growth of the person.

Thanks for the motivating post! (:

Ye Thu Win said...

Hi Brad,

An interesting phrase indeed! “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. I generally agree with you on the phrase. But some thoughts pop up in my mind when I read “stay hungry”. Would it be very exhaustive for a person if everyone stays hungry in a very competitive world? I think the world has changed and new generations are forced to be competitive to reach higher achievements. They need to be “hungry”. “Stay foolish” implies me not be arrogant also.

Just my opinion.

Jerone JI LU said...

I do not know whether this is related to your post or not. But when I saw "Stay hungry, stay foolish!", I remembered what my high school principal said to us then. He said:
"Our school aims to be a wide-life zoo rather than those zoos with cages!"
What he meant was he wanted students could find "food" themselves rather than waiting teachers to feed you! And most importantly, your desire to knowledge should be initiated by yourself.