How to Live Before You Die

Exercise: Question & Answers

Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. What is the story about Steve Jobs’ birth?
Steve Jobs was decided to be adopted by college graduates when his mother, an unmarried college student, gave birth to him. A lawyer and his wife were originally intended to adopt him, but since they were expecting a girl, they rejected when he was born. As a result, he was adopted by a couple who had been on the waiting list.

b. What does he mean when he says, “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”?
According to Steve Jobs, we can only connect the dots by looking backwards, rather than forwards. Dots represent various occurrences and situations that seem minor and unimportant in the moment, but have major ramifications when seen in retrospect. Job illustrates this point by sharing his own story of studying calligraphy, which he first dismissed as useless until he used it to create the original Mac’s gorgeous lettering.

c. What happened when Steve Jobs turned 30?
The company that Steve Jobs created and worked for for 30 years fired him.

D. Jobs contends that you need to love to do what you do in order to be great at it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
Jobs has a point, and so do I. When we love something, we put our faith in it. It’s something we like doing. When we are driven to succeed, we achieve great things.

e. Is death really life’s greatest invention?
Death, in my opinion, is the best invention of life. Knowing that we will die helps us make better life choices. A near-death experience teaches us to prioritise our time.

Reference to the context

A. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
“We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.”
i. Who was the baby boy?

Baby Steve Jobs was the baby boy.

ii. What does it imply, “do you want it?”
The biological mother of Steve Jobs urged his parents to take him on the waiting list.

iii. Who does ‘they’ refer to?
‘They’ refers to the parents of Steve Jobs on the waiting list.

b. Explain the following lines:
i. “You have to trust in something destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

Steve Jobs, the CEO and co-founder of Apple Computer, used this phrase in his Stanford University commencement address to encourage everyone to put their faith and confidence in these critical elements to achieve success and greatness.

ii. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
His message on this line is that time moves so fast. Time does not stand still. We need to make the most of the time we have left if we want to see into the future. It’s his belief that we should make the most of the time we have, rather than wasting it by living someone else’s.

c. What does he mean by “don’t settle”?
Jobs’ advice to Stanford grads, and to everyone else, is to “don’t settle.” He tells us to look for a job that we like. When we like what we do, we are more likely to achieve success. The author also advises that we keep looking for such works and don’t stop until we’ve discovered one.

d. Which style of speech is used by the speaker to persuade the audience?
Speaker utilises personal and informal language to convince the audience that it seems to be a narrative type where he attempts to inspire the audience with his real-life experiences for persuasion purposes.

e. It is not easy to motivate others. How do you think Steve Jobs’ speech is so inspiring?
This is a passionate, inspiring and well-structured speech by Steve Jobs. To some extent, each of Steve Jobs’ three tales involves some kind of struggle or self-sacrifice. The speech emphasises the triumph over adversity. The audience will be more inclined to accept the speaker’s advice if they are associated with him or her. The audience bears witness to a real demonstration of this concept. The argument is well-reasoned and not flimsy.

f. Why do you think Steve Jobs used the personal narrative story telling technique in his speech? What influence does it have on the audiences?
Steve Jobs inspired his audience to follow their goals by using the technical technique of personal storytelling. This approach of his can make the story more believable since it actually happened in real life. In his own words, he demonstrates how successful his life and work have been.

Reference beyond the text

a. One of Steve Jobs mottos was: ‘Think differently. Can this make a person succeed in life? What challenges are there in thinking differently?
Yes, we can actually achieve something big if we think differently. We have to make an effort to try something different. We must make a mental reorientation. To make a difference in the world, we need new ways of thinking and doing. Thinking in a new way has a lot of challenges. For example, as a result of Galileo’s conviction that the Earth revolves around the sun, he was accused of heresy and forced to surrender to the Holy Office to begin his trial, but he was later recognized as a great aerospace researcher of all time.

Having a different point of view than the majority may cause people to become isolated. In several past and present incidents, innovators have been humiliated and isolated from their societies due to their inquisitive nature. But, for change, we must think differently.

b. What does the slogan “Stay hungry; stay foolish” mean to you?
Being ready and eager to try new things is summed up in the phrase “Stay hungry; stay stupid.” To learn anything new, one must be eager to put in the effort and see themselves as nave and uneducated.

c. What does it mean to be a visionary? What makes Steve Jobs different from a fortune teller?
Being visionary means to have broader and long term thoughts that can analyze the consequences as well as positive sides of the actions that are being taken at the present. Fortune tellers guess or predict the future which is not always accurate. It does not mean they are visionary. In order to be described as a visionary, one must have a positive outlook for the future. Curiosity, intuition, various ways of thinking, interests, problems and challenges, experience, and trust in destiny are all essential aspects of foresight. Steve was able to get to the top of the technical field because of his foresight. So, Steve Jobs is a visionary rather than a fortune teller because of his upbeat futurepredictions. In fact, to compare Steve Jobs to a fortune teller would be a pointless comparison.


‘How to Live Before You Die,’ a motivational speech given by Apple Computer and Pixar co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs tells three events from his life that have had a significant impact on his professional experiences and journey.

First Story: Connecting the dots
Steve Jobs’ speech begins with the story of connecting the dots. Connecting the dots refers to making connections between different aspects of life in order to better understand them. He speaks about the account of his birth, adoption, and the subsequent struggle as a young man to find purpose in his life. All he points from this story is that we should care even for the smallest things in life because those small things actually determine who we are or who we will be in future.
Steve at 17 enrolled at a prestigious private university called Reed College, but he left after a year because he was interested in taking Calligraphy lessons. So he enrolled in Reed College’s Calligraphy programme, but ten years later, he utilised his calligraphy skills to create the first computer with elegant lettering, which he named Macintosh computer. The notion that various dots continued joining and supporting him to achieve his true goal came from looking back. Dropping out of college, beginning a career in his field of interest, and dealing with adversity and faith in Karma were all decisions that he took along the way that led to his success.

Second Story: Love and Loss
In this section, Steve Jobs describes his feelings about his love and loss of business. As a result of his early success, Steve and his pal Woz founded Apple corporation with long hours of effort and after some time, the tiny business had grown to a 2 billion dollar enterprise with 4000 workers. But, people in authority dismissed him from his own business. Later, he founded NeXT and then Pixar to develop computers with animated features. Later, Apple purchased the NeXT Corporation. He went back to work for the Apple Corporation and combined his previous ideas with his new ones. These events changed his outlook on life and enabled him to dominate the IT industry with his new perspective. As a result, he now wants to spread the message not to lose hope, love your job, and keep searching for employment that you like.

Third Story: Death.
The third and last story deals with passing away. He advises us to live each day as if it were our last. He has described the fear of demise as the biggest motivation for him to do the things in hurry and prioritize the most important things. He has pancreatic cancer, doctor has fixed the date of his death but he has never given up on life. He was able to get the cancer surgically removed. He argues that we have a finite amount of time and should thus not squander it. We should make use of it as soon as possible before we pass away.

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