Steve Jobs and the Art of Purpose

By Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch

Originally posted at

In his famous 2005 commencement address at Stanford, Steve Jobs told the graduating class:

“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.” 

As millennials enter the workforce, Steve Job’s advice is more timely than ever, and at the heart of what will shape the future of our economy.  There are 86 million millennials in the US, and by 2025, they will represent 75% of the workforce.  84% of them say that making a positive impact on the world is more important to them than professional recognition.  Millennials are the purpose generation, and as a result, we see the emergence of companies with a “triple bottom line,” of profit, people, and planet.

So how did Steve Jobs live out his purpose at Apple?  Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs includes a chapter of Jobs speaking of his legacy in his own words: 

“My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products.  Everything else was secondary.  Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that’s what allowed you to make great products.  But the products, not the profit, was the motivation.”

His belief was that companies stop innovating when they flip these priorities and their goal is to make money.

“It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything - the people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings." 

Steve Jobs believed that there’s something magical about the place where the humanities and science intersect, and that the reason Apple resonates with people is that there’s a “deep current of humanity in our innovation”. 

“Great artists and great engineers are similar, in that they both have a deep desire to express themselves.  Some of the best people working on the original Mac were poets and musicians on the side…  In the 1970’s computers became a way for people to express their creativity.”

What could be more of an art than finding purpose in your career? is a technology company, but we recognize that if there’s ever a place for the humanities and technology to intersect, it’s in what we do.  When we help people take their strengths and passions to impact a need in the world that they care about, we find that purpose is definitely more of an art than a science.  And intersecting this human element with technology can truly be magical.  Technology can help you find opportunity, but it’s your own heart, mind, and soul that has to guide you.

Near the end of his speech at Stanford, Jobs reflected on his life by saying:

“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.”

So what would Steve Jobs say to this generation of purpose-driven millennials?  How do you find purpose in your career?

"As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."