Steve Jobs was right.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011. Picture from http://www.apple.com

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. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

I first watched his commencement speech back in 2008 before I went to California to attend my brother’s graduation at Stanford University(Oprah Winfrey was the commencement speaker then). At that time I was 20, had just left the army and have been mulling about how to proceed on with my life.

I had a vague dream that one day I could become an Olympic Decathlete but I had no concrete idea or plan on how I was going to go about doing so.

I had no experience, no skill, no parental support, no money and no clue.

My old coach in Singapore, who still holds the Singapore Javelin record, must have thought that I was delusional then when I asked him how much his record was and told him I wanted to break that record in 6 months (I still haven’t after almost 4 years).

But as I wrote about in my second post, I set out to earn enough on my own to pay for my school fees and sustain myself overseas for a couple of years.

I didn’t go into the details in that post but what happened was after I worked in my Dad’s office, I realised that the company was running basically on pen and paper with a few individual computers. There was a desperate need for modernisation of the company and our business practices.

I always have loved technology ever since the first computer my parents have bought for the family and that passion developed into me being an enthusiast who built his own computers from parts bought from Sim Lim Square.

So I set out to modernise the company, but as my Dad was still suspicious of computers being part of the business, he gave me a very limited budget to proceed. I build my own basic server with some spares I had plus a few new components I bought and tried to teach myself all I needed to know about corporate IT infrastructure and administration. That exercise did not end up too well however, but enough to show my Dad the potential benefits and me picking up a whole load of IT skills. (Note to anyone else who’s trying to save money by building your own server: Save yourself the hassle and go buy a basic tower server from a reputable computer company instead. You’ll save more time and money in the long run because you need the reliability between the software and hardware that only those companies can provide.)

That experience then led me into taking advantage of the contacts I have made and the skill set I have gained to sell electronics to corporate clients, some with slight modifications or alterations to meet the clients specific requirements.

My first deal I remember was selling two large flat-screen TVs and a system that could link both of them up to the central AV system. For a day’s work I earned quite a tidy profit. That then pulled me towards the direction of dealing with audio-visual equipments.

Somehow each contract I then dealt with kept getting bigger (funnily a 0 kept being added to the value of the next contract I was able to pull off and before long the volume I was dealing with was huge) and each required just that little bit of extra contacts or skill set I obtained from the previous job to give me the competence to finish the next.

But after 11 months I decided to pull the plug even though my business was at its peak so that I could give my dream a shot. I took my money out and came to Loughborough University.

Next thing I knew the market crashed and the industry I was in suddenly went silent. I probably wouldn’t have much left of what I made if I had stayed on then.

Looking back the dots connected.

So from the bottom of my heart: Thank you Steve, for even though we’ve never met, your words edged me on towards my decision to chase my dreams.

And how do I know he changed the world? My Dad who was never into computers and technology wanted an iPhone. So I got him one (a 3Gs at that time), did all the set up for him and now the iPhone 4 is his most valuable business tool that he uses to make his business decisions on the fly. (Of course that is coupled with the back end system by Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 and the IT infrastructure I had earlier laid down for the company.)

Like what my earlier post mentioned, it’s not about what you do but how you did it. My old Nokia could do almost all the things that an iPhone could in terms of business functions, but my Dad and the other staff just found it too much of a hassle to make use of it. The iPhone came along and as Steve said, changed everything.

Whilst I still personally do not prefer Apple products (I find them too restrictive), I’ve used enough of them to know that they are invaluable to our society and that Steve Jobs had a personal hand in making technology exciting and accessible to millions around the world.

It’s funny how this speech from Steve Jobs has come once again to my attention due to his passing, like 3 years ago, I am staring right into the unknown ahead.

I didn’t get to where I want in the past 3 years and I don’t know how my dots are connecting going forward, but I still trust that the dots will connect in the future, so despite the odds I’m still going to keep on pushing.

RIP Steve, you’ve made your dent in the universe.

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.

Posted from my Mac Mini (which I use occasionally to try my hands on iOS programming).

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