On October 5th Steve Jobs passed away. It was the day after I returned home to Santa Barbara from a trip to New York, and when I found out I was standing in Jill Johnson’s sewing room. We were chatting while she worked on a few dresses for me, when the girl working the front counter popped her head in the back and blurted out, “Steve Jobs died this morning! It’s all over everywhere, Twitter, Facebook, the News…” My heart raced and then sank. “We just lost one of the most influential people of our generation,” I whispered, leaning my right shoulder on Jill’s sewing table, as if trying to somehow prop up my now heavy heart.
Following Steve’s death my friend Mike Lewis, among many others, sent out a particularly great email in which he wrote that Steve will be remembered for what an “amazing innovator & visionary he was, but even more so he will be remembered for inspiring a generation. He often delivered what we didn’t yet know we wanted. That is what being an entrepreneur is about. Taking a chance and sharing your vision with the world of what you think the world should look like.”
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to loose,” Steve said in a riveting commencement speech he gave at Stanford University in June 2005, almost a year after he was diagnosed with cancer. When someone dies they are not remembered for how much money they made, what kind of car they drove, or how many pairs of designer jeans they had in their closet. You might think about these things in relation to the person, but what really matters, and what you will remember, is the way that person touched your life.
The last night I was in New York, (the evening before Steve passed away), I had drinks with one of my best friends from college. She moved to the city after we graduated from UCSB and now works for a bank, but during our conversation, amidst laughing about college memories & gossiping about men, she revisited a common struggle she has been dealing with since graduation. She, like many, has no idea what she wants to “do” with her life. The bank is a job but what did she really want to do? What would make her happy, make her feel fulfilled and still put a roof over her head?
After mulling over a few ideas together Danee said to me,”Whenever I need inspiration I think of you Vanessa. I ask myself what would Vanessa do in this situation? You are one of those people who always does what you say you are going to do, it may take you a while, but you do it.”
So I was sitting at my computer last week thinking about this conversation with my friend & my own entrepreneurial aspirations when I received a very relevant email about faith which said, “Faith is the substance, the strong conviction that creates a physical reality… Faith is the expression of my beliefs in a real and present world, in ways the world can see, relate to, and understand… Faith gets things done, because if its not getting done, then my faith is dead!”
After thinking about this message I realized, that my my entrepreneurial spirit, that leads me to try even though I might fail, is my expression of Faith, in a way the world can see; Faith, not in myself because I’m so fantastic or gifted or talented or anything like that, but Faith in God’s plan for my life and the way my journey is meant touch others. And the only thing that could possibly feel worse then failure is not trying, not allowing the journey to allow me to help others along the way…
Steve Jobs expressed this when he said being an entrepreneur is, “Taking a chance and sharing your vision with the world of what you think the world should look like.” We all have this ability to touch people’s lives with our expression of faith. We all have an opportunity to share our vision of how we think the world should look by taking a chance on our dreams.
My mom died when I was 25. This allowed me to see first hand how fragile life is and that we are here for a very short time. And it’s not about money or a title or anything material, it’s about how we help others through the way we choose to live our life. (Or as my godmother says, “It’s not all about you!”) When you get this truth, you begin to understand that by following your dreams and living your life with passion you have an amazing ability to inspire others. And this is what life is all about. It’s about meeting, connecting & touching people’s lives in a meaningful way. You are here to learn from, inspire and help others, which allows you to show your faith in a concrete way the world can not only see, but feel.
Today I was visiting my chiropractor who is also a good friend. He was asking about all my girlfriends and I was saying how everyone always falls apart at the same time and needs me & sometimes I feel like I can’t handle it. He simply responded, “But you do, and you will because that’s why you are here.” He had no idea I had been writing this blog post over the last week. All I could say was “You’re right, that is why I’m here.”