Monthly Archives: July 2016

Connecting Dots Backward

This post is about the following quote from Steve Jobs.
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An example from his life: He dropped out of college due to various reasons [Read the prestory here].Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.

Summary: He did something which appeared to have no practical application at that time in his limited vision but the universe had a bigger vision for him. We don’t always know what universe has in store for us but it’s infinitely larger than we can ever imagine. We have to trust and take the leap of faith.

An example from my life: A group of about dozen training graduates were selected to join the e-commerce division of software company. I was one of them. One of the graduates – let’s call him Mr.S decided to take a break of three months before joining. Three months pass and one day I hear announcement in office “Anu Sundaram is requested to come to the main reception.” I couldn’t think of who would call for me, anyways I made my way to the reception. Once I reached I saw Mr.S sitting on the couch and nobody else was there. I sat next to him and we chatted for a good few minutes – he had just given his CAT [Exam for MBA entrance]. After a few minutes, I asked him why he paged for me and he responded saying that he hadn’t. Anyways I ended up inviting him for lunch with the rest of graduates – beginning of a life long friendship right there.

Long story short, he did get into one of the top MBA institutions in India and came to NY for training. I was in Phoenix at that time and he came to visit me. And on our way back from Grand Canyon I mentioned to him that I was applying for MBA and would like his help in reviewing my application. He said that he might be able to put me in touch with colleagues who have applied to MBA in US/UK as they have gone through a similar process. And it was through his contact that I managed to get through London Business School which changed the trajectory of my life significantly.

I had no idea that a simple conversation on the couch with a relatively unknown person would lead to such a momentous decision in my life. It does make you wonder how what’s happening in your life now – however insignificant it might seem at this point – will play out in future.

If you find ever wondering why something is happening – be it good or bad remember the following
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