Ashton Kutcher used his recent appearance at the Teen Choice Awards to offer up three life lessons to the kids in the audience. One of those lessons was what he learned from Steve Jobs making the Jobs biopic that opens on Friday.
My thoughts are below the fold, but if you want to simply watch the video, here it is:
The first message Mr. Kutcher delivered was couched in his appearance. The multimillionaire actor and tech entrepreneur dressed in a loose flannel shirt, a T-shirt, jeans, and a trucker hat, all of which harken back to his youth in the midwest.
Thought, the First
Some might interpret that as hipster irony, but he was there to tell the mass of screaming teenage girls (and boys) in the audience three things. The first was that "opportunity looks a lot like hard work," and he drew upon the blue collar laborer jobs he had as a kid. That was the message embedded in his choice of clothes.
"When I was 13," he said, "I had my first job with my dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job at a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground."
And he stressed that he never had a job that he considered beneath him because he was always just thankful he had a job. That's a great message in an age of entitlement.
Bringing ~Sexy Back
He then went into a tirade against the modern concept of being sexy, saying, "The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart, and being thoughtful, and being generous. Everything else is crap! I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it! Be smart, be thoughtful and be generous."
The third point was about Steve Jobs, and we'll note that the kids were noticeably less noisy in their reaction to Steve Jobs than they were about Mr. Kutcher's thoughts on sexiness.
Be that as it may, Mr. Kutcher said:
Steve Jobs said when you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is, and that your life is to live your life inside the world and try not to get into too much trouble, and maybe get an education and get a job and make some money and have a family.
But life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing, and that is everything around us that we call life was made up by people who are no smarter than you. And you can build your own things. You can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life. Don't live one, build one. Find your opportunities, and always be sexy.
Be smart, be thoughtful, be generous.
The speech has been a big hit, and the version above already has 1.1 million views, with other versions circulating, too.
I'm Lovin' It
I think this was a heck of a speech, especially in the context of an awards show that is part of the Hollywood machine. All that stuff, "people try to sell to you to make you feel like less" paid for this very awards show. Even if he didn't call it by name, teens and preteens are precisely the markets he was discussing.
Secondly, his passion was evident. The man is an actor and the cynical might write it off as acting, but I've long felt that Mr. Kutcher was serious about his admiration for Steve Jobs,and even more serious about learning from Mr. Jobs's legacy. The things he said on that stage were heartfelt, and I'm glad that his fame as an actor gives him a platform from which to say those things.
Thirdly, it's really cool seeing the effect that Steve Jobs has had on him, and to see some of the thoughts Steve Jobs espoused in his 2005 Stanford commencement address echoed in a four minutes speech in front of millions of young kids.