No matter how you look at it, Steve Jobs was an exceptional man.
I don’t need to elaborate his achievements. If the only thing he left to the world were the iPod, that would have been enough. Of course, we all know he did way more than that.
The thing I remember most about Steve is that he was forced out of the company he co-built sometime in 1985. I watched a speech he gave at one of those prestigious universities and he was talking about how he felt lost afterwards, saying it felt somehow similar to being forced out of his own home. But he did not let that stop him.
The lessons one can learn from this man are several and they keep going. One of the biggest any entrepreneur can take from him is that he never actually bothered with branding himself or his company. His focus was creating amazing products for his consumers – and the Apple brand built itself around that.
These days you find too many people in fancy suits carrying pretty business cards about, and when you ask them what they do, the reply goes: “I’m an entrepreneur”.
And if you’re like me, you persist. “So what exactly are you into?” “Business” follows immediately as response.
What does that tell you?
As much as Steve was celebrated for his successes, people hardly mention his mistakes – one of which was building Apple Lisa in 1983. It failed woefully and Steve immediately abandoned it to work on another project, the hugely successful Macintosh in 1984. He said of the Lisa (named after his daughter) that it is virtually impossible to innovate without making mistakes. To him, it is, however, important that one acknowledges those mistakes quickly so one can move on to other innovations.
Here are a few lessons I have learned from Steve:
- On passion: Steve believed the only way to do great work was to have a passion for it. He often referred to new startups, wondering if they were in it for the money or they really wanted to build a company. “You can’t luck into it,” he said several times. “You really have to want to build something or you will give up when the money doesn’t come when you thought it would.”
- On quality: If there’s anything Apple products are noted for apart from sleek designing and ahead-of-the-curve functionality, it’s quality. And Steve had something to say about that, as well:
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
- On life: Steve became an atheist in his teens when he showed a preacher a picture of starving children and asked the preacher if God knew about the starving kids. The preacher replied that God knows everything, and Steve said he didn’t want to have anything with a God who knew about things like starving children and did nothing about it.
He was very vocal about his beliefs and he did not hesitate to speak what he felt. Even though we disagree with his opinion in Christianity, he said a couple of things concerning life and living which I strongly believe in:
“My favourite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” Or the one about great work:
“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.
- On Success: Without a doubt, he was one of the most successful human beings to walk this earth – in material wealth contributions to humanity. You probably couldn’t find a better mentor/model if you tried. About being successful, he said:
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
And that’s true. It takes trying over and over to be able to make anything of yourself, to be able to build something successful.
Steve Jobs did it.