I recently finished reading the Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson.
What a read that was. I soaked up those eight hundred pages like a hungry book worm. Isaacson reviewed in detail of Steve Jobs’ work, life and cancer. Steve Jobs was a very complex character and his personality was at times quite cruel and menacing. To say that he was a nice person would be a great understatement.
Nevertheless, it is clear that, what he had achieved — revolutionizing the personal computer (with the MacIntosh), wireless communications (with the iPhone), music (with iPod & iTunes) and film (with Pixar) were astonishing feats.
In time, Steve Jobs will be regarded as one the greatest visionaries, inventors and entrepreneurs, joining the ranks of Walt Disney, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.
Here’s what I learned from him.
The number one thing in life is to have passion. Everything else is secondary. To change the world or in his words “to make a dent in the universe”, you need to be a bit crazy. Those who are rational and sane simply give up. People who are “successful” (in the eyes of society) love what they do and persevere when times get tough.Times will get really tough. It is what we do in those moments that define who we are.
Without passion, there is little incentive to put in the hardwork necessary to accomplish anything in life. It is incredibly hard to do anything meaningful. If it is your dream to change the world for the better, to move humanity forward, you must have an unyielding passion. It will carry you through the hardships. You must put in the hardwork. Passion is everything.
Point one: Passion + Hardwork = Greatness
Passion and hardwork in Steve’s words.
Steve Jobs had a saying — “We’re here to put a dent in the universe.” It is absolutely crucial to have a grand vision about the changes you want to see in this world. Without his grand vision and will , none of the Apple’s innovations would ever exist. This principle can be applied to anything in life. Ask yourself, “what am I here to do?” Envision the those changes. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Wayne Gretzky once said he missed 100% of the shots he didn’t take. Willingly taking on risks is the key. Steve Jobs had a similar saying, “those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” A clear concise vision can be very powerful. Having such a vision is the basis to his achievements.
Point Two = Vision + Belief = Strength
Here are Steve Job’s words on thinking beyond limits.
Focus is about saying no. Our time is limited on this planet. We have finite time to achieve a few things in life. It requires a tremendous amount of time to carry out the vision with conviction, to make a dent in the universe, to follow your passion and work hard at what you love. You cannot do everything that you want to do. You must pick and choose to do the things that matter. Apple had over 300 products in the market when Steve Jobs returned in 1997, he understood right away that this was a major hindrance to Apple’s survival. What did he do? He cut out 290 of them – a fine example of focusing on the things that really matter. Steve Nash and Rajon Rondo were great athletes coming out of high school. They both had tremendous potential in multiple sports besides being great at basketball. They both had to picked one to focus on, Nash let go of soccer and Rondo said no to American football. They made the right choice and became elite NBA players. Steve Jobs once said “innovation comes from saying no to 1000 things.” Reduce the clutter, keep it simple.
Point Three: Focus + Dedication = Really Great Work
Here’s a clip of Steve Jobs answering questions at a conference in 1997, about OpenDoc and then subsequently the subject of focus.
One thing that struck me was how rude he was to people he considered to be “bozos”. He was brutally honest about what he thought was poor work. In his binary view (the way Isaacson described it), it either works, then you’re amazing; or it doesn’t work, then you’re a complete bozo. I think this is true to some extent. Bozos don’t want others to do a better work than they are. Why? Because they only care about their pride, image, how good they look to the boss. That’s why they are bozos — B grade players who don’t really care about what they do. The worst thing about B grade players is that they will attract C grade players. Cs will attract Ds… This will go on and on until someday you’ll find yourself surrounded by Z grade players!
Become an A player then surround yourself with A+ players. Learn from A+ players and strive to become one. This way you’ll have lots of fun and produce exceptional work. Better yet, you won’t attract B grade players and this means long term success is possible.
Point Four: A player + A plus players = Continual Success
Steve Jobs talks about his management style in this video.
Andy Hertzfeld from the original Mac team said it the best, “The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money. It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater.”
The ultimate goal of anything in life should not be about money, nor should it be about winning. It should be about doing the greatest thing possible. Ask yourself, what is your passion? What do you wan to do? What kind of impact do you want to make on this planet? The emphasis should be placed on pursuing your passion. That should be your focus. Once you’ve found it, work your butt off. Say no to the things that are not relevant and dedicate your time to your grand vision. That’s how you make that greatest achievements that push humanity forward. Don’t be afraid to be approach people who are better than you. In fact, those are the people you should look for. Surround yourself with great people because you can learn a great deal from them.
Anyone can change the world, all you need is to do is follow through.