Steve Jobs’ passing will have been 5 years ago as of October 5, 2016. Having died at age 56, he didn’t live a particularly long life, yet there was no shortage to his accomplishments. Jobs cofounded Apple in 1976, was worth about $100 million by age 25, founded NeXT and Pixar after his dismissal from Apple in 1985, brought Apple back from near bankruptcy when he returned in 1997, and from there built it up to be the most valuable company in the world. Throughout this time he helped transform music, phones, tablet computing, personal computing, animated movies, retail stores, and digital publishing. Clearly, he knew a thing or two about having a fulfilling and successful career.
While no one could replace Steve Jobs, we can all learn from his advice and example. Here are 8 pieces of wisdom he had to share.
“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”
Despite the genius that Jobs was, even he couldn’t do amazing things alone. He needed the help of other hardworking, intelligent, devoted people to assist in innovating and creating, especially when working to succeed on a massive scale. Jobs’ management style was a tough one, but he truly appreciated and valued his employees and they liked working for him. They were a team, and with a joint effort, they found great success.
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.”
Jobs said that he didn’t view wealth as something that “validated [his] intelligence,” and that he wouldn’t let it ruin his life. He never made money his objective. Instead, making wonderful products was his #1 objective, and the money naturally followed.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And 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. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
It’s not always easy to find work that you love, but when you do, you will work better and find more satisfaction with life. For more advice on finding your passion, click here.
“…you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something-your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Steve Jobs was reflecting on his college experience when he said this quote. He dropped out of Reed College after just six months because he didn’t know what he wanted to do and he didn’t want to waste his parents’ money on tuition in the meantime. He dropped out and trusted that everything would work out well. He decided to stick around and drop in on the few classes that actually interested him, one of which was a calligraphy course. In this course he learned about different fonts, variable space between letters, etc. He didn’t have a reason for going to it other than he wanted to.
Well it turned out that this seemingly useless class was extremely useful to him ten years later when designing the first Mac computer. His calligraphy knowledge was used in designing the computer’s beautiful typography, which Windows and everyone else copied. “Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward ten years later.” The lesson here? Go with your gut.
“It takes a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.”
Jobs was always striving to make Apple products as simple as possible; the easier something is, the more people will be open to using it. Simplicity is not the easy way out; it can be much harder to achieve than the complex. However, people aren’t looking for complicated, they just want their needs met!
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”
One of Jobs’ most devastating moments was getting fired from Apple, a decade after co-founding the company. “What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating,” Jobs said. “I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me–I still loved what I did. And so I decided to start over.” He took the opportunity to start two new companies, NeXT and Pixar. “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” He also ended up meeting and falling in love with his wife during that time, which would not have happened had he still been at Apple. Jobs said, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me,” he said.
Sometimes the worst happens, but don’t give up. Keep pressing forward and trust that things will work out.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
Don’t just aim for quantity, speed, or convenience in your work–aim for perfection! Jobs knew that success only comes from striving for the highest quality possible, and then continually raising that standard. His father taught him that a true craftsman uses a good piece of wood even for the back part of a cabinet that no one will see because it’s against the wall. Steve carried that perspective with him throughout his career at Apple. He had the attitude that he and his employees were true artists, and they needed to act that way. He and his employees worked many extra hours changing the case to the iPhone last minute because it drew too much attention away from the screen, he delayed the iPad so its shape could be adjusted in such a way that users would feel more comfortable picking it up, and he sent the Apple II and Macintosh circuit boards back to the engineers twice to rearrange the chips to look nicer, even though they would be unseen and tightly sealed inside the machines. He had a passion for perfection.
Stand out by doing your job the very best that you can; quality is more important than quantity. “One home run is much better than two doubles.”
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
This way of thinking was likely intensified later in life when Jobs found out he had cancer, but even before that, he always wanted to live his life remembering what’s truly important.
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Don’t shy away from your dreams because of fear. Don’t keep doing the same things that don’t make you happy. Remember, you’re already naked, so just follow your heart without fear.