“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.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.
Just when I was about to log out of twitter, I saw a tweet that said “Steve Jobs is dead.” In a bid to find the veracity of the story as I usually do when I hear stuff like that, I tuned in to CNN. Death had laid its icy hands on a visionary, legend, icon, entrepreneur and a man who turned technology around. I was however not surprised when I tweeted, “The average life expectancy after diagnosis with metastatic disease is just three to six months. Jobs battled it for 7 years. #thankyousteve” and had almost 100 retweets.
Tributes are pouring in from every corner of the world. He certainly touched a lot of lives with his wisdom, skill and ingenuity. The co-founder of one the world’s most valuable companies, Apple certainly left a mark. Apple now operates more than 300 retail stores in 11 countries. The company has sold more than 275 million iPods, 100 million iPhones and 25 million iPads worldwide.
Jobs’ climb to the top was complete in summer 2011 when Apple listed more cash reserves than the U.S. Treasury and even briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil as the world’s most valuable company. There will never be another Steve Jobs. His life teaches some lessons and I would like to share them with you.
1. Never despise smaller beginnings
Born February 24, 1955, and then adopted, Jobs grew up in Cupertino, California — which would become home to Apple’s headquarters — and showed an early interest in electronics. As a teenager, he phoned William Hewlett, president of Hewlett-Packard, to request parts for a school project. He got them, along with an offer for a summer job at HP. Jobs attended Cupertino Junior High and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California. He frequented after-school lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California, and was later hired there, working with Steve Wozniak as a summer employee.Following high school graduation in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Although he dropped out after only one semester,he continued auditing classes at Reed, while sleeping on the floor in friends’ rooms, returning Coke bottles for food money, and getting weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple.Jobs later said, “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.” This man did not allow his smaller beginnings to destroy him. He kept on dreaming and dreaming and eventually realized his dreams. “Steve Jobs was put up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, then changed the world. What’s your excuse?”
“I want to put a ding in the universe.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.
2. Chase your dreams….. Think Different!
Don’t let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big. Our world is infected with negativity. Dreams are sent to the trash bin each and every day. People who should encourage us to dream are those who rather tell us to quit. “It’s not going to be possible” they say. “How can you do this and that? No one has ever achieved that.” We hear these all the time. When Steve Jobs was launching the iPad 2, he made a statement I will never forget. “I have always dreamed of making a video call and now we have it” he said. We need to chase our dreams. It gets tough sometimes but we should never give up. Jobs had the dream of putting a ding in this universe and he achieved that. Whatever the obstacles that come your way, never give up on your dreams. You could be the person to find the cure for cancer or HIV/AIDS. As soon as you give up, it means geniuses like Jobs will continue to die. The world needs your dreams! Failing a million times doesn’t make you a loser….giving up does. The most valuable people are determined by their character. It takes having a character that reasons with a stubborn faith to make it.
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.
3. Connect with the right people
While at HP, Jobs befriended Steve Wozniak, who impressed him with his skill at assembling electronic components. The two later joined a Silicon Valley computer hobbyists club, and when he was 21, Jobs teamed up with Wozniak and two other men to launch Apple Computer Inc. It’s long been Silicon Valley legend: Jobs and Wozniak built their first commercial product, the Apple 1, in Jobs’ parents’ garage in 1976. Jobs sold his Volkswagen van to help finance the venture. The primitive computer, priced at $666.66, had no keyboard or display, and customers had to assemble it themselves.
Connect with people who can bring out your uniqueness and help fulfill your purpose on earth. We should trust and respect our friends’ views of us but also be aware of God’s purpose for our lives.
Some friends may not have your best interest at heart, and they can still be your friends but you’ll need to distance yourself from them. Your gift is your personality, it is who you are. When you get around true friends, they won’t be jealous of who you are. True friends will help polish and bring out the best in you. I believe that Jobs and Wozniak partnered because they saw the best in each other. Your inner circle should be people who celebrate who you are and are willing to make you a better person every day. When you surround yourself with negative people, you will always yield negative results. It is not the quantity of friends; it is the quality of friends. Iron sharpeneth iron, says the Book of Proverbs. It’s imperative that you surround yourself with people who share your vision and are ready to surmount all obstacles and make them a reality.
Are there people who hold a special position in your life but always speak negative about their life or your dreams? Are they overly concerned about your relationship choices or goals? Do they constantly caution you about the steps you take towards your destiny and towards achieving personal happiness? It is time to dismiss them from your inner circle because they are preventing you from progressing. The people I am speaking about may be childhood friends and even relatives; I know that sounds cold but we must learn to love some folks from a distance and love ourselves up-close.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.
4. Always stay ahead of your competition
To succeed in today’s rapidly changing world you have to focus also on competitors and not on executing your old success formula. You have to be part of disrupting and changing markets in order to compete effectively. Too many businesses spend their time thinking about what they did last week/month/year when they should instead be thinking about what they need to do tomorrow. Instead of spending hours analyzing prior results, put that energy into developing future market scenarios, looking for potential shifts, and identifying how you can upend competitors. That was the approach of Steve Jobs. He was always ahead of the competition. If you want to succeed, if you want to be the leader in business, you have to learn to be ahead of the rest. If you always do what you’ve always done, you won’t ever do anything new. Intentionally disrupt the way you do things so you will try new and different approaches. This will open your organization to new growth opportunities. Look for how your competitors are locked in, and attack them in ways they cannot respond. Don’t just do what you want to do, take actions intended to hurt your competitor. Never miss an opportunity to ruin your competitor’s day. Jobs always did that. A little harsh? I remember his attack on Google after launching the iPad and called Adobe a “lazy” company. “We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them” he said. Shares of Apple jumped after that remark. If you are an entrepreneur or a student, learn to stay ahead of your competition. Do things that others won’t do. See into the future and you will forever be a success.
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.
5. Leave a legacy
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.
What would you be remembered for when you leave the face of the earth? That man or woman who always fought with the neighbors over nothing or that man or woman who made a great impact in the neighborhood? I trust that the latter is what you desire. We all need to impact the lives of many before we join our ancestors. He has done something that would take decades or centuries for another to match. For Jobs, how a product looked, felt and responded trumped raw technical specifications. While PC makers chased after faster processor speeds, Jobs pursued clever, minimalist design. Apple’s ads are one of a kind. We can talk about the iPod, iPhone, the Mac OS, the AppStore, the iPad and many more lives that have been changed because of this man. Ultimately, Jobs’ biggest contribution isn’t just a Smartphone, a tablet or an operating system but Apple itself, a 12,000-strong organization that was once on the brink of irrelevance. Since his return to the company in 1997, Jobs has rebuilt it into the most valuable technology company in the world, surpassing other heavyweights like Microsoft and HP. It may indeed be the greatest turnaround in business history.
Nothing better exemplifies that in design or scale than Apple’s upcoming new headquarters, a 2.8-million square foot campus that will house 300,000 square feet of research facilities, a 1,000-seat auditorium, a power plant and underground parking. “I think we do have a shot at building the best office building in the world,” Jobs said, who arguably wouldn’t settle for anything but the best where any area of his company was concerned.
“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.
Can we get a day set aside to celebrate the life of this man and to promote creativity and innovation? I am waiting…….
Boredom is good for creativity. Yes, you read that right! I advocate boredom in your life to help improve your creative potential. Oh yeah, I am not kidding at all because that works for me. I hardly sit down when I am bored. I am always on the move when boredom knocks at my door.
For most of us, being busy is a sign that we are achieving something in life or that we are progressing. We constantly keep ourselves busy doing something. It could be working hard at the office, shopping or other household chores, organizing something, looking after the family or even ‘researching on the internet.’
We keep our brains so active all the time that we do not allow ourselves the time to relax, the time to allow our brains to make connections between all the different stimuli we have given it.
When we have some spare time, we switch on the TV. We feel slightly empty and we check our social networking sites or the Internet in general. We feel lonely and we pick up the phone. The BBM craze in Ghana….oh no Africa….speaks volumes!
There is nothing wrong with the above but modern technology has made things go beyond the limit.
Mobile phones make it easy to connect and be connected with people within an instant. No longer do you only make phone calls when you were back home but we decide to make them anywhere and everywhere. Our precious quiet time, GONE.
The portable and cheaper home computers make it easy for us to pass away time browsing aimlessly on the Internet, where perhaps we would have used that time to simply relax and enjoy our surroundings. Ok, you need to travel to a remote area if you want to observe the greenery of nature in Ghana. We even could have used that time to practice a hobby but for the most part, that time is GONE.
This is made even worse with the advent of the iPad. A portable lightweight laptop which makes watching videos effortlessly easy. Now even the quiet time we had before sleeping is lost to watching movies and endless YouTube video clips. I could also talk about the addiction behavior of twitter and facebook.
But, all is not lost. The first step in any improvement is to become aware of what is actually happening and the second step is to take positive action to rectify the situation.
So to aid creativity, BRING THE BOREDOM BACK:
- It’s ok to be bored from time to time. It allows us to reflect on events and that is where we learn and create.
- Limit your time spent watching TV and using the Internet.
- Take up old/new hobbies.
- Decide not to use your mobile phone, not even to answer a call for one complete journey and observe the world around you with an open mind. Life is too short so enjoy it sometimes.
- Learn to enjoy the moment when your mind can completely rest.
Boredom is good for your creativity. Accept it, embrace it and encourage it. Your creative mind will thank you. You can leave a comment so that we keep on discussing. Life will lose its tune without creativity!
You’re off to school. You’re going to be facing many new challenges. What you don’t need is to be wasting lots of time and energy. You need to get things done quickly and efficiently. For that, you’ll need the assortment of products listed here. All of these products are electronic. We live in an electronic-digital age, and highly effective students make the most of the opportunities such products provide.
As you go through this list, you’ll find some overlap. For instance, your cell phone / SmartPhone can serve as a camera. So too, your laptop computer can play DVDs and Blu-ray. In our experience, it’s best to have dedicated units for each of the main tasks and sources of information you’ll be facing as a student. All-purpose electronics that are advertised as “doing everything” often don’t do anything particularly well. By contrast, we’ve found dedicated electronics get the job done, are easier to use, and less liable to bugs and break-downs.
Here, then, is our list of 10 must-have products:
1. Laptop Computer
In the number one position, of course, is a computer. You’ll definitely need a computer and we recommend a laptop. Desktop computers are bulky, have multiple components, and break down more easily. Moreover, given how fast and powerful laptaps have become, you really don’t need a desktop computer unless you’re going to be doing intensive work with graphics or sound (in which case you should be able to find such computers made available to you on campus). Laptops, by contrast, give you everything to meet your computing needs in one neat package. Although Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba make good laptops, we recommend Asus, which gives you more computing power for the buck and doesn’t saddle your machine with as much extraneous software when you buy it. What, no Mac, you say? Although we like Macs, especially for audio and video editing, we think that for an entry-level machine you are best going with a PC. PCs tend to be more compatible with academic environments and have much more educational software written for them. When you buy a laptop, be sure to get one with a good processor and lots of memory. Also be sure to get some good virus protection — we recommend Kaspersky. Here’s the laptop we recommend (it’s got an i5 processor, 4 gigs of RAM, and a 500 gig hard drive — and it’s quite reasonably priced given how much you get):
2. SmartPhone / Cell Phone
You most likely already have a cell phone. In fact, you may be wondering why we didn’t put a cell phone first on this list. As it is, you’ll be able to borrow someone’s cell phone in a pinch. But borrowing someone’s computer to do your school work tends to be more difficult. Your computer is going to be “command central” for all your course work. A good cell phone will help you here, but cannot replace your computer. That said, for mobility, keeping up with what’s going on, and as a backup for some of what your computer does (for example, email), a good cell phone / SmartPhone will be indispensable. We recommend the latest line of Google Droid phones that work on a 4G network. They’re fast. They do all the basic stuff that cell phones are supposed to do. They’ve got plenty of cool apps. They don’t saddle you with a lot of the proprietary restrictions and costs that Apple has on its phones. Finally, the latest phones have powerful Internet connections and provide WiFi hubs, so if your school’s Internet goes down or you’re in a place without Internet, your phone can connect your laptop to the web. Here’s the cell phone we recommend:
Paper-and-ink books are not likely disappear any time soon. Even so, their role is going to keep diminishing in coming years. Moreover, most other print media (newspapers, journals, magazines) are going the way of the dinosaur. In fact, many school libraries no longer subscribe to print versions of academic journals. This means that you’ll be reading more and more on your laptop and other electronic media delivery systems. Electronic readers (eReaders) are becoming the delivery system of choice. They’re highly portable (more so than laptops), are light and small, have long battery lives, and typically use e-ink (electronic ink) that’s readable even in bright sunlight (unlike laptops and unlike Apple’s iPad). The reader we prefer is the Amazon Kindle. In addition to supporting many many books and publications, and in addition to allowing automatic transfers of many different electronic formats (for example, pdf files are easily transferred to the Kindle), it also has a wonderful text-to-speech feature. The electronic voice is not as good as a real voice, but it’s pretty good, giving not just accurate pronunciation of words but also preserving cadences. With a Kindle, you may never buy an audio book again. We recommend the Kindle DX, whose larger size and memory capacity provide everything you’ll need in an eReader:
Printers are no longer as necessary as they once were. Lots of printers are widely available on campus or from neighbors. Moreover, we just don’t need as much paper as we once did. Email has cut down massively on the amount of mail that the post offfice delivers. Many books and documents are now available electronically. Many school assignments now need to be submitted electronically. Indeed, some courses now advertise themselves as being “paperless.” That said, you will find teachers who still want assignments handed in with traditional “ink on paper” or “hardcopy.” Especially for term papers, teachers like to grade papers by marking them with a red pen or pencil. All that to say, you will be having to print off some of your assignments. But can’t you just do that on someone else’s printer. In most cases, you can. But imagine it’s the morning of that the big assignment is due. The printer you ordinarily borrow is down. Or, if it’s not down, there’s a big line waiting to use it. You’ll find that having your own printer will relieve a lot of stress the times you really need it. Moreover, you’ll find it convenient simply to have the printer around to print things off at your convenience rather than having to hunt down a printer elsewhere. We recommend two types printers, one that simply prints and is portable; the other that also does scanning, fax, and photocopies. Either one will serve your needs:
5. Voice Recorder
You may be attending a dynamite lecture. You may be wanting to record great thoughts that are coming to you faster than you can write down. You may want to do a podcast, sharing your deep thoughts with Cyberspace. You may be listening to a classic comedy routine by your roommate and want to preserve it for posterity. In all such cases and more, you’ll want a dedicated voice recorder. These have come down drastically in price. They’re now entirely digital, so you can easily transfer everything you record to your computer. Cell phones often don’t offer voice recorders, partly because of legal ramifications. Check with your state’s laws. In some states, you are permitted to record what other people are saying, whether in person or by phone, as long you are party to the conversation. In other states, you need to get consent. In any case, you’ll find that with a voice recorder, you’ll be able capture moments that years down the line you’ll be glad you didn’t miss. Here’ the voice recorder we recommend. It will handle all your voice recording needs and even some music:
Cell phones have cameras, but even with high megapixel counts, their picture quality tends to be only fair and their camera features (zoom, red-eye control, shutter speed, etc.) tend to be strictly limited or non-existent. Sure, use your cell-phone camera when that’s the only camera you have, but if you want pictures you can be proud of — if you’re going to be at a special occasion where the pictures you take are ones you’ll want your kids and grandkids to enjoy — use a dedicated camera. Digital cameras now exceed the traditional film cameras in picture quality. The best type of camera you can get is a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera. This will give you professional quality pictures (of course, it will help to know something about photography). Unlike ordinary digital cameras, these allow you to take pictures much faster (click-click-click) and get sharp focus each time. Of course, a DLSR camera may be more camera than you need. In that case, go with a conventional digital camera. Here are two DSLR cameras we recommend (we like Nikon) as well as a a conventional one:
7. Portable DVD/Blu-ray Player
Video is increasingly becoming part of the educational experience. You may be taking a course online and have to view lectures or documentaries on DVD or Blu-ray. You may be doing some self-study with materials from The Teaching Company (www.teach12.com), which has many wonderful courses on DVD. In such cases it will help you enormously to have a portable DVD/Blu-ray player. These small devices work very well and allow you to cut through a lot of the security and red tape that laptop and desktop computers encounter when they have to use third-party software to read DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Also, if you have to take notes on the videos that you’re viewing, it will help to be viewing on a device separate from your computer. DVDs still tend to dominate the market, especially in education, but Blu-ray discs are fast gaining support (Blu-ray supersedes DVD, having much greater storage capacity). If price is not so big an issue, we recommend getting a portable Blu-ray player (which will also play DVDs). Otherwise, we recommend getting a portable DVD player:
8. iPod or iPad
Yes, your cell phone has an mp3 player and that’s a feature that works well on these devices. And yes, Apple tends to be quite proprietary about its products, keeping a tight rein on all the applications, music, and peripherals that work with them (Apple doesn’t seem to know the meaning of “third party”). That said, Apple has been a key innovator in the electronics business, so you should have an Apple product if only to know what your classmates are using and doing. Sure, you can get an iPhone that also serves as an iPod. But this we regard as an expensive option and one that, in our view, unduly limits your use of cell phone providers. On the plus side, whatever Apple does, it tends to do well. Moreover, iPods and iPads work well across computing environments (whether you get a PC or Mac). The Apple Store that services the iPod and iPad offers lots of neat educational products. You’ll want to have at least one of these devices in your academic arsenal:
9. Video Camera
Videos are able to capture moments in ways that snap shots with ordinary cameras cannot. If you value memories with family and friends, if you want to commemorate key moments in your educational experinece, you’ll want a video camera. But what about education itself? How can a video camera enhance your educational experience? Are video cameras really a must-have product for the savvy student? We believe that they are. Making your own videos is becoming more and more popular, not just for YouTube but also as part of the education experience (video contests on academic subjects are becoming increasingly widespread). The digital/electronic culture is a visual culture. People these days tend to learn less from books and reading and more from visuals. What has classically been called “the rhetorical task,” where you try to persuade people to accept some idea or act in some way, is increasingly driven not by words and argument but by enticing visuals. You don’t need to be a professional film-maker to appreciate this point. Even an amateur with a video camera can affect people in ways that written media cannot. Video cameras are now entirely digital, dispensing with tapes and going entirely with flash and hard drives, so you can move the videos you make easily to a computer for editing. Here’s the video camera we recommend:
10. Pen Tablet
In this digital age, we tend to push a lot of buttons on machines. We ourselves, however, are not machines. We are organisms, and button-pushing, after a while, can feel quite unnatural. It’s therefore important to have some interfaces with the digital world that preserve our non-linear, analogue humanity. When we learn to write, for instance, we don’t learn at a keyboard but by putting pencil to paper and tracing out first block letters and then cursive letters. A pen tablet allows this experience of writing, scribbling, and drawing to be transferred to the computer, thus providing an organic link between (wo)man and machine. Talk of “organic links” may sound warm and fuzzy, but once you start using a pen tablet, you’ll see that it connects you with digital environments in ways you hadn’t expected. Tablet laptops were something of a rage five years ago, but the screens weren’t very good and, as often happens when you ask too much of a device, they didn’t do anything particularly well. By getting a pen tablet as a peripheral to your computer, on the other hand, you’ll be able to get the full value out of the tablet as well as your laptop. Here’s is the pen tablet we recommend: