“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…….