Remembering a Legend: 4 Things I Learned from Steve Jobs

by George P.H. on October 6, 2011

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”

Steve Jobs persuaded Pepsi’s youngest-ever president to work for Apple with that pitch. 30 years later, it’s safe to say that the quote fully encapsulates who Jobs was: a world-changer, a visionary and an incredible man.

Note: this image is a work of Jonathan Mak Long and can be found here

He dropped out of college; tried LSD; went on a spiritual journey to India. He founded Apple; got kicked out (after leading a failed mutiny); came back in ’97 and made it the 3rd biggest publically traded company in the whole frickin’ world.

And if you think that’s awesome, guess what he did in between two stints at Apple? Co-founded Pixar and NeXT Computer; two companies that sold for 7.4$ Billion (2006) and 429$ Million (1996) respectively. No big deal.

No matter how you look at it, the man was an inspiration and a total badass. It’s not fair that someone so brilliant left us so early, at just 56 years old. I never met him personally, but Mr. Jobs inspired me and countless other people.

In this post, I’d like to honor and remember the man’s legacy the best way I know how: by sharing the uplifting lessons I’ll always remember him by.

1 – Do What You Love

“I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did… If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”   - Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address, 2005

“CEO of Apple Computer” wasn’t just Jobs’ post: it was his passion, his life.  His enthusiasm for every new gadget and development is what made his keynote presentations – what made him – so brilliant.

He had been in declining health in 2004 but kept going until the very end, only resigning a month ago: a testament to his dedication. Jobs’ energy and presence made him synonymous with Apple; it’s hard to imagine the company he founded without him. If that’s not love, then what is?

At a time when so many of us are fed up with our 9-5’s, we could all learn a thing or two from his attitude.

2 – Know when to Swallow your Pride and Compromise

“If we screw up and don’t do a good job, it’s not somebody else’s fault – it’s our fault.”   - Steve Jobs, Macworld Boston speech, 1997

In 1997, Steve Jobs had just returned to a struggling Apple. It needed cash and resources after a pretty rough decade. Soon after, the Microsoft Deal was announced at Macworld Expo.

The deal would deliver a 150$-million investment (non-voting shares) and Microsoft Office for Macintosh, amongst other things. There would, however, be a price to pay.

For one, Internet Explorer would be pre-installed on all new Macs. But worst of all, the partnership was an ideological defeat. 13 years after the epic “1984” commercial, Apple was teaming up with Big Brother.

Still, Jobs faced the situation like a man did what he had to do. He disappointed many people – the announcement was met with a whole lotta boos – but in the end, his company lived on and eventually triumphed over its rival.

A good reminder that sometimes, you need to compromise to get where you want to be.

3 – Never Stay Down

“So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating… … And so I decided to start over.”   - Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address, 2005

At 30 years old, Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple. Usually, at that age, a man knows which way his life’s going. To lose everything you’ve worked so hard for is, exactly like the quote above says, devastating.

But Jobs worked hard, co-founded two very successful businesses – NeXT and Pixar – and ended up back on top. He didn’t give up then, and he didn’t give up when he started getting sick. He persevered and kept working until the very end. Not only did he keep getting back up; he put on a brave face for the rest of the world.

His struggles really put things in perspective. If Jobs could come back from losing everything and keep kicking ass while battling pancreatic cancer, what excuses do we have?

4 – Think Different

Think Different – Apple Computer advertising slogan circa 1997

Apple has a long history of winning against technologically superior competitors.

In 2003, I owned an iriver H340. It had 40 gigs of memory, video playback (years before the iPod!) and was cheap. All in all, it was ahead of its time and much better than the competition. But less than a decade on, who remembers it even existed?

In 2010, the iPad was released; critics couldn’t figure out why anyone would want one. And yet, it became a runaway success. Competitors, seeing this, started launching their own tablet products… All of which failed.

The secret to Apple’s successes? Steve Jobs’ ability to think different. Sure, the software was uniquely intuitive; the hardware – beautiful. But most importantly, Apple had spirit; its leader’s vision was unique.

While other companies were selling us computers, phones and players, Jobs was selling us an idea. It was fresh, it was different and it set Apple apart from all its faceless competitors.

There are millions of people out there, but set yourself apart and the world will notice. If there’s one thing Steve Jobs taught us all, it’s just how much one man can accomplish by Thinking Different.

Have anything to add? Please leave a comment below!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kian | Awesome Life Coach October 8, 2011 at 7:30 am

Steve Job’s will be sorely missed. As i type this on my mac whilst listening to music on Itunes it’s clear that he made a difference in the world. I am not only grateful for the things he did at Apple, but also Pixar. Pixar have made some of my favourite movies that have become very inspirational to me.

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