Reflecting on Steve Jobs' Words of Wisdom and Insightful Questions

Steve Jobs deserves credit. He is a world-class innovator and showman.


110829 We Have an App for That - Cartoon Beeler 
Despite what the cartoon says, there is not an app for that.  Replacing Steve Jobs will not be easy.  He was one of a kind.

His latest accomplishment is that he figured-out how to get everyone to eulogize him while he's still alive.


To be fair, these may be the last years (or days) of Jobs' life. But, as HBR points out, if so, Jobs no doubt knew that something needed to change. Perhaps it really is time for Jobs to go home, as he put it, to a "wonderful family" and an "amazing woman" and re-reflect on a few of the provocative questions (slightly altered) that he posed to the world in his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address.

Here is the video.




Here are some of the questions he posed. (click here for the complete text version of the speech)

  • Have you found "what you love" to do in life?
  • Are you wasting your life "living someone else's?"
  • Do you "have the courage to follow your heart and intuition?"
  • Are you nurturing a "great relationship," one that "just gets better and better as the years roll on?"
  • Do you tell "your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months" or days?
  • Do you make "sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family" when "the single best invention of Life" takes its toll?
  • Do you say "your goodbyes" before it's too late to say them?

For almost four decades Steve Jobs has certainly tried his best to "put a ding in the universe."

If you are looking for more on Jobs' wisdom and insights, Umair Haque has a nice post on the Harvard Business Review site; it is called "Steve's Seven Insights for 21st Century Capitalists".

He highlights lessons that jumped out at him while looking through this compendium of Jobs quotes.

Here are two examples.

It Matters that it Matters. "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water — or do you want to change the world?" That's what Steve famously asked John Sculley. Translation: do you really want to spend your days slaving over work that fails to inspire, on stuff that fail to count, for reasons that fail to touch the soul of anyone?

Do the insanely great. "When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it." We're awash in a sea of the tedious, the humdrum, the predictable. If your goal is rising head and shoulders above this twisting mass of mediocrity, then it's not enough, anymore, to tack on another 99 features every month and call it "innovation." Just do great work.

Those aren't the only lessons, nor probably the best lessons. There are lots to choose from.

Umair Haque challenges: Steve took on the challenge of proving that the art of enterprise didn't have to culminate in a stagnant pond of unenlightenment — and won. In doing so, he might just have built something approximating the modern world's most dangerously enlightened company. Can you?

What a great thing career he had.  He ends his Stanford speech with a quote that sums it up well. "Stay Hungry … Stay Foolish."

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