Reflecting on Steve Jobs' Words of Wisdom and Insightful Questions

Looking back over his career and body of work, it is clear that Steve Jobs deserves credit.

He was a world-class innovator and showman.

More importantly, Steve Jobs said "I want to put a ding in the universe."  He did!


111005 Steve Jobs

There is not an app to replace Steve Jobs.  He was one of a kind.

One of the phrases people associate with Jobs is "Think Different!"  He did.  Bill Gates said he wanted to put a PC on every desktop.  Steve Jobs put magic in your pocket.

As we mourn his death and celebrate his life, here are a few of Steve's quotes:

  • "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
  • "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people are not used to an environment where excellence is expected."
  • "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."

Apparently he knew when it was time to quit.

When he stepped-down from his role at Apple, HBR pointed out that Jobs knew 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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