My friend Bob read Steve Jobs biography and suggested I do too. It is wonderful. Read it. Walter Isaacson is a masterful writer and Steve is a character an author could hardly invent. Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction must be plausible.
If he did not exist, we would not see Steve Jobs as plausible.
He envelopes nearly every positive trait and blemish known to man. Brilliant, curious, driven, persistent, passionate, cruel, spiteful and kind. He was dutiful, wrathful, and grateful.
What can we learn?
Maybe not much. Perhaps all of Steve Jobs must exist before the end product is visible. Like a chocolate cake is more than the ingredients. Maybe none of his uniqueness is transferable. Nonetheless, it is fun to theorize.
- Everything you can learn might be valuable. He audited a calligraphy course while skipping college and that insight provided the fonts for the Mac. An electronics guy with an artist’s eye.
- He valued what he did more than the money. I suppose that’s easier when you are wealthy, but despite his $20 billion accumulation, he could have had immensely more if he had wanted to be greedy when he returned to Apple.
- He wanted the best people around him. He might have driven them hard and hurt some feelings but he knew the value of bright people.
- He believed in himself. Almost to the point of being insane. No rational person could have believed that blowing up the massive telephone business, and the ancient and entrenched music business was possible.
- He was a visionary. He knew most people did not know what they wanted until someone showed it to them. Most entrepreneurs have that skill. Henry Ford once said that if he had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
- He was focused. Saying no to almost everything is a well developed skill of entrepreneurs. A vast enterprise does not grow from two half-vast ideas.
- Design is how it works, not what it looks and feels like. There are many who don’t know that yet. Functionality first, then beauty.
- Innovation is error prone. Admit mistakes quickly and move on. I doubt he enjoyed mistakes but I think he learned from each.
- There is a big difference between developing something and innovating. One is creation the other evolution.
Time is short. Make it count.
Steve Jobs like characters may appear in future. In the interim we all have the ability to make the world better our own way.
“We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life.”
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org 866-285-7772