Steve Jobs left behind a legacy of not only great products, but also ideas that continue to be shared (and likely will far into the future), inspiring and motivating entrepreneurs along the way. While Jobs’ was undoubtedly a difficult person to work with, there’s some potentially life changing lessons to be learned from him. I believe smart people learn from their mistakes, but I believe brilliant people learn from other peoples’ mistakes. In the spirit of that idea, here’s 4 lessons which can be learned by the tremendous amount of success Jobs had professionally.
Lesson #1: Follow Your Passion
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs
Jobs learned early on that you shouldn’t waste your time doing things you don’t love. Jobs moved project to project, maintaining an unbelievable amount of focus, ambition, and most importantly – passion.
What does this mean for you?
It doesn’t mean you should quit your day job tomorrow.
It does mean that you should seek, or create opportunities to do what you love. It might take time, but you should be doing things that are worthy of your time.
Lesson #2: The Details Matter
“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 see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” – Steve Jobs
Jobs was notorious for his ability to care about the details. He cared about every bit of the product, no matter how insignificant it seems. This wasn’t Jobs being eccentric – he understood that you don’t waste an interaction with a customer. That interaction could be defined as the customer using your product, service, or even viewing your advertisements.
Whatever the interaction is – make it count.
Lee Clow, an advertising guru and longtime Jobs friend, said, “Steve figured out that every way a brand touches you is a message, and it’s either a positive message or it’s a message that kind of contradicts what you thought about the brand.”
While others might neglect something as simple as the song used on an advertisement, or the style of text used, Jobs didn’t. All of those little details added up to help craft the customers mental image of the brand.
Lesson #3: Demand Excellence
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs
There’s been a number of documented stories where Jobs exploded on a subordinate for slacking off, or not producing a quality product in some shape or form. While the way Jobs approached these situations could definitely be handled better – the underlying statement is there: do great work, and expect great work from everyone around you.
When others around you fail to produce good work, it’s your responsibility to call that out in the most appropriate manner possible. If you don’t, you risk your reputation and brand. You don’t want to be known as the guy (or gal) who accepts substandard work. Set the standard, and push others to meet it.
Lesson #4: Think Big
It’s undeniable that Jobs had an incredible amount of ambition. He saw a vision of what Apple could be, and was driven by a mission of changing the world for the better. I personally have always been driven by the idea of doing big things. Things that most people don’t even try to do. For the longest time, I couldn’t articulate this idea that was in my head. That is, until I saw this interview with Jobs. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and spend 2 minutes to listen to it. It’s gold.
If you don’t want to watch, here’s the clip, summarized:
“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
I think Jobs summed it up amazingly well, but the point is – you can make your mark on the world, just like anyone else can. The only thing stopping you from doing it, is you. Get hungry, get to work, and never, ever quit.
If you want real life-changing success, it begins with thinking bigger.