What Steve Jobs Represents for Me

The 5th of October, last year seemed to be a normal day in my life. I woke up in the morning, as usual and I turned on my computer to check my email but a title of an article on the Yahoo main page simply scared me…somehow it was expected but I never wanted it to happen. The title was short and concise: “Steve Jobs passed away.”

Steve Jobs has influenced our world and his influence is still present even if a year has passed since his death. Nowadays his image is used for both fair and unfair purposes, I am very angry when I receive various spam emails letting me know that, by following some online course I will become an efficient and charismatic leader as Steve Jobs. I think he is incomparable and we all have a lot to learn from him.

As a year has passed since his death, I think that it is fair to remember some of Steve Jobs achievements and at least to present what I have learned from him. I strongly encourage everyone to actively participate by using the comment form; please share your thoughts about Steve Jobs with us.

I was totally impressed last year when lots of newspapers and TV stations brought their tribute to the most charismatic CEO ever. Everyone tried to bring his own contribution as a sign of appreciation to him. The huge majority of the web design blogs posted tons of articles presenting the tribute of the designers for Steve Jobs. Intentionally or not, Steve Jobs is a myth and his image will last for many years…it is amazing but Jobs was in fact a myth even when he was alive. I really appreciate that he didn’t try to hide his skeletons from the closet, he was frank and accepted that during his life, he made a lot of mistakes. It’s true, the personal life shouldn’t be discussed, but I want to emphasize the fact that he was totally open and didn’t bury the negative aspects of his past. Therefore, he wasn’t perfect, he was “as human being as we are”.

In this post, I want to present some of the ideas that everyone may learn from Steve Jobs, some are 100% his conception while others were too much used by Jobs that they are implicitly associated with him.

1. There is no limit, don’t be afraid to dream

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs was abandoned by his natural parents, then he was adopted. Also, he never graduated and in his youth he was very poor, sometimes living below any standards. This context didn’t ensure the perfect climate to become the CEO of the most important worldwide brand but Steve managed to overcome any difficulties. He brought big modifications to no more than five important industries. The first one was the invention of the Mac, a computer that was at the base of the informational era. Then the iPod changed the music industry, everyone wanted to listen to music using the amazing tool created by Apple. The iStore was another step forward for the music industry and it changed the way we used to buy music radically. It’s impossible not to see a movie realized by the Pixar studios but very few know that Steve Jobs was in the management team of this company and some of his decisions contributed its success. Quite probable, the latest two inventions bring to Steve Jobs the full recognition of the community or why not, of the entire society. The iPad is the most used tablet, having a market share that gives the impression of having no real competitors. It created and then revolutionized the tablet industry. Many people are tedious and state the tablet was way before Steve Jobs launched it, but he was the one who had the courage to bring this innovative concept to the market.

The iPhone is another revolutionary idea, it was launched when the market was oversaturated with the existent mobiles and the concept of smartphone had been introduced. This mobile phone had a lot of new and amazing features…it was smarter than others were and made people fell in love with it. It’s impossible to determine which is the most “smart”or the most appreciated mobile phone but surely, the iPhone is one of the best ones.

In conclusion, Steve Jobs realized in his life many fantastic things even if the overall context wasn’t quite positive. He presented to Stanford students his vision of life and clearly the idea was to follow your dreams and heart. I think that it is better, at least sometimes, to follow this idea.

2. Life is wonderful, find your inner way

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

I have some friends that aren’t happy with their life, the majority saying that a better financial situation will help them. It’s true, this may be a reason but happiness doesn’t strictly dependent on the money. Steve Jobs was a great preacher of the idea that you will be happy only when you will do what you like the most. He liked to create new stunning gadgets and he made it without any sacrifice, it was a real pleasure for him. The same idea is valuable for everyone: enjoy your life and do what you like the most. “And one more thing”…don’t forget, time is the most important resource: you may buy a new car, a new house but you can’t buy barely a single second from your past.

3. Nobody is perfect but you can at least try to be better

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me… Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

As I previously said, Steve Jobs wasn’t perfect and he made a lot of mistakes but it didn’t stop him not to strive for perfection. His great products sustain this idea, every new version tried to solve the bugs and add something new to dandle the clients. Unfortunately, not every time the new modifications were improvements and Steve Jobs overcame these moments in the same way: calm, having cool blood and with a sense of humor.

His style is associated with the professional designer who wants to make everything the best, better being only a compromise that by far doesn’t satisfy him. In conclusion, never expect the future, try to build yourself by providing the best product and services and attempting to be no.1 in everything you do.

4. Quality requires sacrifices

“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. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back.”

The success of Steve Jobs products isn’t a hazardous happening, it is the result of quality. It’s very easy to debate again and again about the importance of quality but Apple and Steve Jobs pushed this concept forward: they made it a dogma. All the employees adopted the philosophy of Steve Jobs and the results are incontestable.

Steve Jobs based his idea about quality on some simple facts, worldwide recognized, but very few had the courage to apply. He assured the best conditions for work, stimulated innovation but at the same time established high standards. It’s clear that working for Apple is a great pleasure and honor, but at the same time very few manage to resist the high pressure.

Each person must learn that no one can turn into a design superstar without hard work, passion and long time endeavor. Much more, it’s impossible to turn into a famous brand overnight.

5. Good management is decisive

“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.”

There are very few bosses deeply respected and fewer really loved. The majority of the Apple employees loved Steve Jobs, quite probably, but surely, all of them respected him. He was that kind of CEO that puts the subordinates under pressure not to bring him bigger profit but to create new gadgets and offer the best products to the customers. A basic rule of management states that every successful manager must be a leader, or else it’s quite difficult to direct the employees.

Steve Jobs is the perfect example of good management (yep, he made many other mistakes across time but I prefer to reveal mostly the positive aspects). He was charismatic and people loved his direct and incisive style, he was never afraid of speaking frankly and let people know his opinions. This worked at the subliminal level and Apple employees were influenced and adopted the same style that is the base of a stable and healthy progress. Undoubtedly, he was the prominent personality in the company but, at the same time, he built a team of direct subordinates who will manage the company in the future. A real leader always will prepare people who must be ready to become no.1 in a community and Jobs has clearly done his duty.

Another great idea of Steve Jobs management was the courage to think differently. He never agrees that the profit must be obtained by cutting costs, a better approach being to merely innovate and sell amazing products. It’s enough to see the profits of Apple and see that this theory is the recipe for success. Personally, I ask myself how Apple capitalization would be unless the economical crisis would exist…thinks again, the iPad and iPhone aren’t quite cheap and accessible to everyone.

I think that many managers must pay closer attention to the mentality of Jobs, no one may say it is perfect or the only one to bring profit but it is highly recommended to be aware that it may be a good approach.

6. Collaboration is key factor in any team

“My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other’s negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are not done by one person, they are done by a team of people”

Steve Jobs didn’t try to form a team only at the executive level. Apple in the entire his structure must be based on small but active teams. Another key factor in the success of Apple was the diversity of the teams, Jobs didn’t hire only designers or engineers, he preferred people from various fields, the most important being to be creative and fell in love with the company. The diversity of teams assures different perspectives and it is the perfect climate for innovation, a so much loved term by Jobs.

Once with the writing of this paragraph I imposed to myself to become even more open and never take the criticism and the diversity of the opinions as a negative fact. And in addition of that I promise myself that I will think deeper to any collaborators proposals. I will let you know in a future article about the results, what do you think will it be interesting?

7. The details make the big difference

“Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. The iMac is not just the color or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element plays together.”

Well, there is no designer who doesn’t know that details matter the most…this is valid for the world of design to the car industry. The real matter is how to effectively take care of any detail. The success of Apple is based on the attention to any detail, anyone may learn about what the “art”of respecting the clients really supposes. Firstly, the products are all created to satisfy the clients, to make everything more enjoyable for them. Secondly, the iStore assures enough apps and games not to be bored for thousands of years and there is no fact, situation, or something similar not to find an application for. Third, but not last no one may say something negative about customer relationships. The result of the “royal”treatment is obvious: there are tons of people effectively living in front of Apple stores before/after an iPhone or iPad is launched. Undoubtedly, any corporation, big company, agency, or individual freelancers must embrace the same conception.

8. Don’t do something only to look nice

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Many people criticized Apple products because these look wonderful only to impress people and to forget about other important features as battery life, applications, 3G/4G signal etc. It is the opinion of a small part of the people and I must respect it, but I believe that is totally wrong. Steve Jobs desire was to create something stunning, innovative, and timeless and Apple products are manufactured having these in mind. The ex CEO, but also the presented executive board let us know that they don’t create just to make nice designs, the products to sell are accessible, enjoyable and intuitive for customers. Design is how it works…

Nevertheless, what in fact represents Steve Jobs for me? I wasn’t very sad because Steve Jobs died, it’s how he said, something inevitable and quite probable the best invention of life. Instead, I am sad because such a great mind died only at 55 years old, he had tons of projects and maybe the future will look better with him. His mind was still eager to bring new and new novelties in the field…this is the main lose of the humanity.

Steve Jobs represents for me and for many other people a great source of inspiration- it’s enough to re-watch his keynotes when presenting a new iPhone or iPad. Also, I appreciate him because he proved that impossible is only for lazy people, there is nothing not to be achieved by a strong passion. Until him, it was only a nice conception, now I strongly believe in it. It will be great to know what represents Steve Jobs for you, share with us your thoughts. I added here ten most interesting quotations from Steve Jobs, these, believe me, will give you an unexpected source of energy and inspiration!

  1. “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
  2. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
  3. “The hardest thing when you think about focusing. You think focusing is about saying “Yes.”No. Focusing is about saying “No.”And when you say “No,”you piss off people.”
  4. “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”
  5. “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”
  6. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
  7. “I met Woz when I was 13, at a friend’s garage. He was about 18. He was, like, the first person I met who knew more electronics than I did at that point. We became good friends, because we shared an interest in computer and we had a sense of humor. We pulled all kinds of pranks together.”
  8. “What we want to do is make a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has ever been, and super-easy to use. This is what iPhone is. OK? So, we’re going to reinvent the phone.”
  9. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard on something, but working on Macintosh was the neatest experience of my life. Almost everyone who worked on it will say that. None of us wanted to release it at the end. It was as though we knew that once it was out of our hands, it wouldn’t be ours anymore.”
  10. “And one more thing…”

Thanks Steve for everything you done! Rest in peace!

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

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One Comment

  1. He wasn’t a computer genius, he was just charismatic..
    I wounder if you’ll write similar article about Dennis Ritchie? The man who actually did something useful?

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