It is amazing how the brain works! How it seemingly associates random thoughts and events. Normally I drive a particular route to work every morning but I found myself taking a new “short cut” the other day which brought me passed the following mural just off Camden Street:
“U ARE ALIVE* *Avail of this once in a lifetime opportunity”
Reading this profound statement instantly reminded me of Steve Jobs, his life and in particular an insightful quote of his.
1) Life is Short, have no Regrets
“Remembering that we are going to die is the best way of reminding ourselves that we have nothing to lose. We are already naked. There is no reason why we should not follow our heart.”
I guess that this quote is even more profound coming from Steve Jobs given his particular circumstances prior to his final passing. His life very much espoused the essence of these words. Indeed, he seemed to be a man who lived his business and professional life to the full. He was introduced to Steve Wozniak (21) by a mutual friend at the age of 16. They literally started Apple out of the garage of Jobs parent’s house. From these humble beginnings they built a multi-billion dollar corporation!
Although he didn’t live to a ripe old age by modern standards there is no doubt that from a business perspective Jobs achieved a phenomenal amount over the course of his life.
2) Don’t Follow the Herd
There is an old Wayne Gretzky quote that Steve Jobs loved to use:
‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’
Both Apple as a company and Steve Jobs as a person always tried to get ahead of the competition. Certainly in more recent years they did this by always aspiring to position the business and their products at the forefront of the information technology industry by foreseeing and setting trends, at least in innovation and style rather than following others. Is it any wonder that he almost single-handedly reinvented the PC industry and revolutionized five other industries in the process – the mobile phone sector, film, consumer electronics, music and the retail sector while influencing virtually every other industry?
The lesson here for any good business is not to fall in love with your own success. One of the biggest dangers to any business is believing that if we do what we did to become successful we will stay successful. Businesses need to embrace change and continually find new ways of adding value for their clients. The best way of doing this is to offer a unique value proposition. Something that is different and better to the rest of the market. Steve Jobs and Apple realised this and set the trends as opposed to following them!
3) We learn more from Failure than Success
Steve Jobs had many roles during his colourful and very distinguished business career. His roles at Apple included co-founder, marketer, entrepreneur, inventor, CEO, creative genius and designer. In 1984 Jobs began openly clashing with John Sculley, the CEO Jobs himself had lured away from Pepsi just a few years earlier. In May, Sculley stripped Jobs of his managerial duties and gave him the position of Chairman. Jobs spent four months trying to figure out his next move, and on September 16th, 1985, he resigned from Apple Computer. In spite of creating a hugely successful multinational, Jobs by the end of his first tenure there, had become marginalised by Sculley and the Board of Apple.
In a speech that Jobs gave at Stanford University, he explained that leaving Apple was the best thing that could have happened to him. He went on to elaborate:
“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
And he added: “I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.”
It was only after leaving Apple that he purchased a small company valued at $10 million dollars called Pixar. Jobs would go on to sell Pixar for $7.2 billion dollars in 2006. Obviously he would never have moved on to acquire and develop Pixar without having being removed from Apple!
By 2010 Steve Jobs was still valued by Forbes magazine as having a net worth of 8.5 billion dollars. I guess some of our greatest successes in life come out of learning from our mistakes? It is often said that the most successful people are the ones who have failed the most! While I do not necessarily agree with this statement in its entirety I believe that we can all learn from our past.
Do you think Steve Jobs would have gone on to have had so much success with Pixar and indeed Apple during his “second coming” if not for his initial dismissal?