August 14, 2016

Steve Jobs: 10 Rules for Life

Source: Evan Carmichael’s “Steve Jobs’s Top 10 Rules For Success”

10 rules derived from various speeches and interviews with Steve Jobs.

   I. Don't live a limited life

      "The thing I would say is, when you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is, and your 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 life, have fun, save a little money. But that's a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact. And that is: 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. And the minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will -- you know if you push in something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it... That's maybe the most important thing; is to shake off this eroneous notion that life is there and you're just gonna live in it; versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it. I think that's very important. And however you learn that, once you learn it, you'll want to change life and make it better because it's kind of messed up in a lot of ways. Once you learn that you'll never be the same again."


  II. Have passion

      "People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you're doing, and it's totally true, and the reason is because it's so hard that if you don't, any rational person would give up. It's really hard! And you have to do it over a sustained period of time, so if you don't love it, if you're not having fun doing it, and you don't really love it, you're gonna give up. And that's what happens to most people actually, if you really look at the ones that ended up being "successful" in the eyes of society and the ones that didn't, often times it's the ones that are successful love what they did so they could persevere, you know, when it got really tough. And the ones that didn't love it, quit; because they're sane. Right? Who would want to put up with this stuff if you don't love it? So it's a lot of hard work, and it's a lot of worrying, constantly. And if you don't love it, you're gonna fail. So you gotta love it and you gotta have passion."


 III. Design for yourself

      "We had absolutely no idea what people were gonna do with these things when we started out. As a matter of fact, the two people it was designed for was Woz and myself, because we couldn't afford to buy a computer kit on the market. So we liberated some parts from Hewlett-Packard and Atari, and worked on a design for about six months and decided that we would build our own computer. So we built one, and Woz was up 'til 4 in the morning for many moons, and we got it working. We showed some of our friends; immediately everybody wanted one. And it turned out that it took about 40 hours to build one of these things and about another 20, 30, 40 to debug it. And we had a lot of friends that worked at similar companies who could liberate the parts also, and we found ourselves spending every spare moment of our time helping our friends to build computers. And it was just getting to be a tremendous drain on our lives. So we got the idea one day that we could make a printed circuit board without the parts, and sell these blank printed circuit boards to our friends and probably cut the assembly and debug time down to about 5, 10 hours. So Woz sold his HP(unintelligible) calculator and I sold my van, we got $1300 together and we paid a friend of ours who was this PC board layout person. $1300 bucks to do us a layout, and decided we'd sell printed circuit boards at twice what it cost to build them, and hopefully recoup our calculator and transportation at some later date. So that's what we did and I was out trying to peddle PC boards one day and walked into a bike shop, the first bike shop in Mountain View, and Paul Terrell the then owner of the bike shop said he would like to take 50 of these computers. And I saw dollar signs in front of my eyes, but he had one catch which was that he wanted them fully assembled and tested, ready to go, which is a new twist. So we spent the next five days on the phone with distributors, and convinced the electronics parts distributors around here to give us about $10,000 worth of parts on thin air, just on enthusiasm. So we got the parts and we built 100 computers and we sold 50 of them for cash and in 29 days paid off the distributors. And that's how we got started. So we had 50 computers left over. Well that meant we had to sell them, so then started worrying about marketing, worrying about distribution. Got on the phone with the other computer stores around the country. And gradually the whole thing began to build momentum, and at that point in time we had some feeling that we were on to something. But the feeling is so different than the experience of actually seeing it happen right now. It's entirely different. And sometimes a lot of people ask, well did you know it was going to mushroom into this phenomenon? And you can say "Yeah you know we planned it out. We had lead on a piece of paper." But it was different than the experience of seeing 500 people working at Apple Computer. It's very different than the experience of seeing a 5-year-old kid who really understands the tool that he's got in front of him."


  IV. Don't sell crap

      "[Steve and I] had worked together on a Nike/Apple collaboration called Nike+. So we took what Apple knows, what Nike knows, and brought a new technology to the market. Anyway, long story short, [Steve] said 'Hey congratulations, it's great, you're going to do a great job.' I said 'Well do you have any advice?' And he said 'No, no, you're great.' And then there was a pause, and he goes 'Well I do have some advice.' He goes 'Nike makes some of the best product in the world. I mean, product that you lust after, absolutely beautiful, stunning product. But you also make a lot of crap.' He said 'Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.' And then I expected a little pause and a laugh, but there was a pause but no laugh at the end. And he was absolutely right."


   V. Build a great team

      Steve: "The greatest people are self-managing. They don't need to be managed. Once they know what to do, they'll go figure out how to do it and they don't need to be managed at all. What they need is a common vision, and that's what leadership is. What leadership is is having a vision, being able to articulate that so the people around you can understand it, and getting a consensus on a common vision. We wanted people that were insanely great at what they did but were not necessarily those seasoned professionals, but who had at the tips of their fingers and in their passion the latest understanding of where technology was and what we could do with that technology, and who wanted to bring that to lots of people. So the neatest thing that happens is when you get a core group of, you know, 10 great people it becomes self-policing as to who they let into that group. So I consider the most important job of someone like myself is recruiting."

Apple employee: "We agonized over hiring. We had interviews -- you could go back and look at some of the interview agendas -- they would start at 9 or 10 in the morning and go through dinner. A new interviewee would talk to everybody in the building, at least once and maybe a couple times, and then come back for another round of interviews. And then we'd all get together and talk about it. (And then they'd have to fill out an application.) [laughs] No, they never filled out-- nobody ever filled out a job application."

Andy Hertzfeld: "The most critical part of the interview at least to my mind was when we finally decided we like them enough to show them the Macintosh prototype. And then you sat them down in front of it and if they just were kinda bored or said 'This is a nice computer' we didn't want them. We wanted their eyes to light up and them to get really excited and then we knew they were one of us."

Rony Sebok: "And everybody just wanted to work. Not because it was work that had to be done but it was because something that we really believed in that was just gonna really make a difference. And that's what kept the whole thing going."

Andy: "We all wanted exactly the same thing, and instead of spending our time arguing about what the computer should be, we all knew what the computer should be and we just went and did it."

Steve: "We went through that stage at Apple where we went out and we thought 'Oh we're going to be a big company, let's hire professional management.' We went out and hired a bunch of professional management -- it didn't work at all. Most of them were bozos. They knew how to manage, but they didn't know how to do anything! And so, if you're a great person, why do you want to work for somebody that you can't learn anything from? You know what's interesting, you know who the best managers are? They are the great individual contributors who never ever want to be a manager, but decide they have to be a manager because no one else is gonna be able to do as good a job as them."

Narrator: "After hiring two professional managers from outside the company and firing them both, Jobs gambled on Debbie Coleman, a member of the Macintosh team. 32 years old, an English literature major with an MBA from Stanford, Debbie was a financial manager with no experience in manufacturing."

Debbie: "I mean there's no way in the world anybody else would give me this chance to run this kind of operation, and I don't kid myself about that. This is an incredible high-risk, both for myself personally and professionally and for Apple as a company, to put a person like myself in this job. I mean they're really betting on a lot of things. We're betting that my skills at organizational effectiveness, you know, override all those 'lack of technology, lack of experience, lack of time in manufacturing.' So it's a big risk and I'm just an example, and every single person on the Mac team -- almost to your entry-level person you could say that about -- this is a place where people were afforded this incredibly unique opportunity to prove that they could write the book again."

Narrator: "Inscribed inside the casing of every Macintosh, unseen by the consumer, are the signatures of the whole team. This is Apple's way of affirming that their latest innovation is a product of the individuals who created it, not the corporation."


  VI. Don't do it for the money

      "It's very interesting. I was worth over a million dollars when I was 23, and over $10 million when I was 24, and over $100 million when I was 25. And it wasn't that important, because I never did it for the money. I think money is a wonderful thing because it enables you to do things, it enables you to invest in ideas that don't have a short-term payback and things like that. But especially at that point in my life, it was not the most important thing. The most important thing was the company, the people, and the products we were making, what we were gonna enable people to do with these products. So I didn't think about it a great deal. You know, I never sold any stock, and just really believed that the company would do very well over the long term."


 VII. Be proud of your products

      "Our goal is to make the best personal computers in the world, and to make products we are proud to sell and would recommend to our family and friends. And we want to do that at the lowest prices we can, but I have to tell you there's some stuff in our industry that we wouldn't be proud to ship, that we wouldn't be proud to recommend to our family and friends. And we can't do it, we just can't ship junk. So, there are thresholds that we can't cross 'cause of who we are, but we want to make the best personal computers in the industry, and we think there is a very significant slice of the industry that wants that too. And what you'll find is our products are usually not premium priced. You go and price out our competitors' products, and you add the features that you have to add to make them useful, and you'll find in some cases they are more expensive than our products. The difference is, we don't offer stripped-down, lousy products. We just don't offer categories of products like that. But if you move those aside, and compare us with our competitors, I think we compare pretty favorably."


VIII. Build around customers

      Audience member: "Mr. Jobs, you're a bright and influential man. (Here it comes.) [laughs] It's sad and clear that on several accounts you've discussed you don't know what you're talking about. I would like for example for you to express in clear terms how, say, Java in any of its incarnations addresses the ideas embodied in OpenDoc. And when you're finished with that, perhaps you could tell us what you personally have been doing for the last seven years."

Steve: "Uh. You know, you can please some of the people some of the time, but... One of the hardest things when you're trying to effect change is that people like this gentleman are right in some areas. I'm sure that there are some things OpenDoc does, probably even more that I'm not familiar with, that nothing else out there does. And I'm sure that you can make some demos, maybe a small commercial app that demonstrates those things. The hardest thing is, how does that fit in to a cohesive larger vision that's gonna allow you to sell $8 billion, $10 billion of product a year? And one of the things I've always found is that, you've gotta start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can't start with the technology and try to figure out where you're gonna try to sell it. And I've made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room, and I've got the scar tissue to prove it. And I know that it's the case. And as we have tried to come up with a strategy and a vision for Apple, it's started with 'What incredible benefits can we give to the customer, where can we take the customer?' Not starting with 'Let's sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and then how are we gonna market that?' And I think that's the right path to take. I remember with the Laser Writer, we built the world's first small laser printers you know, and there was awesome technology in that box. We had the first Canon cheap laser-printing engine in the world -- in the United States here -- at Apple. We had a very wonderful printer controller that we designed. We had Adobe's Post Script software, we had Apple Talk in there. Just awesome technology in the box, and I remember seeing the first printout come out of it, and just picking it up and looking at it and thinking 'You know, we can sell this.' Because you don't have to know anything about what's in that box. All we have to do is hold this [printout] and go 'Do you want this?' And if you can remember back in 1984 before laser printers it was pretty startling to see that. People went 'Whoa! Yes!' That's where Apple's got to get back to. You know, I'm sorry that OpenDoc's a casualty along the way, and I readily admit there are many things in life that I don't have the faintest idea what I'm talking about, so I apologize for that too. But there's a whole lot of people working super super hard right now at Apple -- you know Avi, John, Gorino, Fred -- I mean the whole team is working, burning the midnight oil, trying to -- and hundreds of people below them -- to execute on some of these things and they're doing their best. And some mistakes will be made by the way, some mistakes will be made along the way. That's good, 'cause at least some decisions are being made along the way. And we'll find the mistakes, and we'll fix them! And I think what we need to do is support that team, going through this very important stage as they work their butts off -- they're all getting calls being offered 3 times as much money to go do this or that, the Valley's hot -- none of them are leaving. And I think we need to support them and see them through this and write some damn good applications, to support Apple out in the market. That's my own point of view. Mistakes will be made, some people will be pissed off, some people will not know what they're talking about, but I think it is so much better than where things were not very long ago. And I think we're gonna get there."


  IX. Marketing is about Values

      Steve: "To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it's a very noisy world. We're not gonna get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. And so we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us. Now Apple fortunately is one of the half-a-dozen best brands in the whole world, right up there with Nike, Disney, Coke, Sony -- it is one of the greats of the greats, not just in this country but all around the globe. But even a great brand needs investment and caring if it's going to retain its relevance and vitality, and the Apple brand has clearly suffered from neglect in this area in the last few years. And we need to bring it back. The way to do that is not to talk about speeds and fees. It's not to talk about bits and mega-hertz, it's not to talk about why we're better than Windows. The diary industry tried for 20 years to convince you that milk was good for you. It's a lie, but they tried anyway. And the sales were going like this [decreasing]. And then they tried 'Got Milk' and the sales have gone like this [sharply increasing]. 'Got Milk' doesn't even talk about the product, as a matter of fact the focus is on the absence of the product. But the best example of all, and one of the greatest jobs of marketing that the universe has ever seen is Nike. Remember Nike sells a commodity! They sell shoes! And yet when you think of Nike, you feel something different than a shoe company. And their ads as you know, they don't ever talk about the product. They don't ever tell you about their air soles and why they're better than Reebok's air soles. What does Nike do in their advertising? They honor great athletes and they honor great athletics. That's who they are, that's what they are about. Apple spends a fortune on advertising. You'd never know it. You'd never know it. So when I got here, Apple just fired their agency and there was a competition with 23 agencies that you know four years from now would have picked one... and we blew that up, and we hired Chiat Day, the ad agency that I was fortunate enough to work with years ago, we created some award winning work including the commercial voted the best ad ever made, 1984, by advertising professionals. And we started working about 8 weeks ago, and the question we asked was, our customers want to know, 'Who is apple and what is it that we stand for? Where do we fit in this world?' What we're about isn't making boxes for people to get their jobs done, although we do that well. We do that better than almost anybody in some cases. But Apple's about something more than that. Apple, at the core, its core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. That's what we believe. And we've had the opportunity to work with people like that. We've had an opportunity to work with people like you, with software developers, with customers, who have done it in some big and some small ways. And we believe that, in this world, people can change it for the better. And that those people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that actually do. And so what we're going to do in our first brand marketing campaign in several years, is to get back to that core value. A lot of things have changed. The market's a totally different place than it was a decade ago. And Apple's totally different, and Apple's place in it is totally different, and believe me the products and the distribution strategy, manufacturing, are totally different and we understand that. But values and core values, those things shouldn't change. The things that Apple believed in at its core are the same things that Apple really stands for today. And so we wanted to find a way to communicate this, and what we have is something that I am very moved by. It honors those people who have changed the world. Some of them are living, some of them are not. But the ones that aren't, as you'll see, you know that if they ever used a computer it would have been a Mac. [laughter, applause] The theme of the campaign is 'Think Different.' It's honoring the people who think different, and who move this world forward. It is what we are about, it touches the soul of this company. So I'm gonna go ahead and roll it, and I hope that you feel the same way about it I do."

Ad: "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About 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 people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."


   X. Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

      "No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

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. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: It was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."



Ben Sullivan