Steve Jobs was a visionary. Always the quintessential entrepreneur, he saw the world of technology a little differently to many of his peers. Jobs ushered simple, beautiful design and user experience to the forefront of an industry and created solutions to problems that many of us didn’t even know we had.
Was he perfect? Of course not and nor could he have revolutionized mobile technology in the way he did without the technological brilliance of Wozniack or the design capabilities of Jonathan Ive and countless others.
But for sheer imagination and an ability to not just gamble on, but actively preempt what we were going to want next, Jobs was unparalleled.
When asked what market research he’d carried out he once famously said: “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”
So, let’s keep going and discover five things we can learn from Steve Jobs.
During the early part of the 1990’s it seemed to most of the watching world that Apple was on its last legs. ‘Overpriced and uninspired’ is just a sample of the criticism being leveled at the beleaguered company.
No longer the leading market force it once was and being defeated by Microsoft in almost every way, when Steve Jobs took the helm again in 1997, he knew what needed to be done and how to go about it.
He said: “Apple needs to find where it is still incredibly relevant and focus on those areas. It needs to figure out what its core assets are and invest more in them. Apple has neglected its core assets for a while. It has to forge some meaningful partnerships, not just press releases. And it needs to define some new product paradigms.”
To quote hotelier, Ellsworth M. Statler, “The salesman who thinks that his first duty is selling is absolutely wrong.”
Steve Jobs knew this better than most. He was first and foremost a user of technology. His genius was that he could see the future and then Apple could engineer it. The experts said, ‘who wants a computer at home…’ but Jobs simply created his own market and then he sold it on his vision.
But he never lost sight of the product. He said: “Many companies forget what it means to make great products. After initial success, sales and marketing people take over and the product people eventually make their way out.”
Steve Jobs was the ultimate scalp to take for tall poppy hunters. You could argue that he was gambling his legacy almost every day he was in business.
But Jobs’ instinct was to risk it all instead of playing it safe and the chances are that a quick glance at the device you are reading this on will show you how that worked out for him.
Just one example of Jobs betting his entire company’s future success was the iMac and he was proved right.
At the time he said: “iMac is next year’s computer for $1,299, not last year’s computer for $999.”
From the garage in Los Altos, California with Steve Wozniak to a staggering $66 billion (were he alive today), you always got the sense from Steve Jobs that he was living his dream.
At his iconic Stanford Commencement speech in 2005 Jobs said:
“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.”
Steve Jobs once effectively illustrated his take on design for us. He said: “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.”
This pathological sense of form and purpose pervades almost all of Apple’s products under Jobs. He was a perfectionist who knew how to get the most out of his team.
Jobs and the team at Apple changed such a wide spectrum of human experience because of their design thinking. From how we work and how we work out, to how we listen to music and make music. Apple changed it all.
Maybe the best quote is the simple one that now epitomizes Apple.