5 things I have learned from Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs spoke often to the media and from it we can gain a great deal of insight into his life, but, more importantly, we can learn from him. Steve Jobs is undoubtedly one of the true giants of industry and blazed an amazing trail through his career. So what do we learn from him? We can never be Steve Jobs and it’s unlikely any of us will do what he did or match that level of success, but his advice is very relevant, regardless of where you are on your career path, or what your goals may be. When a man like Steve Jobs gives advice, it’s not something to ignore. From the countless things we can learn from Steve Jobs, some of the most important are gathered below.

1. Perseverance

This is the simplest one to give and the hardest to implement. It’s also the most clichéd and obvious, but it’s worth repeating again and again. Steve Jobs never gave up. Even when he was forced out of the company he founded, he just kept pushing only to found and develop a few other important companies, and eventually return to Apple. He brought Apple from the brink of nothingness back to being one of the most important tech companies in the world. The difference between success and failure is often the will to keep pushing, to keep trying. Rather than get discouraged because something isn’t working, try something new. Start again. Restart a thousand times because that thousandth time might be the one that turns you from failure to unimaginable success. This is, of course, the hardest to do. You’ll get discouraged because you’ll fail. You won’t just fail once either. You’ll fail over and over. What will determine your success is your ability to stand back up and push forward.

2. Don’t settle for mediocrity.

Another one that sounds simple and seems obvious but is worth repeating. Never settle for good enough. Whatever product or service you’re designing or selling, make it important and make it matter. Package it in a way that sticks out and separates you from the millions of other businesses out there. This goes all the way from products and services to employees. Don’t settle for people who can simply do the job. Find people who will turn that job into something unexpected and great. Find the greatness in people and use that to your advantage. If you have mediocre employees, you’ll always have a mediocre product or service, no matter how great it is on paper. Ideas matter, but people matter more. The best idea in the hands of a fool will always fail. So don’t settle for the middle. Always aim high.

3. “Creativity is just connecting things.”

That quote from Steve Jobs is the perfect example of simple advice that’s hard to implement. When you’re creating and developing your business, don’t simply aim for faster, easier, cheaper, and better. Make something unique. Take the familiar and turn it on its side. Look at how the iPod changed the way we consume music. Portable music’s been around for a while, whether in tapes or CDs or records, but iPods became a whole new way to get access to your favorite songs and artists. Sometimes the best ideas come from repackaging old ones and making them appear new. That’s what he means by connecting things. Connect the old and familiar with the new and surprising. Do things differently.

4. Money is not an adequate motivator.

Money is, of course, important, and you need to be able to offer competitive pay, but more money isn’t what turns a good performer into a great one. What motivates real innovators and entrepreneurs once their basic needs are met is the ability to make a meaningful impact. Mastery of your products and services, new challenges–these are the things that keep a person going once they have their base needs. Be passionate about your work and others will find passion in it. Sure, work for the paycheck at first. That’s important and necessary. But once you get past that initial hurdle, that drive needs to come from within.

5. Do what you love.

This is related to number 4 and it’s another one that sounds simple but may take a lifetime to figure out. Because money will only get you so far, true success comes from taking what you love and making it better. Steve Jobs didn’t need to keep working after he made all those millions at such a young age, but he kept pushing, and it wasn’t out of greed. He believed in what he was doing and it made him the innovator we all know. He changed the shape of the tech field and the world as we relate to it. That doesn’t come from chasing dollar signs.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.