Steve Jobs is one of the most versatile and innovative business icons of our times or any time. He has joined the pantheon of greats like Einstein who have had a huge impact on the world and also our every day lives. A smart phone is now something which we cannot live without. There are things not to learn from him as well. The key things to learn are focus, creativity, simplicity and ability to take tough decisions. All these are requirements to be a great business leader. Leadership is not only about saying yes to great opportunities but it is also about saying no to a number of good opportunities,
Here are 9 timeless lessons to learn from Steve Jobs.
S — Sell yourself–Steve Jobs was unafraid of showing off. In fact it could be argued this was his biggest asset. Unless you show others what you are capable of nobody is going to know. I think we should learn to sell ourselves not in an abrupt manner but a classy manner. This requires practice but this will pay off in spades. He was always in the spotlight, enjoyed it and created the larger than life personality. In fact before videos were popular he was the one making sure his message got across. So take the time to understand what your strengths are and then tailor your message to enhance your brand value. There is no now more avenues for you to showcase your brilliance and the world needs you be at your best. Selling yourself is the first step towards any form of success.
Lesson: Never sell yourself short. Always exhibit your prowess.
T — Talent– If there is anyone who epitomizes the word talent it has to be Steve Jobs. How many people started a company in the garage, enjoyed massive success, get fired from the company he founded, founded another company, made successful movies and came back for one of the biggest turn around in business history. He is one who believed in his talent even when he was at his depth. Never lose faith in your ability in spite of any setbacks you face. He believed in his talent when no one else did. Talent is something that needs to be nurtured and cultivated. Keep enhancing your talent through continuous learning. Appreciate all the great talents you already have and keep expanding your repertoire.
Lesson: Believe in your Talent and show case your best self at all times.
E — Enthusiasm– Steve Jobs did everything with unwavering enthusiasm. He was unafraid of the rule book and pushed the limits of innovation. Everyone looks to the customer for ideas on what they want. Steve went the other way he invented what he believed would make the customer get wowed. One example is he even wanted the inside of the mother boards to be so beautiful and when the team asked who would see it Steve replied “I will.” He could turn on his charm/enthusiasm at will and had the ability to charm one and all. There is no charisma without enthusiasm. As documented in Inc. Magazine back in the 1981 cover story “When Steve Jobs speaks it is with “gee-whiz” enthusiasm of someone who sees the future and is making sure it works.” Enthusiasm is not a soft tactic but something that is absolutely essential to be a great business leader.
Lesson: Do everything with your stamp of enthusiasm.
V — Victory –Steve Jobs is one person who believed in victory at all costs. He took a no prisoners attitude towards life and he was always looking out for the next BIG thing. Surprisingly he always found the next best thing for the world to be awed. Of course there are also stories where he would turn down someone’s idea and then say the same idea to a group as if it were his own. This is obviously something not to learn but his overall genius masks any downsides he may have had. He wanted to always control the software, hardware and operating system for all products as that would give complete leverage and gave Apple total control/responsibility of the user experience. He was obsessed with minimalism to ensure the customer experience was simple. Go for victory in everything you do and always learn from defeat. As some of the generals say forget the last victory and plan for new victories.
Lesson: Begin with the End in Mind and plan for ultimate victory.
E –Energy –Without high energy he could not have sustained his passion over the years in wilderness. He could easily have retired into the background after his ouster as he had already enough money but he had a bigger vision for his life and started another company which showed his tremendous drive. He had enormous energy and this was very much exhibited in his second coming to Apple(he was also running Pixar at the same time which took a lot out of him) where he patiently took the title of Interim CEO and ensured consecutive quarters of profit before taking the permanent post. He was an unstoppable person with enormous energy and it paid off in dividends. He also wore the same color outfit and as research confirms he was a minimalist. This means he used his mind only to make important decisions. So identify the times when your energy is highest in the day and align your most important activities to that time of the day. Further to this identify the prime time of your customer and ensure your energy is highest at that time. Churchill is another example of a person who conserved his energy at all times.
Lesson: Keep your energy levels high at all times, determine which times of the day are your most productive and do your most important work at that time.
J — Journey — His life epitomizes that life is a journey. Even for a person as talented as Steve Jobs, there will be setbacks/bumps along the journey of life. It is how we bounce back from seeming setbacks that truly measure our heart for exceptional success. The journey is an adventure and we all can have a second coming like Steve Jobs if ever we find ourselves in a precarious position provided we believe in the journey and understand that life is not a destination. Ups and downs are part of everyday life. He made most of his time in the wilderness and came back as a stronger leader. Your life is a journey worth recording and cherishing. We all get one chance at life and we can make the journey count. As it is often said you can live life any way you want but you can live it only once.
Lesson: Life is a journey not a destination. Enjoy the adventure.
O- Optimism — The key to success lies in optimism. It’s not what happens to us but how we respond to what happens to us that matters. Steve Jobs believed in his products even when he was the only one with the vision. He was not even sure if it will be accepted in the market but he showed undying optimism to see success till the end. Even in his professional nadir he showed enduring optimism and show what one can achieve with optimism and belief. An example is the Apple Stores concept. Initially the media had written this off as a non-starter but Jobs believed in it. He wanted to take retailing and brand image to a new level. He even asked the prototype of the store be done in secret. Your belief in yourself is what will ensure that you reach your ultimate vision. So populate your business with team members who are optimistic and passionate.
Lesson: Be an eternal optimist. An optimist sees an opportunity in every difficulty.
B- Boldness — Steve Jobs epitomized boldness and took risks even when failure was a possibility. He believed in being the best in his field and showed what a pioneer does to be called the best. He not only showcased vision, he also exhibited audacity and he believed that there is only one thing the customer wants more than anything and that is the BEST. His eye for details was amazing as he even focused on the staircases of the Apple Stores and wanted it done to perfection. Simplicity and lack of distraction was the key to the success of the stores. When the iPhone came out initially it was criticized for being too expensive and it didn’t have a keyboard but Steve Jobs had the last laugh. Once again his bold actions left people and his competitors breathless. Take calculated risks in the direction of your dreams and your boldness will leave your competitors breathless in awe of your capabilities.
Lesson: Be bold with a touch of audacity and go for the best in everything you do.
S — Story Telling –Steve Jobs had a unique ability to sell to the world his vision of the story. This was famously called the Reality Distortion field and everyone who knew him has said that he sold his vision so well that no one could dispute that or take their eyes off his vision. In the book Second Coming of Steve Jobs the author says he had a seductive personality and people especially the media were very attracted to him and his personality. He was a unique ICON who made a huge difference in this world. An example is the Stanford Commencement where he gave one of the best speeches. He eloquently weaved his life into three simple stories which resonated with the audience. The three stories about his life were “Dropping out of college”, “How getting fired from Apple was good for him”, and “Being diagnosed with Cancer and the awareness it brought.” Right now a lot of research confirms that story telling is very important for a leader to master.
Lesson: Be true to yourself, discover what you are best at and ensure others buy into your beliefs.
There you have it the 9 lessons to learn from Steve Jobs. He is someone who has inspired millions and continues to be an intriguing personality. I am sure he will be revered by generations to follow.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.