Things I have learned from Steve Jobs

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I finally got around to reading the book, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson over winter break.  I was finally at a point in my life when I actually had time to read it.  I knew it was going to be epic, so I decided to take notes on my iPad while I read it.  This blog post is a compilation of all my favorite quotes from the book.  For those of you who won't get around to reading this daunting book of nearly 600 pages, I hope that you find this post to be valuable.

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The 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." - Steve Jobs


"Polite and velvety leaders who take care to avoid bruising others are generally not as effective at forcing change. Dozens of the colleagues whom Jobs most abused ended their litany of horror stories by saying that he got them to do things they never dreamed possible. And he created a corporation crammed with A players."

"Some leaders push innovations by being good at the big picture. Others do so by mastering details. Jobs did both relentlessly. As a result he launched a series of products over three decades that transformed whole industries."

"I don't think I run roughshod over people, but if something sucks, I tell people to their face. It's my job to be honest. That's the culture I tried to create. We are brutally honest with each other. That's the ante for being in the room: You've got to be able to be super honest."

"If you act like you can do something, then it will work. Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are."


"If you don't build your dreams, someone else will hire you to help build theirs."

"I have my own theory about why decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in the field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they're the ones who can move the needle on the revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the sales people end up running the company."

"You should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last."

"It reinforced my sense of what was important -- creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could."

"A great company must be able to impute its values from the first impression that it makes."

"Either make something you can sell or go get a job."

"The stores would impute the ethos of Apple products: playful, easy, creative, and on the bright side of the line between hip and intimidating."

"Jobs was a strong believer in face-to-face meetings. There's a temptation in our network page to think that ideas can be developed by email and ichat. Thats crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they're doing, you say wow and soon your cooking up all sorts of ideas."

"My goal has always been not only to make great products, but to build great companies."

"What are the 5 products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest because they're dragging you down."

"Competition among a variety of devices and manufacturers leads to greater consumer choice and more innovation."


"The reason Apple resonates with people is that there's a deep current of humanity in our innovation. I think great artists and great engineers are similar, in that they both have a desire to express themselves.

"In most people's vocabularies, design means veneer. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers."

"If we are going to make things in our lives, we might as well make them beautiful."

"Real artists simplify"

"There should be no distinction between fine art and applied industrial design."

"Less is more"

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"

"Why do we assume that simple is good? Because with physical products, we have to feel we can dominate them. As you bring order to complexity, you find a way to make the product defer to you."

"The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious."

"the iPod became the essence of everything Apple was destined to be: poetry connected to engineering, arts and creativity intersecting with technology, design that's bold and simple."

"Part of the reason we model our computers on metaphors like the desktop is that we can leverage this experience people already have."

"Great art stretches the taste, it doesn't follow tastes"

"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 ever 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."


"To create a new standard takes not just making something that's a little bit different, it takes something that's really new and captures people's imagination."

"Apple, Jobs considered his greatest creation a place where imagination was nurtured applied and executed in ways so creative that it became the most valuable company on earth."

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

"And he was able to infuse into its DNA the design sensibilities, perfectionism, and imagination that make it likely to be, even decades from now, the company that thrives best at the intersection of artistry and technology."

"My view is that people are creative animals and will figure out clever new ways to use tools that the inventor never imagined."

"It was designed to celebrate not what the computers could do, but what creative people could do with the computers."

"Asked if he wanted to do market research he said no because customers don't know what they want until we've shown them."

"Some people say, 'Give the customers what they want'. But that's not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they're going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, 'If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, A faster horse!' People don't know what they want until you show it to them. That's why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page."

"Apple is about people who think outside the box, who want to use computers to help them change the world."


Isaacson, W. (2011). Steve Jobs. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.