I love books that add value to our lives and provide us with lot of inspiration. This particular book titled
“How to think like Steve Jobs” happened to grab my attention out of nowhere when I was browsing through the personal library of my wife’s father. It’s true that there are numerous books written by many, under the label of Steve Jobs, and I believe they all share the wisdom of Steve Jobs in overall, no matter how different their stories are.
In the course of reading this book “How to think like Steve Jobs“, I was able to harness an array of material on this man, once known as the hardest-working man in Silicone Valley, and how he transformed the computer and music industries. He was known to lead Apple from its humble beginnings, starting it off in his parents’ garage to the global empire it is today. So the big question for everybody, (especially after his death) was How did he do it? In this book, the author tries to answer this question by drawing out key elements on Job’s life and work, and about his vision towards technology. In fact, the book suggests that everything Jobs produced (Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad) has the personality, charisma and his style built-in to them. So it’ll be worthy to study his life rather than his products so we could add some value to our lives and view the world from the eyes of a visionary.
In this post I intend highlight some of the key elements from this book, that took my attention, as in below.
Follow your own road…
According to this book, Jobs stood apart from all-too-common ideas of his time and always embraced the free-thinking, unconventional ideas. In his youth, he was kind of following his own creed, and was obsessed with exploring the “truth of life” with his friends. This resulted his passion towards the Hippie culture, and a taste for books about Mind, Body, Spirit subject, and for books that claim to reveal the secrets of Zen Buddhism. But I believe some of his ways of exploring the “truth of life” are too eccentric, such as his addiction to a drug called LSD which might had had an impact on his health conditions that he encountered later on. As a willful thinker, he went to India, a journey to discover himself, as he would later say, enabled him to get to the insights of Zen Buddhism. The books he had been reading on Zen Buddhism made him believe in following your gut feeling over the intellectual understanding, was something he firmly held in his mind, as in his own words, “the power of intuition and experiential wisdom”. His willingness to follow his intuition at tough times made what Apple is today, says the book.
The book tells about a story of Mike Markkula, a professional investor who joined Apple to finance the company. On his arrival, Markkula set a condition that Steve Woz should devote his full time to company. But Woz was comfortable with his position at Hewlett-Packard at that time, and was happy with a decent pay-cheque at the end of each month. But Markkula was determined that this would not be the case, and he went on to pursue Woz to ride along as one whole team, and spoke about the potential of their new business, how it would shape the future world. Steve Jobs on the other-hand went on supporting Markkula’s “dream big” vision and finally insisted Woz to stay at Apple full-time, which in turn made him stay. Within a few months after Markkula joined, Apple secured a record in their revenue with millions of dollars. The moral of the story is, small thinkers never do big things.
Look around for inspiration
The book mentions that Steve Jobs was fond of incorporating ideas into his products, based on what was already done. An example which confirms this claim was the mouse-enabled iconic GUI in Macintosh. Job’s inspiration for an interactive device for Macintosh began when he paid a visit to Xerox PARC, the R&D facility of Xerox, where he saw a demonstration of Xerox Alto personal computer. He was amazed by a system of on-screen icons that could be selected using a device called a mouse. These icons then opened up with windows filled with menus from which the user can select commands and execute them. This was quite unorthodox compared to what was conventional at that time, where computers with only keyboards were common and users had to type in commands. Jobs began setting up a team to build a more versatile mouse that is less complex to operate and much faster, and Macintosh came a few years later. Although Xerox had the pride of their original idea, they did not know exactly where they were heading with it, but Jobs gained fruitful results by putting it in the correct manner and changed the computing forever.
Turn adversity into Advantage
It was a difficult time for Jobs when he got fired from Apple, but he kept his motivation up and went on founding two companies, NeXT and Pixar. At NeXT, he manufactured computers for higher education and business markets, whereas at Pixar he went on producing animated films. After their first movie production, “Toy Story” Pixar became a ground breaking success and Jobs was rich from Pixar as much as he was from Apple. The experience he gained by founding NeXT and Pixar enabled Jobs to spread more authority over Apple upon his second return to the company.
Create Space for Creativity
Jobs always wanted Apple to be a collaborative company. He often considered his team of technicians, designers and programmers as the driving force behind their products, and made sure that they are not constrained by corporate matters and office procedures. This in turn made a creative space for them to focus only on their respective creative job. In return he expected from everyone to feel to do their best work and that no individual could do it alone. Jobs’ dream was to run his company as the British rock band ‘Beatles’ as he thought Beatles as a good model for a collaborative company. He believed that such a model could produce work greater than the sum of individuals. After all the success that Apple had gained, we can’t simply rule out that this theory of his is wrong.
These are some of the facts I thought as most valuable from this book, ‘How to think like Steve Jobs‘. For more information I highly encourage anyone to read this book, and to ponder on whether those life-lessons from Steve Jobs could be equally applied to ours.