Inspirational and Success Quotes From Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Top Success Tips from Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Top Success Tips from Steve Jobs

The late, great Apple CEO Steve Jobs has made a huge impact on the way people in the world go about their business. Jobs had much to say before his untimely death in 2011. Take a look at his quotes on Apple, his competitors, his upbringing, and life in general.

Apple press release, Dec. 20 1996

We have an environment where excellence is really expected. What’s really great is to be open when [the work] is not great. My best contribution is not settling for anything but really good stuff, in all the details. That’s my job — to make sure everything is great.

When people look at an iMac, they think the design is really great, but most people don’t understand it’s not skin deep,’ he said. ‘There’s a reason why, after two years, people haven’t been able to copy the iMac. It’s not just surface. The reason the iMac doesn’t have a fan is engineering. It took a ton of engineering and that’s true for the Cube and everything else.

(on the iPod) If there was ever a product that catalyzed what’s Apple’s reason for being, it’s this.

Because it combines Apple’s incredible technology base with Apple’s legendary ease of use with Apple’s awesome design… it’s like, this is what we do. So if anybody was ever wondering why is Apple on the earth, I would hold this up as a good example.

Much of the industry has lived off the Macintosh for over ten years now, slowly copying the Mac’s revolutionary user interface. Now the time has come for new innovation, and where better than Apple for this to spring from? Who else has consistently led this industry–first with the Apple II, then the Macintosh and LaserWriter?

With this merger, the advanced software from NeXT will be married with Apple’s very high-volume hardware platforms and marketing channels to create another breakthrough, leapfrogging existing platforms, and fueling Apple and the industry copy cats for the next ten years and beyond. I still have very deep feelings for Apple, and it gives me great joy to play a role in architecting Apple’s future.

Business Week, May 12 1998

They are shamelessly trying to copy us. I think the most telling thing is that Tiger will ship at the end of the month and Longhorn is still two years out. They can’t even copy fast.

When [people] see the iMac, for example, they think we really can produce industry-leading products like this.

It’s not about charisma and personality, it’s about results and products and those very bedrock things that are why people at Apple and outside of Apple are getting more excited about the company and what Apple stands for and what its potential is to contribute to the industry.

I used to say that Apple should be the Sony of this business, but in reality, I think Apple should be the Apple of this business.

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them

BusinessWeek, May 12 1998

The organization is clean and simple to understand, and very accountable. Everything just got simpler. That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.

But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

BusinessWeek, Oct. 12 2004

I get asked a lot why Apple’s customers are so loyal. It’s not because they belong to the Church of Mac! That’s ridiculous. It’s because when you buy our products, and three months later you get stuck on something, you quickly figure out [how to get past it].

And you think, ‘Wow, someone over there at Apple actually thought of this!’ And then three months later you try to do something you hadn’t tried before, and it works, and you think ‘Hey, they thought of that, too.’ And then six months later it happens again. There’s almost no product in the world that you have that experience with, but you have it with a Mac

And how are monopolies lost?

Think about it. Some very good product people invent some very good products, and the company achieves a monopoly. But after that, the product people aren’t the ones that drive the company forward anymore. It’s the marketing guys or the ones who expand the business into Latin America or whatever.

Because what’s the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business from is yourself? So a different group of people start to move up. And who usually ends up running the show? The sales guy. John Akers at IBM is the consummate example.

Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason. But by then the best product people have left, or they’re no longer listened to. And so the company goes through this tumultuous time, and it either survives or it doesn’t.

Look at Microsoft — who’s running Microsoft? (interviewer: Steve Ballmer.) Right, the sales guy. Case closed. And that’s what happened at Apple, as well.

BusinessWeek, Oct. 12 2004

We’re both busy and we both don’t have a lot of time to learn how to use a washing machine or to use a phone. You get one of the phones now and you’re never going to learn more than 5 per cent of the features.

You’re never going to use more than 5 percent, and, uh, it’s very complicated.

So you end up using just 5 percent. It’s insane. We all have busy lives, we have jobs and we have interests and some of us have children, everyone’s lives are just getting busier, not less busy, in this busy society.

You just don’t have time to learn this stuff, and everything’s getting more complicated.

BusinessWeek, Oct. 12 2004

And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.

We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.

BusinessWeek, Oct. 12 2004

That was one of the things that came out most clearly from this whole experience [with cancer]. I realized that I love my life.

I really do. I’ve got the greatest family in the world, and I’ve got my work. And that’s pretty much all I do. I don’t socialize much or go to conferences. I love my family, and I love running Apple, and I love Pixar. And I get to do that. I’m very lucky.

BusinessWeek, Oct. 12 2004

I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do.

BusinessWeek, Oct. 12 2004

Our personal belief is that while there’s an opportunity to apply software to the living room, the merging of the computer and the TV isn’t going to happen. They’re really different things.

So yes, you want to share some information [between the two], but people who are planning to put computers into the living room, like they are today, I’m not sure they’re going to have a big success.

Fortune, Feb. 21 2005

The reason I went back to Apple is that I feel like the world would be a better place with Apple in it than not. And it’s hard to imagine the world without Apple now.

Software is the user experience. As the iPod and iTunes prove, it has become the driving technology not just of computers but of consumer electronics.

Fortune, Jan. 24 2000

We’re still heavily into the box. We love the box and We have amazing computers today, and amazing hardware in the pipeline. I still spend a lot of my time working on new computers, and it will always be a primal thing for Apple. But the user experience is what we care about most, and we’re expanding that experience beyond the box by making better use of the Internet.

The user experience now entails four things: the hardware, the operating system, the applications, and the Net. We want to do all four uniquely well for our customers.

Fortune, Jan. 24 2000

That’s why I dropped the ‘interim’ from my title. I’m still called iCEO, though, because I think it’s cool.

Fortune, Jan. 24 2000

In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. 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 of the product or service.

The iMac is not just the color or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element plays together. On our latest iMac, I was adamant that we get rid of the fan, because it is much more pleasant to work on a computer that doesn’t drone all the time.

That was not just ‘Steve’s decision’ to pull out the fan; it required an enormous engineering effort to figure out how to manage power better and do a better job of thermal conduction through the machine. That is the furthest thing from veneer. It was at the core of the product the day we started.

Fortune, Jan. 24 2000

When I got started I was 20 or 21, and my role models were the semiconductor guys like Robert Noyce and Andy Grove of Intel, and of course Bill Hewlett and David Packard. They were out not so much to make money as to change the world and to build companies that could keep growing and changing. They left incredible legacies. […] the rewarding thing isn’t merely to start a company or to take it public. It’s like when you’re a parent. Although the birth experience is a miracle, what’s truly rewarding is living with your child and helping him grow up.

Fortune, Jan. 24 2000

Now when we see new things or opportunities, we can seize them. In fact, we have already seized a few, like desktop movies, wireless networking, and iTools.

A creative period like this lasts only maybe a decade, but it can be a golden decade if we manage it properly.

Fortune, Mar. 7 2008

Things happen fairly slowly, you know. They do. These waves of technology, you can see them way before they happen, and you just have to choose wisely which ones you’re going to surf.

If you choose unwisely, then you can waste a lot of energy, but if you choose wisely it actually unfolds fairly slowly. It takes years.

One of our biggest insights [years ago] was that we didn’t want to get into any business where we didn’t own or control the primary technology because you’ll get your head handed to you.

Fortune, Mar. 7 2008

It’s not about pop culture, and it’s not about fooling people, and it’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t. We figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too.

That’s what we get paid to do. So you can’t go out and ask people, you know, what the next big [thing.] There’s a great quote by Henry Ford, right?

He said, ‘If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me ‘A faster horse.’

Fortune, Mar. 7 2008

We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.

Fortune, Mar. 7 2008

My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better. My job is to pull things together from different parts of the company and clear the ways and get the resources for the key projects.

And to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions of how it could be.

Fortune, Mar. 7 2008

Recruiting is hard. It’s just finding the needles in the haystack. We do it ourselves and we spend a lot of time at it. I’ve participated in the hiring of maybe 5,000-plus people in my life. So I take it very seriously. You can’t know enough in a one-hour interview.

So, in the end, it’s ultimately based on your gut. How do I feel about this person? What are they like when they’re challenged? Why are they here? I ask everybody that: ‘Why are you here?’ The answers themselves are not what you’re looking for. It’s the meta-data.

Fortune, Mar. 7 2008

We’ve got really capable people at Apple. I made Tim [Cook] COO and gave him the Mac division and he’s done brilliantly. I mean, some people say, ‘Oh, God, if [Jobs] got run over by a bus, Apple would be in trouble.’

And, you know, I think it wouldn’t be a party, but there are really capable people at Apple. And the board would have some good choices about who to pick as CEO.

My job is to make the whole executive team good enough to be successors, so that’s what I try to do.

Fortune, Mar. 7 2008

We’ve got 25,000 people at Apple. About 10,000 of them are in the stores. And my job is to work with sort of the top 100 people, that’s what I do. That doesn’t mean they’re all vice presidents.

Some of them are just key individual contributors. So when a good idea comes, you know, part of my job is to move it around, just see what different people think, get people talking about it, argue with people about it, get ideas moving among that group of 100 people, get different people together to explore different aspects of it quietly, and, you know – just explore things.

Fortune, Mar. 7 2008

We do no market research. We don’t hire consultants. The only consultants I’ve ever hired in my 10 years is one firm to analyze Gateway’s retail strategy so I would not make some of the same mistakes they made [when launching Apple’s retail stores].

But we never hire consultants, per se. We just want to make great products.

Fortune, Mar. 7 2008

We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? So this is what we’ve chosen to do with our life. We could be sitting in a monastery somewhere in Japan.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

The whole strategy for Apple now is, if you will, to be the Sony of the computer business.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

when we laid some people off at Apple a year ago, or when I have to take people out of their jobs, it’s harder for me now. Much harder. I do it because that’s my job. But when I look at people when this happens, I also think of them as being 5 years old.

And I think that person could be me coming home to tell my wife and kids that I just got laid off. Or that could be one of my kids in 20 years.

I never took it so personally before. Life is short, and we’re all going to die really soon. It’s true, you know.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

You go to your TV when you want to turn your brain off. You go to your computer when you want to turn your brain on. Those are not the same.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

When I was growing up, a guy across the street had a Volkswagen Bug. He really wanted to make it into a Porsche. He spent all his spare money and time accessorizing this VW, making it look and sound loud. By the time he was done, he did not have a Porsche. He had a loud, ugly VW.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

The only purpose for me in building a company is so that it can make products. Of course, building a very strong company and a foundation of talent and culture is essential over the long run to keep making great products.

On the other hand, to me, the company is one of humanity’s most amazing inventions. It’s totally abstract.

Sure, you have to build something with bricks and mortar to put the people in, but basically a company is this abstract construct we’ve invented, and it’s incredibly powerful.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

My heroes–Dave Packard, for example, left all his money to his foundation; Bob Noyce [the late co-founder of Intel] was another. I’m old enough to have been able to know these guys. I met Andy Grove when I was 21, and I called him and told him I’d heard he was really good at operations and asked if I could take him out to lunch. I did that with others too.

These guys were all company builders, and the gestalt of Silicon Valley at that time made a big impression on me. There are people around here who start companies just to make money, but the great companies, well, that’s not what they’re about.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

I don’t think much about my time of life. I just get up in the morning and it’s a new day. Somebody told me when I was 17 to live each day as if it were my last, and that one day I’d be right.

I am at a stage where I don’t have to do things just to get by. But then I’ve always been that way because I’ve never really cared about money that much. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel the same way now as I felt when I was 17.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

That’s the moment that an artist really decides who he or she is. If they keep on risking failure, they’re still artists. Dylan and Picasso were always risking failure. This Apple thing is that way for me. I don’t want to fail, of course. But even though I didn’t know how bad things really were, I still had a lot to think about before I said yes, and had to consider the implications for Pixar, for my family, for my reputation.

I decided that I didn’t really care, because this is what I want to do. If I try my best and fail, well, I tried my best. What makes you become conservative is realizing that you have something to lose. Remember The Whole Earth Catalog?

The last edition had a photo on the back cover of a remote country road you might find yourself on while hitchhiking up to Oregon. It was a beautiful shot, and it had a caption that really grabbed me. It said: ‘Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’ It wasn’t an ad for anything–just one of Stewart Brand’s profound statements. It’s wisdom. ‘Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

You just are yourself, and you work with other people. If you’re inspiring to other people, it makes an impression on them. For example, I hear people at Disney talking about what it was like to work with Walt.

They loved him. I know that people at Pixar are going to talk about their days with John Lasseter in the same way. Who knows? Maybe someday somebody will feel that way about working with me. I have no idea.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

But I think the things you most regret in life are things you didn’t do. What you really regret was never asking that girl to dance.

In business, if I knew earlier what I know now, I’d have probably done some things a lot better than I did, but I also would’ve probably done some other things a lot worse. But so what? It’s more important to be engaged in the present.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

On vacation recently I was reading this book by [physicist and Nobel laureate] Richard Feynmann. He had cancer, you know. In this book he was describing one of his last operations before he died.

The doctor said to him, ‘Look, Richard, I’m not sure you’re going to make it.’ And Feynmann made the doctor promise that if it became clear he wasn’t going to survive, to take away the anesthetic. Do you know why?

Feynmann said, ‘I want to feel what it’s like to turn off.’ That’s a good way to put yourself in the present–to look at what’s affecting you right now and be curious about it even if it’s bad.

Fortune, Nov. 9 1998

Customers can’t anticipate what the technology can do. They won’t ask for things that they think are impossible.

But the technology may be ahead of them. If you happen to mention something, they’ll say, ‘Of course, I’ll take that. Do you mean I can have that, too?’

It sounds logical to ask customers what they want and then give it to them. But they rarely wind up getting what they really want that way.

Inc, Apr. 1989

You’re asking, where does aesthetic judgment come from? With many things—high-performance automobiles, for example—the aesthetic comes right from the function, and I suppose electronics is no different. But I’ve also found that the best companies pay attention to aesthetics.

They take the extra time to lay out grids and proportion things appropriately, and it seems to pay off for them.

I mean, beyond the functional benefits, the aesthetic communicates something about how they think of themselves, their sense of discipline in engineering, how they run their company, stuff like that.

Inc, Apr. 1989

(about his employees) If they are working in an environment where excellence is expected, then they will do excellent work without anything but self-motivation.

I’m talking about an environment in which excellence is noticed and respected and is in the culture. If you have that, you don’t have to tell people to do excellent work. They understand it from their surroundings.

Inc, Apr. 1989

The culture at NeXT definitely rewards independent thought, and we often have constructive disagreements—at all levels. It doesn’t take a new person long to see that people feel fine about openly disagreeing with me. That doesn’t mean I can’t disagree with them, but it does mean that the best ideas win. Our attitude is that we want the best. Don’t get hung up on who owns the idea. Pick the best one, and let’s go.

Inc, Apr. 1989

Somebody once told me, ‘Manage the top line, and the bottom line will follow.’ What’s the top line? It’s things like, why are we doing this in the first place? What’s our strategy? What are customers saying? How responsive are we? Do we have the best products and the best people? Those are the kind of questions you have to focus on.

Inc, Apr. 1989

I think the same philosophy that drives the product has to drive everything else if you want to have a great company. Manufacturing, for example, […] demands just as much thought and strategy as the product. If you don’t pay attention to your manufacturing, it will limit the kind of product you can build and engineer.

Some companies view manufacturing as a necessary evil, and some view it as something more neutral. But we view it instead as a tremendous opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. [I’ve thought that] ever since I visited Japan in the early ’80s. And let me add that the same is true of sales and marketing.

You need a sales and marketing organization that is oriented toward educating customers rather than just taking orders, providing a real service rather than moving boxes. This is extremely important.

Inc, Apr. 1989

We had a fundamental belief that doing it right the first time was going to be easier than having to go back and fix it. And I cannot say strongly enough that the repercussions of that attitude are staggering. I’ve seen them again and again throughout my business life.

Inc, Apr. 1989

You just make the best product you can, and you don’t put it out until you feel it’s right.

But no matter what you think intellectually, your heart is beating pretty fast right before people see what you’ve produced.

NBC Nightly News, May 2006

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.

Newsweek, Fall 1984

Well, I don’t know what this Valley is. I work at Apple. I’m there so many hours a day and I don’t visit other places; I’m not an expert on Silicon Valley.

What I do see is a small group of people who are artists and care more about their art than they do about almost anything else. It’s more important than finding a girlfriend, it’s more important… than cooking a meal, it’s more important than joining the Marines, it’s more important than whatever. Look at the way artists work.

They’re not typically the most ‘balanced’ people in the world. Now, yes, we have a few workaholics here who are trying to escape other things, of course.

But the majority of people out here have made very conscious decisions; they really have.

Newsweek, Fall 1984

I’m just a guy who probably should have been a semi-talented poet on the Left Bank. I sort of got sidetracked here.

Newsweek, Fall 1984

(on whether he thinks it’s unfair calling people in Silicon Valley ‘nerds’) Of course. I think it’s an antiquated notion. There were people in the ’60s who were like that and even in the early ’70s, but now they’re not that way.

Now they’re the people who would have been poets had they lived in the ’60s.

And they’re looking at computers as their medium of expression rather than language, rather than being a mathematician and using mathematics, rather than, you know, writing social theories.

Newsweek, Fall 1984

Even though some people have come out with neat products, if their company is perceived as a sweatshop or a revolving door, it’s not considered much of a success. Remember, the role models were Hewlett and Packard. Their main achievement was that they built a company.

Nobody remembers their first frequency-counter, their first audio oscillator, their first this or that. And they sell so many products now that no one person really symbolizes the company.

[…] And they built a company and they lived that philosophy for 35 or 40 years and that’s why they’re heroes. Hewlett and Packard started what became the Valley.

Newsweek, Fall 1984

See, one of the things you have to remember is that we started off with a very idealistic perspective—that doing something with the highest quality, doing it right the first time, would really be cheaper than having to go back and do it again. Ideas like that.

Newsweek, Fall 1984

I’ve always thought it would be really wonderful to have a little box, a sort of slate that you could carry along with you.

Newsweek, Fall 1984

(about the iPod) It’s as Apple as anything Apple has ever done.

Newsweek, Fall 1984

There are lots of examples where not the best product wins. Windows would be one of those, but there are examples where the best product wins. And the iPod is a great example of that.

Newsweek, Jul. 25 2004

I have a very simple life. I have my family and I have Apple and Pixar. And I don’t do much else.

Newsweek, Jul. 25 2004

When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there.

But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can oftentimes arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.

Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there. We believe that customers are smart, and want objects which are well thought through.

Newsweek, Oct. 16 2006

I was very lucky to grow up in a time when music really mattered. It wasn’t just something in the background; it really mattered to a generation of kids growing up. It really changed the world.

I think that music faded in importance for a while, and the iPod has helped to bring music back into people’s lives in a really meaningful way. Music is so deep within all of us, but it’s easy to go for a day or a week or a month or a year without really listening to music.

And the iPod has changed that for tens of millions of people, and that makes me really happy, because I think music is good for the soul.

Newsweek, Sep. 29 1985

So if Apple just becomes a place where computers are a commodity item and where the romance is gone, and where people forget that computers are the most incredible invention that man has ever invented, then I’ll feel I have lost Apple.

But if I’m a million miles away and all those people still feel those things and they’re still working to make the next great personal computer, then I will feel that my genes are still in there.

Newsweek, Sep. 29 1985

If I look at myself and ask, ‘What am I best at and what do I enjoy most doing?’ I think what I’m best at is creating sort of new innovative products.

Newsweek, Sep. 29 1985

It probably is true that the people who have been able to come up with the innovations in many industries are maybe not the people that either are best skilled at, or, frankly, enjoy running a large enterprise where they lose contact with the day-to-day workings of that innovative process. Dr. Land at Polaroid, he’s a perfect example.

Newsweek, Sep. 29 1985

What I’m best at doing is finding a group of talented people and making things with them. I respect the direction that Apple is going in. But for me personally, you know, I want to make things. And if there’s no place for me to make things there, then I’ll do what I did twice before.

Newsweek, Sep. 29 1985

And so I haven’t got any sort of odd chip on my shoulder about proving anything to myself or anybody else. And remember, though the outside world looks at success from a numerical point of view, my yardstick might be quite different than that. My yardstick may be how every computer that’s designed from here on out will have to be at least as good as a Macintosh.

Newsweek, Sep. 29 1985

Apple was about as pure of a Silicon Valley company as you could imagine. We started in a garage. Woz and I both grew up in Silicon Valley. Our role model was Hewlett-Packard. And so I guess that’s what we went into it thinking. Hewlett-Packard, you know, Jobs and Wozniak.

Newsweek, Sep. 29 1985

I don’t think that my role in life is to run big organizations and do incremental improvements.

Newsweek, Sep. 29 1985

I’m not a 62-year-old statesman that’s traveled around the world all his life. So I’m sure that there was a situation when I was 25 that if I could go back, knowing what I know now, I could have handled much better.

And I’m sure I’ll be able to say the same thing when I’m 35 about the situation in 1985. I can be very intense in my convictions.

And I don’t know; all in all, I kind of like myself and I’m not that anxious to change.

Newsweek, Sep. 29 1985

You know, my philosophy is—it’s always been very simple. And it has its flaws, which I’ll go into. My philosophy is that everything starts with a great product. So, you know, I obviously believed in listening to customers, but customers can’t tell you about the next breakthrough that’s going to happen next year that’s going to change the whole industry.

So you have to listen very carefully. But then you have to go and sort of stow away—you have to go hide away with people that really understand the technology, but also really care about the customers, and dream up this next breakthrough.

And that’s my perspective, that everything starts with a great product. And that has its flaws.

I have certainly been accused of not listening to the customers enough. And I think there is probably a certain amount of that that’s valid.

Newsweek, Sep. 29 1985

I had hoped that my life would take on the quality of an interesting tapestry where I would have weaved in and out of Apple: I would have been there a period of time, and maybe I would have gone off and done something else to contribute, but connected with Apple, and then maybe come back and stay for a lengthy time period and then go off and do something else.

But it’s just not going to work out that way. So I had 10 of the best years of my life, you know. And I don’t regret much of anything.

 

h/t: All About Steve Jobs

Author: James Beattie

Comments

comments