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What Made Steve Jobs Stand out From Rest of the Entrepreneurs

What Made Steve Jobs Stand out From Rest of the Entrepreneurs

There is a reason Steve Jobs is a legend and icon in the world of business, tech and entrepreneurship. He built some of the most revolutionary businesses of our time like Pixar film, NeXT and the world’s most valuable company—Apple Inc. And he did all this without having the most resources initially (Jobs cofounded Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976), the most connections or even the most smarts.

So how did he do it?

Jobs had a set of personality traits and success habits that stood out, propelled him forward and ultimately helped him achieve unbelievable success in his career. While you are your own person, and your business journey won’t be the same as his, assuredly you can learn a thing or two about Jobs’ revolutionary ways of building great companies.

Jobs’ unique qualities, including rough edges in his personality, set him apart from other entrepreneurs. His standout qualities are worth noting because they were integral to his success.

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1. Jobs had audacious self-belief and imagination.

Many entrepreneurs envision building a company that grows and takes a sizable market share from competitors. And that’s a great vision. However, Steve Jobs went further than that. He not only envisioned his company taking market share from competitors, but also his company’s products and services revolutionizing the way people work, communicate and live their lives. He was such a strong believer that he built Apple’s products and services under the assumption they would change the world.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

—Apple’s 1997 ‘Think Different’ commercial

2. Jobs had unwavering focus on products over profits.

While many entrepreneurs today focus more on making their business as profitable as possible, Jobs focused more on creating great products and services. His laser-like focus on products before profits had been honed by his Zen training and was ingrained in his personality—so much so that family members, friends and colleagues would at times be exasperated as they tried to get him to deal with other issues, such as a medical diagnosis or a legal problem they considered important.

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Jobs never spoke of profit maximization or cost trade-offs. “Don’t worry about price,” he told the original team charged with designing the original Macintosh, in the early 1980s, “just specify the computer’s abilities.” His injunction was simple and clear: make it “insanely great.” Jobs didn’t care about the money. He cared about the quality of his products.

3. Jobs had unrelenting fervor for perfect design.

Jobs focused on design and became a master in the concept of innovative and interactive design. He insisted that his company’s designs be absolutely perfect. It was his belief that design is critical to developing next-generation products that people love. And so he pushed his company and employees to the limits—amazingly without going over the edge.

Walter Isaacson, the author of the biography of Steve Jobs, reports having asked Jobs about the Apple CEO’s tendency to be rough on people. “Look at the results,” Jobs replied. “These are all smart people I work with, and any of them could get a top job at another place if they were truly feeling brutalized. But they don’t.” Then he paused for a few seconds and, almost wistfully, said: “And we got some amazing things done.”

Jobs unrelenting fervor for perfect design was central to how he built his businesses. This zeal evolved into Apple’s competitive advantage over competitors and morphed into the company’s distinct brand.

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4. Jobs had deep love for simplicity and a flair for the elegant.

Leonardo da Vinci famously said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Nobody in the tech world took this quote as seriously as Jobs did, it would appear. Jobs learned to admire simplicity when working the night shift at Atari game company as a college dropout. Atari’s games came with no manual and were designed to be so uncomplicated that a “stoned freshman could figure them out.” The only instructions for its Star Trek game, for example, were: “1. Insert quarter. 2. Avoid Klingons.”

Jobs appreciation of simplicity in design grew deeper after attending design conferences at the Aspen Institute in the late 1970s, which highlighted the value of functional design devoid of frills or distractions. So when Jobs was shown a cluttered set of proposed navigation screens for iDVD, which allowed users to burn video onto a disk, he felt compelled to simplify. Jobs promptly stood up, writes Isaacson, and drew a simple rectangle on a whiteboard. “Here’s the new application,” he said. “It’s got one window. You drag your video into the window. Then you click the button that says ‘Burn.’ That’s it. That’s what we’re going to make.”

Jobs aimed for the simplicity that comes from conquering, rather than merely ignoring complexity. “It takes a lot of hard work,” he said, “to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.”

5. Jobs was extremely passionate and fearless when it came to expanding and growing Apple.

In looking for opportunities to exploit and industries ripe for disruption, Jobs was passionate and fearless. Many of his actions and attempts to grow Apple and its products were controversial and at times risked the future of the company. It was this fearless, risky, go-getter attitude that got him fired from Apple, a company he’d founded, and then got him re-hired when the company began to struggle after he’d left.

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Jobs always inquired who was making products that were more complicated than they should be. In 2001, portable music players and viable ways to acquire songs online fit that description, leading to the iPod and the iTunes Store. Mobile phones were next. Jobs would grab a phone at a meeting and emotionally rant that nobody could possibly figure out how to navigate half the features, including the address book. Then he’d push the people working with him for a simplified, more robust smart phone.

If you were an existing customer or a potential one, he made you understand why you had to have Apple’s products or services. He was the ultimate salesperson, as well as a true customer advocate. What a rare combination of attributes for an entrepreneur to possess.

Featured photo credit: Dan Farber via flickr.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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