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10 Things We Can Learn From Steve Jobs

10 Things We Can Learn From Steve Jobs

“There will never be another Steve Jobs. We can’t be the special person he was. We are who we are and just have to appreciate how great he was.” — Larry Ellison

When we examine how great Steve Jobs was, we are able to gain a lot of insights which provide us with invaluable life lessons. Here are 10 useful lessons we can learn from Steve Jobs (1955-2011).

1. Love what you do

Steve Jobs loved what he did with a passion. Even after he was fired from Apple in the early years, he realized that this was what he really wanted to do in life. We too should not deflect from our path — our persistence will pay off.

“What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating, I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. And so I decided to start over.” — Steve Jobs

2. Cut out or avoid the bozos

Bozos are incompetent, stupid, and negative people. Steve Jobs had no time for these people and got rid of them when he could. They are like weeds and they will also hire like-minded people. They will have a negative impact on morale. Even if you are unable to fire them, you can make strenuous efforts to have as little to do with them as possible. Surround yourself with positive and upbeat colleagues who will inspire you.

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3. Surround yourself with culture to be more creative

Steve Jobs set a great example here. The best way to be creative is to surround yourself with culture, art, and history. Enriching his life with cultural influences was an essential element in helping his passion for design to flourish. Apple products are the perfect example. Serendipity and connecting the dots may be more important than we think.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” — Steve Jobs

4. Don’t be afraid to take risks

Steve jobs knew that by developing the iPhone, he was going to make the iPod obsolete. He knew that it was a risk but he also knew that the mobile market was very lucrative and he wanted a slice of that. Being brave and going against the tide are all part of taking risks. The lesson taught by Jobs was that other people’s opinions and “rules” must never thwart our plans.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” — Steve Jobs

5. Qualifications are not everything

Steve Jobs never actually graduated from college. He discovered and taught us that what really counts is to have a positive mindset and how you nurture your skills. Paper qualifications are important, but they must always take second place in developing our skills.

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“Truth be told, I never graduated from college. And this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation.” – Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address in 2005

6. Keep it simple

When the engineers were developing the iPod, Jobs insisted that there should be no buttons at all and that the only button would be the on/off one. The engineers were skeptical to say the least, but Jobs would not relent. Keeping the whole operation simple was essential to this and many other projects. In the end, the scroll wheel was developed and is still a feature of IT today. We can learn from Steve Jobs that laser focus can sharpen our minds and help us to prioritize.

“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.” — Steve Jobs

7. Money need not dictate your projects

Jobs wanted to change the world and put a “ding in the universe,” as he himself put it. His projects were all designed to create amazing products to make the world a better place. Making money was not his primary aim. Here is a very valuable life lesson. If we focus on making profit without worrying too much about giving value or in helping society, then perhaps we should rethink our objectives.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me… Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” — Steve Jobs

8. Learn to be bold

At the age of 12, Steve Jobs telephoned Hewlett Packard to get some spare parts he needed for a project he was working on. As a result of that telephone call, HP gave him a summer job and he never looked back. The lesson we can learn here is to always try, even if we are turned down.

“If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.” – Nora Roberts

 9. Question everything

Steve Jobs often told interviewers that he had always questioned everything. For example, he questioned his religious beliefs when he saw starving children. He advised people to question rules and assumptions. This questioning was the foundation for many of his most creative ideas. That should be an inspiration for us when we examine how we live and work. If we continuously question why something is always done in a certain way, we are well on the way to success.

Steve Jobs questioned everything about the building of his yacht Venus, which was to be sleek and minimalist and cost $138 million. The owner of the Dutch shipyard where it was built, Henk de Vries, said that Jobs was always telling them that they could do better!

“Everything was questioned and that made it very challenging,” — Henk de Vries

10. Technology can change the world for the better

Apparently, Steve Jobs as a kid was struck by an article which listed the most efficient species with regards speed and locomotion. He noticed that the condor was in the first place while human beings were way down the list. Put a human being on a bicycle and that combination shot to the top of the list, way ahead of the condor. Jobs later used this in an ad for Apple when he called his computer the bicycle of the mind. That sort of smart technology is the way to change the world for the better.

Steve Jobs was an inspiring example we need to follow.

Featured photo credit: Nice Gift/ Jan- Willem Reusink via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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