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This Is How Steve Jobs Started and Changed the World

This Is How Steve Jobs Started and Changed the World

For years, Steve Jobs had a larger-than-life impact on the world of technology, design, music and other fields. Unlike some modern technology entrepreneurs, Steve Jobs took an unusual path to business success. Let’s consider some of the highlights of his story. For a more in-depth introduction to Jobs, I highly recommend reading “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. I am currently reading the book and have found it highly engaging (it is also my main source for this article).

Before Apple

In some ways, Jobs started in the right place and time to take best advantage of the digital revolution. Following his adoption by Paul Jobs and Clara Jobs, Steve Jobs grew up in Mountain View. In addition to gaining an appreciation of craftsmanship from his father, Jobs had countless experiences with HP engineers and others who resided in California at that time.

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Jobs had an open mind about new ideas and a willingness to bring ideas together in unusual ways. At times, his experimental outlook frustrated those around him (e.g. his ever-changing and usually very strict diets). However, this approach also shaped his view of products. During his studies at Reed College and beyond, Jobs learned about calligraphy, Eastern religion, design and many other topics. Even though Jobs dropped out of college, he continued seeking out teachers (e.g. his 1974 trip to India) and mentors to help him grow his skills.

During the 1970s, Jobs was one of many people in California interested in designing new technology. While his Jobs’s partner and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had expertise in engineering, Jobs understood the importance of building a consumer-friendly product. According to Walter Isaacson’s biography, Jobs was keen to build an integrated computer. This consumer-use focus continues to set Apple products apart from other products (e.g. the 1975 Altair device which Isaacson describes as: “just a $495 pile of parts that had to be soldered to a board that would then do little”, pg 59)

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The Early Apple Years

Following some early success with building and selling electronics (e.g. the Blue Box  which made it possible to make free phone calls), Jobs and Wozniak began building computers. In 1975, Jobs presented the first computer to a group of technology hobbyists. It did not go well. As Isaacson puts it: “The audience was not very impressed. The Apple had a cut-rate microprocessor,” (pg 66) when Jobs presented an early computer to the Homebrew Computer Club. That early experience may be one of the reasons that Jobs became skeptical about market research and surveying potential customers.

Fortunately for us, Jobs was determined to sell his product and soon found customers. By the early 1980s, Apple Computer was a growing company. The Apple II computer was starting to sell well. During the 1980s, Jobs’s record was mixed. On the one hand, he was known for his outstanding dedication to product quality and often demanded improvements. Unfortunately, Jobs’s approach to work generated enemies. His erratic approach to work and dedication were major sources of project conflict in building and launching new products.

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Looking back on his early years and return to Apple, Jobs’s excitement for technology changed the world. Apple computers have rightly earned recognition for excellence. The company’s reputation for outstanding design is one of his lasting legacies. In 2015, the newly released Apple Watch has won the 2015 iF Design Awards.

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Steve Jobs Infographic by Anna Vital

    Featured photo credit: How Steve Jobs Started: The Life of Apple’s Founder/Anna Vital via s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

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    Bruce Harpham

    Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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