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This Is How Steve Jobs Started and Changed the World

This Is How Steve Jobs Started and Changed the World
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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 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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