Steve Jobs 10 Last advices

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Written right before he died.

In his own words:

  1. ON BUILDING A REAL COMPANY:

I hate it when people call themselves “entrepreneurs” when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on.

They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business.

That’s how you really make a contribution and add to the legacy of those who went before.

You build a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now.

That’s what Walt Disney did, and Hewlett and Packard, and the people who built Intel.

They created a company to last, not just to make money.

That’s what I want Apple to be.

  1. ON TASTE OVER MARKET RESEARCH:

Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach.

Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.

Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'"

People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

That’s why I never rely on market research.

Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.

  1. ON COMBINING IDEAS FROM DIFFERENT FIELDS:

Edwin Land of Polaroid talked about the intersection of the humanities and science.

I like that intersection.

There’s something magical about that place.

There are a lot of people innovating, and that’s not the main distinction of my career.

The reason Apple resonates with people is that there’s a deep current of humanity in our innovation.

I think great artists and great engineers are similar, in that they both have a desire to express themselves.

In fact some of the best people working on the original Mac were poets and musicians on the side.

In the seventies computers became a way for people to express their creativity.

Great artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were also great at science.

Michelangelo knew a lot about how to quarry stone, not just how to be a sculptor.

  1. ON KNOWING WHY YOUR CUSTOMERS PAY YOU:

People pay us to integrate things for them, because they don’t have the time to think about this stuff 24/7.

If you have an extreme passion for producing great products, it pushes you to be integrated, to connect your hardware and your software and content management.

You want to break new ground, so you have to do it yourself.

  1. ON WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SHIFT THE FOCUS FROM GREAT PRODUCTS TO MORE SALES:

I have my own theory about why decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft.

The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important.

The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers.

So the salespeople end up running the company.

John Akers at IBM was a smart, eloquent, fantastic salesperson, but he didn’t know anything about product.

The same thing happened at Xerox.

When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off.

  1. ON GREAT PRODUCTS BEING THE FOUNDATION OF AN ENDURING COMPANY:

My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products.

Everything else was secondary.

Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products.

But the products, not the profits, were the motivation.

Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money.

It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything: the people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings.

  1. ON BEING HONEST AND DIRECT WITH YOUR TEAM:

I don’t think I run roughshod over people, but if something sucks, I tell people to their face.

It’s my job to be honest.

I know what I’m talking about, and I usually turn out to be right.

That’s the culture I tried to create.

We are brutally honest with each other, and anyone can tell me they think I am full of shit and I can tell them the same.

And we’ve had some rip-roaring arguments, where we are yelling at each other, and it’s some of the best times I’ve ever had.

I feel totally comfortable saying “Ron, that store looks like shit” in front of everyone else.

Or I might say “God, we really fucked up the engineering on this” in front of the person that’s responsible.

That’s the ante for being in the room: You’ve got to be able to be super honest.

  1. ON KEEPING THE TEAM EXCELLENT

I was hard on people sometimes, probably harder than I needed to be.

I remember the time when Reed (his son) was six years old, coming home, and I had just fired somebody that day, and I imagined what it was like for that person to tell his family and his young son that he had lost his job.

It was hard.

But somebody’s got to do it.

I figured that it was always my job to make sure that the team was excellent, and if I didn’t do it, nobody was going to do it.

  1. ON TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE GREAT WORK THAT WAS CREATED BEFORE YOU:

What drove me?

I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done by others before us.

I didn’t invent the language or mathematics I use.

I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes.

Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on.

And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow.

It’s about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know how.

We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow.

That’s what has driven me.

  1. ON CONSTANT REFINEMENT AND PERPETUAL MOTION:

You always have to keep pushing to innovate.

Dylan could have sung protest songs forever and probably made a lot of money, but he didn’t.

He had to move on, and when he did, by going electric in 1965, he alienated a lot of people.

His 1966 Europe tour was his greatest. He would come on and do a set of acoustic guitar, and the audiences loved him.

Then he brought out what became The Band, and they would all do an electric set, and the audience sometimes booed.

There was one point where he was about to sing “Like a Rolling Stone” and someone from the audience yells “Judas!”

And Dylan then says, “Play it fucking loud!”

And they did. The Beatles were the same way.

They kept evolving, moving, refining their art.

That’s what I’ve always tried to do—keep moving. Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.