Saturday, October 8, 2011

Getting to know Steve Jobs

I’ve been spending the last few days trying to learn more  about Steve Jobs. NOT what Steve Jobs invented but who Steve Jobs really was.

Almost every article I’ve read talks about Steve Jobs’ genius mind. I’m not very high tech and I live a very frugal lifestyle which doesn’t allow for a lot of high tech gadgetry, anyway.  So I can’t relate very well to all the talk of how Steve Jobs changed the world.

What I’ve been searching for is some evidence of who Steve Jobs was inside.  The heart and soul of Steve Jobs.

Why did I feel compelled to do this? I guess because I wanted to humanize him. To make him more than his inventions and his ideas.

Jobs was well known for being very secretive about his personal life, so it was difficult to find out much about him other than his business life.  But I did uncover some things about him that I could really relate to. I found some of his personal philosophies very inspiring. Some of them similar to the ideals I try to live by in my own life. So I wanted to share them with you.

1)      He was born the same year I was, 1955. He grew up in the same generation, listening to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan and the Beatles. It is rumored that he dated Baez briefly and that the Beatles were some of his idols.

2)      He realized the value of teamwork and co-creating with others. When asked about his business model on 60 Minutes, he replied: “My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other's negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by a team of people.”

3)      He was grateful. He didn’t take his good fortune for granted. “ I love my life. I really do. I've got the greatest family in the world, and I've got my work. And that's pretty much all I do. I don't socialize much or go to conferences. I love my family, and I love running Apple, and I love Pixar. And I get to do that. I'm very lucky."

4)      He liked to walk barefoot.

5)      He always followed his heart. He dropped out of the courses that didn’t interest him in college and took  things that he found more interesting. “Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.” It was these calligraphy classes that helped him to later design “the first computer with beautiful typography.”

6)      Jobs didn’t adopt someone else’s religion, but went on his own spiritual quests. He  traveled to India in the 70’s to visit a well-known ashram in search of spiritual enlightenment. He came back a Buddhist with his head shaved and wearing traditional Indian clothing.

7)      He knew love was more important than money:  Even though he was well-known for being a workaholic, he skipped a meeting to take Laurene on their first date: "I was in the parking lot with the key in the car, and I thought to myself, 'If this is my last night on earth, would I rather spend it at a business meeting or with this woman?' I ran across the parking lot, asked her if she'd have dinner with me. She said yes, we walked into town and we've been together ever since."

8)      He was a romantic: In 1991, Jobs and Powell were married in the Ahwahnee Hotel at Yosemite National Park, and the marriage was officiated by Kobin Chino, a Zen Buddhist monk.

9)      He lived a healthy  lifestyle: Jobs believed in Eastern medicine.  He sought to treat his own cancer through alternative approaches and specialized diets before reluctantly seeking his first surgery for a cancerous tumor in 2004. He was a vegetarian since his teenage years. He didn’t consume most animal products, and didn't eat meat other than fish.

10) He didn’t dress to please other people. I don’t give a sh*t what I look like,” Steve once confided to friends. This is why he was always seen in his Levi’s blue jeans and black mock turtleneck, even for public occasions. He often declared that his rationale was “to save him some time in the morning, not having to decide what to wear.”

11) With all his money, he lived a humble lifestyle, in a modest home with a nice garden. A Times journalist described Jobs home this way:  “Laurene has planted a garden of wildflowers, herbs and vegetables all around. The rooms are sparsely decorated, the only extravagances being Ansel Adams photographs.”

Here are some Steve Jobs quotes I found that I found particularly inspiring.
  • “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 other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
  • “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
  • “I want to put a ding in the universe.”
  • “Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.”
  • “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.”
  • “You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.”
  • “There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
A CBS poll taken in 2010 concluded that 69 percent of Americans didn't know enough about Jobs to have an opinion about him. I can honestly say that I do know enough about him to form an opinion now. Steve Jobs was a pretty incredible guy.

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