Make something wonderful

A few weeks ago, a compilation of Steve Jobs quotes was released, including bits and pieces from interviews, emails, and other conversations. The book is called “Make Something Wonderful” and is available as a free download.

He’s always been one for words, and I couldn’t help but start to collect some of my favorites from the book.

“I’ve had a chance to make a lot of mistakes. Your aesthetics get better as you make mistakes. But the real big thing is: if you’re going to make something, it doesn’t take any more energy—and rarely does it take more money—to make it really great. All it takes is a little more time. Not that much more. And a willingness to do so, a willingness to persevere until it’s really great.”

“So fortunately, in the 1870s, Alexander Graham Bell filed the patents for the telephone—another radical breakthrough in communications that performed basically the same function, but people already knew how to use it. The neatest thing about it was that, in addition to allowing you to communicate with just words, it allowed you to sing. It allowed you to intone your words with meaning beyond the simple linguistics.

We’re in the same exact parallel situation today. Some people are saying we need to put an IBM PC on every desk in America to improve productivity. But it won’t work. The special incantations you have to learn this time are slash-qz’s and things like that. Most people are not going to learn slash-qz’s any more than they’re going to learn Morse code.
And that’s what Macintosh is all about. It’s the first “telephone” of our industry. But the neatest thing about it to me is, the same as the telephone to the telegraph, Macintosh lets you sing. It lets you use special fonts. It lets you make drawings and pictures or incorporate other people’s drawings or pictures into your documents.”

“Think of your life as a rainbow arcing across the horizon of this world. You appear, have a chance to blaze in the sky, then you disappear.”

“All these technology boxes and all this software: it has a life of a year or two, if you’re very lucky. If it has a life of five years, it’s extraordinary. And every once in a while, something has a life of ten to fifteen years—and I’ve been lucky to be associated with a few of those products as well. But sooner or later, they all become part of the sedimentary layer that is the foundation for new innovation.”

“You’d better have great people, or you won’t get your product to market as fast as possible. Or you might get a product to market really fast, but it will be really clunky and nobody will buy it. There are no shortcuts around quality, and quality starts with people.”

“What I look for is for someone to come right back and say, “You’re dead wrong and here’s why.” I want to see what people are like under pressure. I want to see if they just fold or if they have firm conviction, belief, and pride in what they did. It’s also good every once in a while to really piss somebody off in an interview to see how they react because, if your company is a meritocracy of ideas, with passionate people, you have a company with a lot of arguments. If people can’t stand up and argue well under pressure, they may not do well in such an environment. “

“And … I have to be careful what I say here. Let me just say that you need a license to drive a car, but you don’t need a license to be the CEO of a company. And maybe you should need one.”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle”

Steve Jobs said this was his favorite quote

“When you get into your fifties—I’m forty-eight, I’m kind of there, pretty much—you’re not grabbing the pencil out of the twenty-five-year-old’s hand to do it better than they are. If you’re smart, you’re hiring twenty-five-year-olds who are smarter than you. You know things that they don’t know, and they know things that you don’t know, and it all works.”

“And what I found is that nobody in their right mind wants to be a manager. [Audience laughs.] It’s true. It’s a lot of work, and you don’t get to do the fun stuff. But the only good reason to be a manager is so some other bozo doesn’t be the manager—and ruin the group you care about.”

“And a really smart guy I met a long time ago who used to teach at Disney University—Walt Disney recruited him to run Disney University, actually—he told me about his point of view, which I’ve remembered to this day. He called it management by values. What that means is you find people that want the same things you want, and then just get the hell out of their way.”

“You can’t plan to meet the people who will change your life. It just happens. Maybe its random, maybe its fate. Either way, you can’t plan for it. But you want to recognize it when it happens, and have the courage and clarity of mind to grab onto it.”

“I remember talking to Woz, and saying: “We may fail, but we have no responsibility now, no wives, no kids, no house payments, nothing. If we don’t do this now, we never will. We have nothing to lose – the worst we’ll get out of this is that we’ll have the memories of having gone for it.” To give ourselves the experience of participating in what Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard did– to start a company. So rather than invest in better cars, or better apartments, or our bank accounts, we decided to invest in ourselves.

“Sometime life’s gonna hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

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