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21 Life Lessons from Steve Jobs

By:     Topics: Entrepreneurship

Steve Jobs will be remembered as a digital visionary — the man who brought poetry to the microchip.

But before he was a legend, he was a person.

We can’t all be Steve Jobs, but we can all learn from his extraordinary life.

#1 Skate to Where the Puck is Going to Be

In 2007, Steve Jobs said, “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very, very beginning. And we always will.”

Steve’s ability to anticipate future trends helped Apple dominate now-burgeoning markets like digital music sales (through the iPod and iTunes Store).

#2 Accentuate the Positive

Steve started life out on the wrong foot. He was given up for adoption at birth.

Tough break? Young Jobs didn’t think so: he was thankful for his loving adoptive parents — who happened to live in Palo Alto, California (which would eventually become Silicon Valley).

#3 Learn from Others

In high school, Jobs attended lectures at a small computer technology company called Hewlett-Packard. Before turning 21, Steve had worked for both HP and Atari. He saw what these companies were doing and learned what he wanted to do differently with Apple.

#4 Start Early

Because Steve was still a sponge-brained teenager when he started working with computers, he learned quickly.

It also helps that he started Apple in his early 20’s: when he was still full of energy, fresh ideas, and not yet restrained by a family or career.

#5 College is Important…

At its best, higher education challenges us to make connections and solve problems.

Jobs credits a college calligraphy course for part of the Macintosh’s development:

“If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”

#6 …But it’s Not Necessary

Reed University was expensive and Jobs didn’t want to drain his parents’ savings. If Jobs hadn’t dropped out, he would have been a junior in 1975. He co-founded Apple Computer that year instead.

Steve Jobs Traveled to India

#7 Travel the World

The year before he founded Apple, Jobs journeyed to India. Travel has a way of broadening a person’s perspective and expanding their sense of what’s possible – good traits in an entrepreneur.

#8 Surround Yourself with Good People

Steve Jobs wasn’t a great computer engineer. Apple would have had no chance if Jobs was the only one building the computers. That’s why he recruited Steve Wozniak.

Through the years, Jobs’ companies have blossomed thanks to the brilliant people he’s brought on board – like Apple CEO Tim Cook and Pixar CCO (Chief Creative Officer) John Lasseter.

#9 Expect Greatness

People tend to rise to expectations.

#10 Fake it Before You Make it

In Apple’s early days, Steve recognized that Palo Alto, California was the epicenter of innovative computer technology. Steve wanted his company to be associated with this place – but Apple was still headquartered out of a garage in nearby Los Altos.

Jobs’ solution was to set up a PO Box in Palo Alto and hire a voice answering service. A potential client would get the impression that Apple was a big company in the heart of Silicon Valley – even though the truth was that it was still just two sweaty guys in a garage across town.

#11 Obstacles are meant to be Overcome

Jobs and Wozniak ran out of money while developing the first Apple computer. Instead of giving in, Jobs sold his van and Wozniak sold his graphing calculator. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

#12 Don’t Value Money

As CEO of Apple, Jobs earned $1 a year. Jobs wasn’t incentivized by his salary, but by his own unrelenting pursuit of excellence. (Then again, his expansive stock holdings may have been some incentive.)

#13 Value People

Jobs hired passionate people and cultivated exceptional company cultures at both Apple and Pixar – and their work speaks for itself.

#14 Take Risks

Jobs was willing to cannibalize his company’s products in the name of progress. Many CEOs would have been hesitant to develop the iPhone, knowing full well that it would help to make the iPod obsolete – but Jobs did it anyway (and took a big bite out of the lucrative mobile market).

Steve Jobs' turtleneck is a big part of his personal brand

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Especially smart ones.

#15 Create a Personal Brand

Steve Jobs was one of the first people to recognize the growing importance of personal brands in the Internet age. His black turtleneck is as instantly recognizable as the Apple logo.

#16 Have a Higher Purpose

Buddha said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

Jobs has turned his vision into reality since he began practicing Buddhism in the 1970’s.

#17 Find the Right Partner

There is no more important decision in your life than the person you decide to share it with. Choose wisely (as Steve did), and you have a partner who will help see you through daily challenges.

#18 Jobs Fails Forward

#18 Fail Forward

Everybody fails. It’s how you respond to those failures that makes all the difference. In 1984, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple.

At Stanford’s 2005 commencement address, he had this to say about it:

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

#19 Learn How to Take a Brick to the Head

More inspiring words from the Stanford speech:

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. 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.”

#20 Remember You’ll be Dead Soon

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Our time on this earth is short. Let’s make it count.

#21 Put a Dent in the Universe

Jobs once said, “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why else even be here?”

Having a higher purpose doesn’t just help you find success. It redefines the meaning of the word.

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I’ll let Jobs have the last word:

“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.”

How has the life of Steve Jobs inspired you? Let us know in the comment section below.


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  • Salvador

    Amazing list Nick! The man was truly inspirational to everyone. Steve Jobs will definitely be remembered as a digital visionary and a man who changed the world. Thank you for this list!

    • Nick Scheidies

      Thanks for the response, Salvador!

  • Randy Schrum

    This is a great video overview. When I think of Steve Jobs, I think of someone who never quit on innovation. This is really motivating for me as I work everyday to innovate for my own business.

    -Thanks for the video and post and thank you Steve Jobs.


  • Fisayo @ Iroyin

    Great post! Steve Jobs is my Hero! I’ve learnt alot from him about not giving up dreams and focusing on improving your innovations even after you tried and made mistakes. I’ll always remember him.
    RIP S.J

  • Bloggers Tips

    A list of lessons that we all need to read more often !

    I particulary love the “#14 Take Risks”, it’s the best way to move forward in life.

  • Sadie-Michaela Harris

    Great insights from a great man;- making this a great share!

  • Larry Gamboa

    Hi Nick,
    Well said. My favorite quote of Steves by Seth Godin is “Real Artists Ship.” It’s in Linchpin. And it speaks worlds to me. Entrepreneurs are Artists. Steve proves it. And like Steve, we, each of us must learn to Ship our creations.

  • Clifford Enoc

    SJ is indeed a visionary and thanks to the 21 great life lessons to learn from him.

  • Brendan | MMA Training

    RIP Steve.

    He really was a true visionary!

  • Jose

    Wonderful to know these facts of a successful man …

  • Trish Jones

    Nice one Nick. Love the way you put this together – very inspiring. And in terms of Steve’s adoption, it speaks volumes about purpose and positioning. Steve Jobs took responsibility for his future and didn’t allow rejection to become his director.


    • Agnes

      Well Said, Trish

  • Himanshu

    Thanks for sharing man. Today it was really the worst day for technology. Innovation is something we should learn from Apple and Steve. The quotes reflects his working in a great manner.

  • Trish Jones

    Nice one Nick. The way you put this together is very inspiring and regarding Steve Jobs adoption, it speaks volumes about purpose and positioning. Steve could have let rejection be the director of his future but he didn’t.


  • Mario

    Great post,

    It is still hard to believe that Steve is gone, but I guess that his job was done, he shown us that it is all about being bold, brave, unique, and more important be yourself.

    His work has changed our lives and I thank him for that. I’m going to post these notes on my wall. They are a true guide for any entrepreneur that has a higher purpose in life.

    • Nick Scheidies

      That’s great to hear, Mario. Having a visual reminder every day can help you to make a permanent change in the way you think and act.

  • Hamant

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for sharing those.
    Very inspirational quotes

    Thank you

  • Adesoji Adegbulu

    Simply Amazing. Simply Breathtaking!!!

    Shared on Facebook and Bookmarked for future reference.

  • Felicia Shelton

    A wonderful post, an amazing and generous man, Steve Jobs was but his enthusiasm and wisdom will live on forever.

  • Andrew Horder (@TheBusyFool)

    Thanks for some great reminders, especially about loving what you do, and thanks to Larry for the reminder about “real artists ship” – I always say there are only two important questions in business: “How much do I want to do this?” and “Will I make any money at it?” All else is detail.

    • Nick Scheidies

      Those are two great questions.

  • Samuel

    Awesome post! Love this… I feel very bad about his death. May his soul rest in perfect peace!!! Now no JOBS!!! Goodbye Jobs…Till we meet on the other side!

    Thanks so much for sharing. Have fun.

  • Mohan

    Great work Dunlop, My tribute to Steve Jobs…….

  • Gill

    He was a very inspirational man, and his memory will continue to be inspirational into the future.

  • Robert Nelson

    Great post Nick,

    This is a list I will spend some time to digest and think about.

    Tthe most amazing part is that although we lost a great visionary ……. I’m sure Steve Jobs has ignited the spark in many more to come…..

  • Andrew

    “At its best, higher education challenges us to make connections and solve problems.”

    Didn’t you leave out everything else? What about maturing, learning to navigate social relationships, exploring, making life long friends, living in a unique bubble that is nearly impossible to duplicate at any other time in life…and so much more.

    It seems that Jobs’ appreciation for college doesn’t fit neatly into this entrepreneurial blog, therefore you had to preface the statement with “At its best.”

    RIP Jobs

    • Nick Scheidies

      Thanks for the feedback, Andrew.

      If you read again, I think you’ll see that “At it’s best,” in this instance, doesn’t mean that those are the best two things about college. I simply meant that those are two things that college helps people accomplish at its best.

  • victor dairo

    wow, wow, wow! this is a well worth post kind of tribute to the world’s greatest business leader. good job nick, you really rock! perfect time for such an awesome lesson from a marketing god.

  • Michelle

    this is a GREAT post and something to print and read all the time – take it and learn from this – thank you for this gift today!!!

  • Kelly McCann

    To me, Steve Jobs had more of an impact than Bill Gates. The Apple Lisa then the Apple II is where personal computing all began. Steve started me on my journey of love for computers. He will be missed, but what he started will live on forever

  • Virginia Graham

    Steve was truly an amazing man. He is also 100% right about not settling for a job or person you don’t really love!

  • DC

    No one on earth can replace Jobs at the moment. I could see a post on Facebook saying “God Sent Men To Earth For Eating An Apple and He Called The Apple Man Back To Heaven As He Changed The Earth”


    He is a Legend and I am sure that the next generations will not forget that man

  • Mk Akan

    i will miss him…his life is a lesson to us all…he made a mark(dent) in the world.

  • Delle

    I’ve read and heard about Steve Jobs for years, but I only paid attention last year, when I came across his Stanford speech. Perfect timing because I was in my lowest low that time. Since then I’ve always watched that video whenever I feel I need reminding about the lessons he shared.

    Thank you for writing this list, Nick. Happy sailing to Steve. I’ll stay hungry and foolish. :)

  • Steve Little

    Well done Nick. Very inspirational. Thanks

  • David Stillwagon

    Incredibility motivating! Thanks for putting together this list from Steve Jobs.

  • Steve

    For most of us, getting fired from the company we started in our garage with every dime we had would have really hurt. I bet Steve was only upset for a day or two and then really, really inspired to learn and grow from that experience.

    Great motivation – especially when many people are currently facing personal, financial or career troubles.

  • Barry Dunlop

    Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish. RIP Steve Jobs

  • Nafiul Aziz

    SJ was a legend and apple is his legacy……i hope Tim will continue with the legacy of SJ.


    Still his speech(at Harvard) is fresh in my mind indeed, he is a HERO in my soul…

  • Robert MacEwan

    Outstanding article. Well worth sharing the hell out of on Twitter, Facebook & Google+.

  • Matt

    NIce post, but you got #2 absolutely wrong and it should be corrected for Steve’s benefit.

    His mother was young and unwed and wanted a better life for him, so she made an adoption plan. She wanted his parents to be college educated so she selected a lawyer and his wife. At the last moment, the lawyer’s wife decided she wanted a girl, so Steve’s biological mother selected another couple in California.

    Please don’t disparage Steve’s bio mother by stating he was “given up for adoption” because she wanted a girl – she actually wanted him to have a great life!

    • Delle

      [Please don’t disparage Steve’s bio mother by stating he was “given up for adoption” because she wanted a girl – she actually wanted him to have a great life!]

      I think the writer didn’t INTENTIONALLY “disparage” Steve’s biological mother. Maybe he got it wrong or something. I’m sure the writer can take some checking or correction in an informative kind of way. No need to heat up in a not-so-nice way. :)

      • Nick Scheidies

        Thanks for the support, Delle.

        Matt, thanks for keeping me in check. There are a lot of sources online that claim Steve’s birth mother had wanted a girl, and those are what I based my statement on. Upon looking closer, I suspect you’re right: it was the proposed adoptive parents.

        I’ll research further and then talk to Michael about making a change.

  • Rod Stewart

    Thanks, Nick! Your insight in your summary and quotes are inspirational and paraphrse my own belief system in Science of Mind! What a great role model of living life to the fullest we have in Steve Jobs!

  • Chuck Frey

    Thanks for this inspiring list! I have converted it into a colorful mind map here:

  • Steve Jobs Dead

    We lost the most inspiring former CEO and the co-founder of the company we even can’t think beyond the same Apple Inc.

  • Patrick Roden

    Meaningful post Nick…I’m doing my small part.

    Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.

    ~Author Unknown

    • Nick Scheidies

      Great quote!


    It is interesting that most of Job’s principles were biblical and the most conspicuous of them:” WE ARE WHAT WE THINK.” The scripture declares- “As a man thinks in his heart-so is he”-Proverbs 23:7. My only DISLIKE of these principles is No 20: REMEMBER YOU WILL BE DEAD SOON.” I appreciate the need to be conscious of our mortality, but even though death is inevitable, DEATH IS CONTROLLABLE. The Bible tells us so. The great men of the Bible died full of years having accomplished their vision and purpose for their generation. We must REDEEM THE TIME, but we should not live in the FEAR OF SUDDEN DEATH. Apostle Paul said he was in a dilemma of 2 decisions: to DEPART OR TO BE HERE, DEPARTING WAS BETTER BECAUSE HE WILL BE WITH THE LORD, BUT TO STAY WOULD BE A BLESSING TO THE BELIEVERS SO HE STAYED FOR SOME TIME MORE (Phil 1:21-26) UNTIL HE WAS READY; and then he said “FOR I AM NOW READY TO BE OFFERED, AND THE TIME OF MY DEPARTURE (DEPARTURE) IS AT HAND-2 TIM 4:6.” PAUL WAS IN CONTROL. YOU TOO CAN BE IN CONTROL!!!

  • Darlyne

    Great list which captures Steve Jobs outlook on Life. He has given all of us more than what we typically recognize. He’s given us a stronger way to connect to each other and brought the world over a closer connection to each other. He is an example of showing up fully, living from his genius mind. His mission was accomplished. He came, showed up, & conquered by delivering to us his dream.

    He’s added to each of our lives, truly inspirational and has made our world a better place and deserves a “forever” place of honor on this Earth. A Brilliant Mind & a man who is still & forever will be shining in his “Brilliance”.

  • Vinod

    Hey Nick,
    Nice work up there!!

    An Era Ends. Youngsters and budding innovators must look up to him.
    There really is a lot to learn from his life.

    Legends Never Die!

  • Joshua

    Thanks for the excellent list Nick. I’m especially grateful for #19: Learn how to take a brick to the head. Just what I needed to hear today. Jobs is certainly one of my biggest inspirations and he will be missed. May we all learn a little bit from this extraordinary man and his incredible vision.

  • Loren Greig

    There are few people who leave a legacy as great as Steve Jobs and we are all so fortunate to be able to share in it.

    Not only has Steve inspired the world, he remains a powerful example for each of us. Having taught us that being engulfed in what we love most and doing what we are most passionate about, creates a better world for all those around us. He is definitely engraved in the memories of people across the globe for us all to model his inspiration, motivation and teachings.

    Thanks so much for creating and sharing this list. Steve was a brilliant model and he is missed.

  • Cheryl Mortensen

    What a truly incredible man! We will miss him and his brilliant mind!

  • deepak

    what a nice quotes of nice man ! he really proved that where

    ” there’s a will there’s a way ” , any thing matters in life is ur passion!

  • Goza

    I put down my SLR and use my iPhone for some photography, really love instagram and all filters on iphone apps :))