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21 Life Lessons from Steve Jobs

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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.

Life Advice From Steve Jobs

#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.

Ready to Redefine Success?

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.


Read more: ‘How Apple Became the World’s Most Valuable Company’


  1. 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!

  2. Randy Schrum says:

    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.


  3. Fisayo @ Iroyin says:

    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

  4. Bloggers Tips says:

    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.

  5. Sadie-Michaela Harris says:

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

  6. Larry Gamboa says:

    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.

  7. Clifford Enoc says:

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

  8. Brendan | MMA Training says:

    RIP Steve.

    He really was a true visionary!

  9. Wonderful to know these facts of a successful man …

  10. Trish Jones says:

    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.


  11. Trish Jones says:

    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.


  12. 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 says:

      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.

  13. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for sharing those.
    Very inspirational quotes

    Thank you

  14. Adesoji Adegbulu says:

    Simply Amazing. Simply Breathtaking!!!

    Shared on Facebook and Bookmarked for future reference.

  15. Felicia Shelton says:

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

  16. Andrew Horder (@TheBusyFool) says:

    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.

  17. 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.

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

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

  20. Robert Nelson says:

    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…..

  21. “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 says:

      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.

  22. victor dairo says:

    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.

  23. 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!!!

  24. Kelly McCann says:

    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

  25. Virginia Graham says:

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

  26. 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”

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

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

  29. 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. 🙂

  30. Steve Little says:

    Well done Nick. Very inspirational. Thanks

  31. David Stillwagon says:

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

  32. 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.

  33. Barry Dunlop says:

    Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish. RIP Steve Jobs

  34. Nafiul Aziz says:

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

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

  36. Robert MacEwan says:

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

  37. 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!

    • [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 says:

        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.

  38. Rod Stewart says:

    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!

  39. Chuck Frey says:

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

  40. Steve Jobs Dead says:

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

  41. Patrick Roden says:

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

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

    ~Author Unknown


    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!!!

  43. 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”.

  44. 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!

  45. 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.

  46. Loren Greig says:

    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.

  47. Cheryl Mortensen says:

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

  48. 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!

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

  50. fazal mayar says:

    great post, i heard all that stuff on radio today lol

  51. Wasim Ismail says:

    Amazing Man
    Amazing Brand
    Amazing Products

    Amazing how someone you don’t know, but touched billions of hearts.


  52. Internet Geeks says:

    I think Steve Jobs is the most iconic CEO ever in history. Bills Gate may be richer than Jobs but lacks that aura Jobs have. RIP Steve!

  53. Julieanne van Zyl says:

    Wonderful article Nick! Steve Jobs had great lessons for any entrepreneur to learn from. Thanks for writing this, regards from Julieanne

  54. Natalie Sisson says:

    Really like the wide variety of perspectives you’ve written here about Steve – the man, the legend and the visionary.

    Such a tragic loss. His legacy will live on forever.

  55. I’m not sure if this is his greatest success, but one success beyond apple I’d say is his involvement in the creation of Pixar studios and the first computer animated film Toy Story.

  56. wanda novy says:

    Great job Nick. Steve was a great man and he will be missed. Appreciate your time.

  57. Paulo Teller says:

    Tremendous article!
    The best way to honor such a person would be, in fact, detail the way he could inspire others, exactly and pointing out all the necessary steps for succeeding.
    I am going to “deliver” your message through my sites and blogs.
    Thanks for being so innovative.
    Best wishes to you,

  58. Bingo Ventura says:

    Inspiring lessons from an inspirational man by an inspired author.

    Thanks to Steve for raising the bar.

    Great piece, Nick.

    Thanks! It motivated me to push through with something I’ve been planning.

  59. Derivation From says:

    I still remember his saying “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” ¬– Steve Jobs and this has had a great impact on my life.
    Thanks mate.

  60. Very good post Nick, great work. In the Stnford university speech he mentions that he used to sleep on floors, walk seven kilometer to the Hare Krishna centre for a warm meal every week! Simplicity and the need to survive. The Legend will live on

  61. Hi Nick. Loved the article. I would like to get a reference for the adoption story as someone disagrees with it, saying this account is incorrect.

  62. Lisa Tweedie says:

    Loving all the tributes to the man…. feeling a bit lost this week

    Here are mine:

    RIP Steve Jobs

    Thanks – a letter I sent to Steve on the 2nd Sept.

  63. Lisa Tweedie says:

    Love the post by the way…

  64. Emmylou H says:

    Wow! Thanks for this excellent list. =) It made my day.

  65. Glad someone posted this message so quickly. 21 life lessons are a keeper no matter what your age or place in life. Jobs’ creativity and inspiration will be a loss to us all.

  66. Ilka Flood says:

    Hi Nick,

    Awesome video and list of lessons! I enjoyed it so much that I linked to it from my blog to share it with my readers as well.

    Thanks so much for sharing your insights!

    Ilka Flood

  67. Yes, He was the man of the 21fst century. Thank you Steve and rest in peace.

  68. A wonderful lists of inspirational message well displayed. Steve Jobs RIP. Well done Nick! Thanks for sharing.

  69. Niladri Chowdhury says:

    His speech to Stanford graduates in 2005 is so far the best that I have heard ever.. it rings true.. “connect the dots… and the believe in destiny’ and ofcourse the one you quoted in this post ” The only way to do great work is to love what you do ” So true, and I am yet to find out what is that one thing that I love to do and will love to keep on doing even if i don’t get paid a penny for my work.. The search is still on!

  70. Nicely done.

  71. Tom Stumpf says:

    Great job, Nick, both as to the graphic video and the enlightening twenty-one points! You are a very talented young man, and could well have as great an impact as Steve Himself!!

  72. Daphne Fan says:

    Thanks for sharing. Steve Job’s life story encourages me to follow my current passion – tiring but fulfilling. In any case, as long as I enjoyed what I am doing, that’s what it matters most. 🙂

  73. Dwight Anthony says:

    Brilliant post, Steve Jobs was a man of legend. A man that started Apple Computers, got sacked from it and was rehired as the head honcho again. Bringing Apple to be one of the world’s biggest and most trusted brands.

    I also paid tribute to Steve Jobs here:

    A few things I loved about Jobs.

    >>He was an innovator that always pushed the envelope
    >> A man of humility and privacy, yet inspired millions of people
    >> A guy with great drive and determination and would definitely pursue something until completion.
    >> A man that always was conscious of the mortality of man and knew we had to make our dent in the universe while we’re here.

    Just a few of the great qualities I liked about this guy. Jobs also made quite a few enemies, yet this became the thing that separated Apple and his other companies from accepting the status quo. In any case, I wanted to dig deeper about what made Jobs tick and such a success. I ran with my thoughts on this great leader here:

    RIP Steve,

    Dwight Anthony

  74. William Condon says:

    follow your dreams
    never give up
    make mistakes
    learn from others
    find successful people to learn from

    that is what I have always believed
    and Steve was all of the above and more

    people such as me can write catchy slogans
    and most will just yorn and say yeah yeah
    but a Rare Diamond Like Steve Jobs says it
    and everyone takes notice, so well done
    presenting this insight to our generations
    greatest innovator a true genius

    all mac users will always remember him
    for how he innovated technology which
    enhances our daily lives

  75. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    A visionary, yes, but why whitewash things? It’s not a high school reunion. In some things, I tip my hat to him and in other cases I put it right back on. I’ve admired a lot of what he’s done but does admiration have to be coupled with hagiography?

  76. Great post about one of the world’s true greats! Great lessons I learn from him. He really lived and impacted the world. Older people should not think that there’s no hope for them. Everyone can make a difference, everyone can make an impact.

  77. talha junani says:

    hey! dats owsom keep posting dude>>>>>>

  78. “I mean, some people say, ‘Oh, God, if [Jobs] got run over by a bus, Apple would be in trouble.’ And, you know, I think it wouldn’t be a party, but there are really capable people at Apple. My job is to make the whole executive team good enough to be successors, so that’s what I try to do.”
    miss u steve

  79. Mischa Lominy says:

    Great Article bro. Truly inspiring. I’m already taking action like Steve Jobs did.
    Here is my blog where I give free Android tips.

  80. He might not have been the nicest guy in the world, but he had vision and passion. There are a lot of things to learn from Jobs. I really enjoyed reading his biography.


  81. Julie Dawn Harris says:

    If there is one thing that we could learn from Steve Jobs, is to start early. Start young, when you can still learn fast, be stronger and full of energy, fresh from what you learn from college and while you have a creative mind. Thanks for sharing this information. It is very inspiring 🙂

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