Steve Jobs led an inspirational life full of passion and creative brilliance. I won’t lie. I am a huge admirer.
His vision and core values were a light in a world bedeviled by speed, noise, and change. His flaws and mistakes made him all the more endearing.
And when he failed, he failed spectacularly. And when he got back up, he did that with class, too.
Even more, his views on death were the same as mine. When one thinks of death, life is that much more precious. Ten years ago, I was told to put my affairs in order, too. I am still here. He is not. But his spirit is in his words. Thankfully, he left plenty of those around. His speeches are still inspirational.
Which brings me to 10 of the incredible lessons he left behind:
One. Don’t live a limited life. In an interdependent world, it is sometimes too easy to compare ourselves. And often our point of comparisons are meaningless. Be authentic. Be bold. Be fearless.
Two. Be passionate. It is sometimes easy to get up, go to work, meet up with peers afterwards, go home, eat, go to bed. It’s the grind. At the end is a paycheck. It is safe and predictable. But without passion, is it worth doing? Sometimes, safety is a false positive.
Three. Design for yourself. Design a life you would want. Design a product you would use. Design a message that has meaning for you. It will authentically reflect your core values and your authenticity will resonate with those who would engage with you.
Four. Don’t sell crap. Clearly, Steve Jobs was talking about products, but that belief goes beyond a commodity. In a time in which personal branding is a ‘thing’, putting our best effort into it is still important. Put your passion into whatever you put out into the world. Marketing is crap if it does not have heart.
Five. Build a great team. There are still old style managers out there who are afraid of true leaders and terrified of the well-oiled team. They jealousy guard their territory even when they do not have the heart to put their passion into their team. Teams have a common mission. If that mission does not belong to everyone, then it is not a mission worth striving for. Every good leader, every good organization, knows that if their mission is not transparent, it is ultimately doomed to failure in an increasingly democratized world. Even more, build a great team at home.
Six. Don’t do it for the money. Money has become such a driving force in our world. It is the tool of civilization most apt to separate people. But money only has absolute power when we assign it that power. Everyone needs it to survive, but beyond that, don’t let money get in the way of your core values and the meaning you find in life. Don’t let it extinguish your passion. Be generous in spirit and your passion will thrive. All of us know someone whose ego is committed to getting more and filling a hole that cannot be filled. Pity them and don’t get sucked down into that hole. They are doing it for all the wrong reasons.
Seven. Be proud of what you put out into the world. Let fire ignite what you do and what you put out into the world will show it. If you question it, check back with #4. Don’t sell crap.
Eight. Build around customers. Niche? Market? Consumer? All of us are more than that. We are humans. We are storytellers. We are problem solvers. We are all infinitely capable of astounding brilliance. Each of us is a walking product of what it took the human race to survive. Each an answer to the collaborative intent to thrive as a species. Make it human and it will be the truth.
Nine. Marketing is about values. Who are you? What is it you stand for? If you slow down enough to ask yourself, your heart will tell you what values you most admire. What you want to reflect out into the world. Your mind will tap into something more universal than only your ego’s purpose. We all strive for community and purpose. It is our human collaborativeness. Express it. In a world in which we are all now listening, make your message a reflection of your beliefs.
Ten. Stay hungry, stay foolish. In the last issue of The Whole Earth Catalog, these words were printed underneath a picture of the open road. Without our ability to play, we become heavy. Life is an open road. An adventure to be experienced to the fullest. Fear and greed and judgment just get in the way.
Steve Jobs lived a life of passion that changed the world for the better. And he still inspires me to live my life with passion.