Steve Jobs’ Life By Design

Yesterday, I finished reading George Beahm’s book, Steve Jobs’ Life By Design, for the second time. The last time I read it was during my gap year in 2013/2014 when I was working on starting a company of my own. It was one of the first books I read cover to cover and it was immeasureably impactful on my perspective at the time. In many ways, it continues to inform how I think about life today. This book is not nearly as well-known as the official biography by Walter Isaacson, which I read as well, but I enjoyed this book more and found it to be more valuable to me personally. The organization and structure of the book is based upon Steve Job’s Stanford Commencement Speech, which I have written about previously.

I often recall quotes from that speech such as “you cannot connect the dots looking forward”, “you have to trust in something; your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path”, and “remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

Below is a list of quotes from the book that I underlined in my recent reading. Perhaps one of them you will find to be worthy of an underline as well.

8 – “Well, my greatest reward I think is… I’ve been able to build this wonderful organization… I feel I can… have the public appreciate and accept what I’ve done all these years. That is a great reward.” – Walt Disney

18 – “Have the courage to live your life, not the one imagined for you by well-intentioned parents or other authority figures. You will know what’s best.” – Steve Jobs

19 – “Your time is limited.” – Steve Jobs

21 – “With few exceptions, 30,000 days is the average human lifespan — 40,000 if you’re lucky.” – Bruce J. Klein … “Steve Jobs wasn’t so lucky. He lived only 20,984 days.” – Author

23 – “Live each day as if it were thy last — without haste, or pause, or sloth, or hypocrisy.” – Marcus Aurelius

27 – “A vegetarian in college and, later, a pescetarian, Jobs loved fresh sushi (especially eel) and soba (noodles).” – Author

28 – “After the war, the Japanese people had very little to wear. Companies provided uniforms so workers would not feel ashamed; they’d have presentable clothes to wear to work” – Author (summarizing Akio Morita, Co-Founder of Sony)

29 – “Good artists copy, great artists steal” – Pablo Picasso

30 – “Only with these three kinds of creativity — technology, product planning, and marketing — can the public receive the benefit of a new technology” – Steve Jobs

33 – “Cultivating curiosity for its own sake can lead to unexpected results in ways that are unforeseen — life can be delightfully serendipitous” – Steve Jobs

35 – “If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away” – Steve Jobs

52 – “You have to trust in something” – Steve Jobs

53 – “Place your trust in life’s processes, and let life run its course. In time all will become apparent.” – Author

57 – “Don’t settle” – Steve Jobs

58 – “Make your hobby your source of income” – Joseph Campbell

61 – (After his visit to Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center) “Within ten minutes, it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this someday. You couldn’t argue about its inevitability, it was so obvious.” – Steve Jobs

63 – (On Pixar) “Steve just hung in there and hung in there and hung in there until they got into the sweet spot where everything that they know suddenly was applicable in a way that made commercial sense.” – Alan Kay

64 – “Find the work that you love — and then relentless pursue it. That’s where you will find your fortune.” – Steve Jobs

69 – “We look forward to responsible competition in the massive effort to distribute this American technology to the world.” – Steve Jobs

110 – “Both Steve Jobs and Laurene Powell felt less was more” – Author

113 – “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

118 – “He was a dual CEO (Apple in Cupertino and Pixar in Point Richmond), and he was wearing himself thin, like too little butter scraped over too much toast.” – Author

119 – “Jobs’s expertise was less in computers than it was in the humans who used them.” – Time Magazine

120 – “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci

141 – “I never want you to ask what I would have done. Just do what’s right.” – Steve Jobs to Tim Cook in 2011

141 – “Jobs reminded us that death is ‘life’s change agent’, a natural part of life. We should therefore gracefully accept it and focus on life’s journey, not its end.” – Author

143 – “Avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” – Steve Jobs

144 – “Memento Mori is Latin for ‘Remember that you will die.'” – Author

149 – “Somebody once told me, ‘Live each day as if it would be your last, and one day you’ll certainly be right.’ I do that. You never know when you’re going to go, but you are going to go pretty soon. If you’re going to leave anything behind, it’s going to be your kids, a few friends, and your work. So that’s what I tend to worry about.” – Steve Jobs

159 – “Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” – Steve Jobs

160 – “A realm of intimate, personal power is developing — power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested.” – Stewart Brand, Founder of Whole Earth Catalog

164 – “I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders… [long passage about how a condor uses much less energy than a human to move a kilometer but how a human uses much less than a condor when using a bicycle] … And that’s what a computer is to me… the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” – Steve Jobs

165 – “The Web transformed the world into a global electronic village, accessible by smartphones that have democratized access to information.” – Author

167 – “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” – The Last Whole Earth Catalog (back cover)

168 – “The image I had in my mind was that of a hitchhiker at dawn on a road somewhere and the sun comes up and there are trains going by. The frame of mind of the young hitchhiker is one of the freest frames of mind there is. You’re always a little bit hungry and you know you are being completely foolish.” – Stewart Brand

169 – “Jobs’ reference to “staying hungry” was more an expression of a desire for knowledge, for enlightenment” – Author

169 – “What is a hippie… It’s beyond what you see every day. Beyond a job, two cars in the garage, and a career. There’s something more that’s going on. There’s another side of the coin that we don’t talk about much, and we experience it when there’s gaps, when everything is not ordered and perfect.” – Steve Jobs

170 – “[Steve] was constantly tackling new ideas, putting new concepts into play, looking for the next big thing.” – Nolan Bushnell, Founder of Atari

172 – “‘Stay Foolish,’ the second part of Brand’s admonition that Jobs embraced, refers to a state of mind — one as free as possible, without constraints, as Brand explained: an unburdened mind, capable of thinking clearly and creatively; in short, a free thinker, someone who has “rejected authority and dogma, especially in religious thinking, in favor of rational inquiry and speculation.” Or in Apple’s terms, someone who would ‘think different.'” – Author (quoting Stewart Brand)

172 – “For Jobs, the journey was the reward” – Author

181 – “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” – Steve Jobs’ sister Mona Simpson, recalling his last words