#299 Steve Jobs Make Something Wonderful

Summary Notes


In this insightful episode, Steve Jobs' legacy is explored through a series of personal emails, interviews, and transcripts that reveal his deep-seated passion for innovation and excellence. Jobs' journey from starting Apple, his departure, and eventual return highlights his unwavering belief in creating products that he himself would love to use. His approach to management, focusing on recruiting passionate individuals and fostering a creative yet fiscally responsible environment, is underscored as a key to Apple's success. Jobs' philosophy on life and work, encapsulated in his poignant Stanford commencement address, emphasizes the importance of following one's heart and intuition, as well as the transient nature of life, urging us to live authentically and without fear of failure. His resignation letter, tendered shortly before his death, reflects his hope for Apple's continued innovation and his gratitude for the relationships forged there. Overall, Steve Jobs' reflections offer a window into the mind of a visionary who believed in the power of technology to enhance human creativity and change the world.

Summary Notes

Steve Jobs' Entrepreneurial Journey and Business Ventures

  • Steve Jobs' entrepreneurial path included starting multiple businesses before returning to Apple.
  • He founded and sold two businesses before focusing on his life's work at Apple.
  • Entrepreneurs often start multiple ventures before finding their true calling.

"In this episode that you're about to listen to, you're going to hear Steve Jobs start and then sell two other businesses before going back to Apple and focusing solely on his life's work."

The quote emphasizes the iterative nature of entrepreneurship, where individuals may embark on several ventures before dedicating themselves to their ultimate passion or most significant work.

Tiny: A Company Buying Businesses

  • Tiny provides straightforward cash exits for founders looking to sell their businesses.
  • They handle deals ranging from as little as a million dollars to over $100 million.
  • The selling process to Tiny is designed to be hassle-free and quick.

"Tiny is the easiest way for you to sell your business. They provide straightforward cash exits for founders, and they can do deals of all sizes."

This quote highlights Tiny's value proposition: making the process of selling a business simple and efficient for founders.

Meter: Simplifying Internet and Wifi for Businesses

  • Meter offers fast, secure, and reliable Internet and Wifi for commercial spaces.
  • The service includes an easy setup process with no upfront costs.
  • Meter handles complexity by dealing with all vendors, providing a single point of contact.

"Meter is the easiest way for your business to get fast, secure and reliable Internet and Wifi in any commercial space."

The quote outlines Meter's mission to streamline the process of setting up Internet and Wifi, making it as straightforward as other utilities.

Passion in Work

  • Passion is a recurring theme in Steve Jobs' life and approach to work.
  • Steve Jobs' speeches, interviews, and emails offer insights into his passionate work ethic.
  • Passion is considered a driving force behind successful and impactful work.

"The word Passion appears ten times in this new book on Steve Jobs."

This quote underscores the significance of passion in understanding Steve Jobs' character and his approach to his work and life.

Steve Jobs' Philosophy on Life and Work

  • Steve Jobs believed in creating products with care and love as an expression of appreciation to humanity.
  • He valued the intersection of arts and technology, reflecting his admiration for Edwin Land's ideas.
  • Jobs' rigorous standards for quality were first imposed on himself before expecting them from others.

"The best way to understand Steve is to listen to what he said and wrote over the course of his life."

The quote suggests that to truly grasp Steve Jobs' mindset, one should directly engage with his own words and ideas.

Steve Jobs' Legacy and Influence

  • Jobs' work reflected a blend of arts and technology, rigorous standards, and a vision for human progress.
  • He believed in the potential to make significant contributions to human advancement.
  • Jobs' ideas were intuitive and aimed at enhancing reality.

"Steve once told a group of students, you, appear, have a chance to blaze in the sky, and then you disappear."

This quote captures Jobs' perspective on the transient nature of life and the opportunity to make a meaningful impact during one's existence.

The Steve Jobs Archive and "Make Something Wonderful"

  • The Steve Jobs Archive offers a book titled "Make Something Wonderful: Steve Jobs in His Own Words" for free.
  • The book provides insights into Jobs' thoughts and philosophies.
  • Jobs' wife, Lauren Powell Jobs, introduces the book with personal reflections on his life and work.

"The Steve Jobs archive put this book available for free."

The quote informs readers about the accessibility of Steve Jobs' thoughts and philosophies through the Steve Jobs Archive, emphasizing the desire to share his legacy widely.

Early Influences on Steve Jobs

  • Steve Jobs' father instilled in him the value of building and understanding how things work.
  • Early exposure to electronics and the ability to create impacted Jobs' view of the world.
  • Jobs' early life in Silicon Valley provided him with unique learning opportunities.

"He had a workbench out in the garage. When I was about five or six. He sectioned off a little piece of it and said, Steve, this is your workbench now."

This quote illustrates the formative experience of young Steve Jobs learning to build and create, which played a role in shaping his future endeavors.

The Founding of Apple

  • Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple with the intention of making computers more accessible.
  • They faced challenges in funding and production but were driven by their vision for personal computing.
  • Jobs believed that their approach to computing would inevitably become the standard.

"We started a little personal computing manufacturing company in a garage in Los Altos in 1976."

The quote captures the humble beginnings of what would become one of the most influential tech companies in history.

Steve Jobs' Vision for Computing

  • Jobs saw the potential for computers to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
  • He compared computers to cameras, suggesting that personal interaction with technology was key to understanding it.
  • Jobs' early public statements reveal his ability to communicate his vision effectively.

"People have been hearing all sorts of things about computers during the past ten years through the media. Supposedly, computers have been trolling various aspects of their lives."

This quote reflects Jobs' early recognition of the gap between public perception and the reality of computing, and his desire to demystify technology for the masses.


  • Steve Jobs' journey showcases the importance of passion, vision, and persistence in entrepreneurship.
  • His legacy continues to inspire through his words and the products he helped create.
  • Jobs' life story serves as a reminder that with dedication and creativity, individuals can change the world.

"The world is a very malleable place. If you know what you want, you go for it with maximum energy and drive and passion. The world will often reconfigure itself around you much more quickly and easily than you would think."

This quote, though not by Jobs himself, encapsulates the ethos that Jobs embodied throughout his career and life.

Importance of Design in Technology

  • Steve Jobs highlighted the significance of design in technology, comparing the interaction with computers to the time spent with automobiles.
  • He emphasized that as people spend more time with technology, the design aspects should be given equal or greater consideration than those given to automobiles.
  • Jobs saw a massive opportunity in the early stage of computer adoption, noting that the generation in their 30s at the time would be the last to live most of their life without computers.
  • He believed in the potential to make computers aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly, moving away from the "ugly, faceless, blinking machines."

"People are going to spend two, 3 hours a day interacting with these machines. That's longer than they spend in their car. And so the industrial design, the software design, and how people interact with these things certainly must be given the consideration that we give automobiles today, if not a lot more."

The quote emphasizes the need for thoughtful design in technology due to the increasing amount of time people spend using computers and other devices.

The Power of Books and Knowledge

  • Jobs credited books with having a significant impact on his life, even suggesting they kept him out of jail by providing direct access to the thoughts of great thinkers like Aristotle and Plato.
  • He appreciated the unmediated transfer of knowledge from books and envisioned computers could one day serve a similar purpose.
  • Jobs believed in the transformative power of ideas and the lasting impact they can have on individuals.

"Books kept me out of jail. This is what Steve said. That's crazy. So he says, when I was going to school, I had a few great teachers and a lot of mediocre teachers. And the thing that probably kept me out of jail was the books."

This quote reflects Jobs' belief in the profound influence of books on his personal development and the role they played in shaping his thinking.

Making a Dent in the Universe

  • Jobs wanted to contribute positively to society, feeling that most people constantly take from the pool of human experience without giving back.
  • He saw creating something wonderful as a way to contribute to humanity and leave a mark, indicating a life well-lived and meaningful.
  • Jobs' philosophy was reflected in his dedication to creating products that improved people's lives.

"And the ability to put something back into the pool of human experience is extremely neat. That is why the book is named, make SOmETHiNg wonderful. When you make something wonderful, you put it back into the stream of humanity."

The quote captures Jobs' desire to contribute to society by creating products that enrich human experience.

Historical Perspective in Product Development

  • Jobs had a deep historical knowledge which he used to place his products in a broader historical context.
  • He compared the Macintosh to the telephone, not the telegraph, to illustrate the importance of intuitive user interfaces.
  • Jobs believed in learning from history to innovate and create products that met the needs of users without requiring them to learn complex new skills.

"It's sort of like in 1844 when the telegraph was invented. And it was amazing, breakthrough in communications. And you can actually send messages from New York to San Francisco in an afternoon."

This quote shows how Jobs used historical analogies to explain the revolutionary nature of the Macintosh and its user-friendly design.

Learning from Failure

  • Jobs recognized the importance of time and perseverance in creating great products.
  • He did not see his taste in aesthetics as unique but rather his stubbornness in refining products until they met a high standard.
  • Jobs acknowledged that making mistakes was an essential part of the process, leading to improved aesthetics and better products overall.

"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 and a willingness to do so, a willingness to persevere until it's really great."

The quote underlines the value Jobs placed on learning from mistakes and dedicating time to achieve excellence in product design.

Steve Jobs' Post-Apple Ventures

  • After leaving Apple, Jobs faced significant challenges with his new company, NeXT, and with Pixar.
  • Despite having the financial means to retire, Jobs was driven by his passion for making great products and continued to work on creating innovative technologies.
  • Jobs' approach to success was not defined by financial metrics but by the impact his work had on the industry and society.

"I want to build things. What I'm best at doing is finding a group of talented people and making things with them."

This quote reflects Jobs' innate drive to create and innovate, regardless of his financial status.

The Role of Intuition in Success

  • Jobs advised graduates to pay attention to their intuitions and nurture them, as they can lead to fulfilling life paths.
  • He encouraged creativity by connecting diverse experiences and insights, suggesting that a broad range of experiences can enhance one's creative potential.
  • Jobs believed that great ideas and contributions could come from any level within an organization, not just the top.

"The most important things in life are not the goal-oriented, materialistic things that everyone and everything tries to convince you to strive for."

This quote highlights Jobs' belief in the importance of non-materialistic pursuits and following one's intuition for a meaningful life.

Creative Pursuits and Unchartered Paths

  • Creativity requires exploring paths outside of past experiences.
  • New dimensions of oneself should be sought, especially those with a romantic scent.
  • Predicting which paths will be successful is impossible; one must follow their heart.
  • Believing in one's heart leads to a richer life and trust in instincts and intuition.

"By not traveling the same path as everyone else. And he continues, so to be a creative person, you have to invest in yourself by exploring unchartered paths that are outside the realm of your past experience."

This quote emphasizes the importance of diverging from conventional paths to foster creativity and personal growth.

The Concept of a Career

  • A career is a progression through stages in one's work life.
  • Safe career choices can lead to regret after realizing the sacrifices made.
  • People often wake up years later, dissatisfied with their career choice.
  • The speaker has a unique perspective, knowing many who feel trapped in traditional careers.

"The enemy of most dreams and intuitions, and one of the most dangerous and stifling concepts ever invented by humans, is the career."

The quote criticizes the concept of a career as being counterproductive to fulfilling one's dreams and listening to one's intuition.

The Journey Versus the Destination

  • The journey is more rewarding than the destination.
  • The crossing of the rainbow, not the pot of gold, is the reward.
  • Time is the essence of life, and how it's spent is crucial.
  • Life should be lived fully, as it is finite with birth and death as the two endpoints.

"The journey is the reward. People think that you've made it when you've gotten to the end of the rainbow and got a pot of gold, but they're wrong."

This quote suggests that the process and experiences gained along the way are more valuable than the end goal itself.

The Inevitability of Death as a Decision-Making Tool

  • Death should be used as a tool to guide how one spends their time.
  • Birth and death are solitary experiences that many young people have not contemplated.
  • The awareness of mortality should inspire one to live fully and leave a legacy.
  • Having few regrets is important, as regrets are often about missed opportunities.

"The two endpoints of everyone's rainbow are birth and death. We all experience both completely alone."

This quote reflects on the solitary nature of life's most significant events, encouraging a mindful approach to living.

Editing Before Creation

  • Editing is often considered a post-creation process, but it can be done beforehand.
  • Walt Disney's approach to animation required editing before production due to cost.
  • Storytelling's impact is timeless, unlike technology, which constantly evolves.

"The art of storytelling is very old, and no amount of technology can turn a bad story into a good story."

The quote highlights the enduring power of storytelling and the importance of pre-production editing in creative processes.

The Importance of People in Achieving Quality

  • Quality is non-negotiable and starts with having great people.
  • Identifying A-players is crucial, and their potential can be seen in their results or potential for intelligence and drive.
  • Job interviews should challenge candidates to defend their work and ideas.

"There are no shortcuts around quality, and quality starts with people."

This quote underscores the fundamental role of talented individuals in creating high-quality work and products.

Steve Jobs' Return to Apple and the Focus on Simplicity

  • Apple was struggling financially upon Steve Jobs' return.
  • Jobs was driven to contribute to human experience and had matured as a leader.
  • He emphasized the need for a balance between creative risk-taking and fiscal conservatism.
  • Focusing on fewer products allowed for greater quality and innovation.
  • The values driving Apple included honesty, the enhancement of human creativity, and the importance of beauty and details.

"The apple that Steve returned to after its purchase of next at the end of 1996 didn't resemble the company he remembered."

This quote sets the stage for the transformative changes Steve Jobs would implement upon his return to Apple.

Steve Jobs' Perspective on Leadership and Innovation

  • Jobs' approach to leadership involved inspiring and pushing people to see beyond their perceived limits.
  • He believed in delivering honest feedback and encouraging better performance.
  • Jobs' re-entry to Apple was marked by skepticism, which he addressed by focusing on survival, stability, product strategy, and growth.
  • His vision for Apple involved simplifying the product line and focusing on consumer markets.

"My job is to make sure the work is as good as it should be and to get people to stretch beyond their best."

This quote reveals Jobs' philosophy on leadership and his commitment to excellence in work.

Reflections on Legacy and the Importance of Habitual Excellence

  • Jobs frequently self-reflected by emailing himself notes to capture his thoughts.
  • He saw Apple as a bridge between technology and regular people, emphasizing ease of use and creativity.
  • Jobs admired Aristotle's quote on excellence being a habit, not a single act.
  • The interview with Leslie Berlin highlights Jobs' respect for his mentor, Robert Noyce, and his own dedication to continuous innovation.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

This quote, attributed to Aristotle and referenced by Jobs, encapsulates the idea that consistent effort and habitual excellence define success more than isolated achievements.

Personal Growth and Perspective

  • Steve reflects on the difference in his understanding and perspective from his 20s to approaching his 50s.
  • He acknowledges that with age comes greater knowledge and understanding.
  • Older, wiser individuals often provide advice that may not be fully appreciated until one has similar experiences.
  • Steve highlights the rarity of learning from others' experiences, which he admires in Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett.

"And now that I'm approaching 50, it's easy to see how people in their 50s know more than people in their 20s."

This quote emphasizes the clarity that comes with age and experience, recognizing the value of wisdom gained over time.

Mentorship and Entrepreneurship

  • Steve discusses the value of mentorship and the impact it has on young entrepreneurs.
  • Bob Noyce's philosophy of "restocking the stream" he fished from is highlighted, showcasing the desire to give back to the entrepreneurial community.
  • Sam Zell's commitment to sharing knowledge and wisdom is also mentioned, underlining the sense of obligation felt by successful entrepreneurs to pass on their learnings.

"I wanted to restock the fish. The stream. I wanted to restock the stream I fish from, like, I benefited."

This quote from Bob Noyce encapsulates the ethos of giving back to the community that supported one's success, emphasizing the cyclical nature of mentorship and support.

The Importance of Optimism and Passion in Innovation

  • Steve Jobs highlights that optimism and passion are essential for innovation because of the inherent difficulties involved.
  • He points out that without a deep care for the work being done, it's easy to give up when faced with challenges.
  • The discussion also touches on the importance of being truly engaged with one's work to persevere.

"Well, it's optimism and passion because it's really hard. And if you don't really, really care about what you're doing, you're going to give up because you're sane."

Steve Jobs emphasizes the importance of passion and optimism in driving innovation, suggesting that without them, the rational choice would be to abandon difficult endeavors.

Seeking Guidance from Experienced Entrepreneurs

  • Steve Jobs shares his experiences of reaching out to established figures like Bob Noyce and Andy Grove for advice in his early twenties.
  • He highlights the willingness of these individuals to share their knowledge and the importance of building relationships over time.
  • Steve reiterates the value of asking for help, considering it an underutilized superpower.

"I called him, meaning Bob Noyce and Andy Grove and a few other people. I just called him up and said, look, I'm young, and I'm trying to run with this company."

This quote reflects Steve Jobs' proactive approach to seeking wisdom from more experienced individuals, demonstrating the importance of mentorship in his development.

The Human Drama Underneath Innovation

  • Steve Jobs talks about the human aspects behind business and innovation, pointing out that behind the historical facts, there are personal struggles and human experiences.
  • He emphasizes the need to understand the past to comprehend the present.
  • Jobs also references a quote by Schopenhauer on the value of generational perspective.

"There's a human drama to most everything. You look at it sometimes and it seems dry as history. But if you peel the onion, there's humanity underneath."

Steve Jobs underscores the personal, human stories that underlie the seemingly dry facts of history and innovation, suggesting that understanding these stories is key to understanding our current situation.

Product and Advertising Strategy

  • Steve Jobs discusses the strategy behind Apple's product innovations and advertising.
  • He explains that focusing on a few key innovations for advertising helps avoid confusing customers with too many messages.
  • Jobs also talks about the importance of strategic retail locations to reach a broader audience.

"If Apple comes up with a dozen innovations in a year, we can maybe advertise four or five of them."

This quote highlights the strategic decision-making involved in product marketing, focusing on the clarity of message to ensure customer understanding and interest.

Team Building and Management Philosophy

  • Steve Jobs emphasizes the importance of working with great people and the significant variance in the quality of individuals one may encounter.
  • He discusses his unique perspective on management, including the idea that management should be about preventing the wrong person from leading a team.
  • Jobs also touches on the concept of "management by values," aligning a team towards common goals.

"Everything comes down to the quality of people that you work with, the quality of people that you have in your life."

This quote captures the essence of Steve Jobs' belief in the paramount importance of surrounding oneself with high-quality individuals in both personal and professional spheres.

The Impact of Mortality on Decision Making

  • Steve Jobs shares his thoughts on the importance of recognizing the temporary nature of life and the impact this realization has on making significant choices.
  • He encourages following one's heart and intuition, dismissing the expectations and opinions of others.
  • Jobs reflects on the importance of loving what you do to achieve great work.

"The most important thing I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices is to remember that I'll be dead soon."

Steve Jobs conveys the urgency of living authentically and making decisions that align with one's true desires, given the finite nature of life.

Reflections on Life and Legacy

  • Steve Jobs' resignation letter from Apple is shared, expressing his desire to contribute to the company's success in a new role.
  • His email to himself highlights his appreciation for the contributions of others to his life and well-being.
  • The notes emphasize the unpredictability of life and the importance of seizing opportunities that can change one's life.

"I have always said if there ever came a day where I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple CEO, I would be the first to let you know."

This resignation letter from Steve Jobs to the Apple community marks a poignant moment in his career, recognizing his inability to continue in his role due to health issues and signaling a transition in leadership.

Conclusion and Encouragement to Read Steve Jobs Archive

  • The speaker encourages listeners to read the Steve Jobs Archive to gain insights from Jobs' own words.
  • A sense of urgency is conveyed to learn from the experiences and thoughts of Steve Jobs.
  • The speaker offers links and resources for further exploration of Jobs' life and work.

"I cannot believe the gift that Steve Jobs archive have just given to the world."

This final quote expresses gratitude for the access to Steve Jobs' personal reflections and encourages others to take advantage of this resource to learn from his experiences.

What others are sharing

Go To Library

Want to Deciphr in private?
- It's completely free

Deciphr Now
Footer background
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon

© 2024 Deciphr

Terms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy