Steve Jobs and His Heroes



In a special episode commemorating Apple's 45th anniversary, the host reflects on the influence of Steve Jobs and the importance of learning from history's greatest entrepreneurs. He emphasizes that Jobs, like many successful founders, devoted time to studying predecessors, using their insights to build Apple. The host has dedicated 6000 hours to distilling entrepreneurial wisdom from over 100,000 pages into 247 exclusive, ad-free podcast episodes. He recommends starting with episodes on Jobs and his influences, such as Edwin Land (Polaroid) and Robert Noyce (Intel), to gain valuable lessons. Additionally, he touches on the significance of re-reading and re-listening to material as one's perspective evolves. The episode serves as an invitation to join the Misfit feed for full access to these entrepreneurial insights.

Summary Notes

Founding of Apple and Influence of Historical Figures

  • Apple was founded 45 years ago and serves as a prime example of how entrepreneurs learn from predecessors.
  • Steve Jobs is highlighted as an entrepreneur who extensively studied great historical figures.
  • Founders podcasts are meant to impart the wisdom and mistakes of history's greatest entrepreneurs to listeners.
  • The podcast provides partial episodes, with full episodes available through subscription.

Apple was founded 45 years ago today.

This quote marks the anniversary of Apple's founding, setting the stage for the discussion on how historical study influenced Steve Jobs and the company's creation.

And when I read that, I had the idea to do just a quick little episode for you that highlights the almost 40 different episodes of founders that I've done on Steve Jobs or the people that he was influenced by or looked up to.

The speaker is introducing the concept of the episode, which is to explore the influence of historical figures on Steve Jobs and how this aligns with the purpose of Founders podcasts.

And that's because Steve, like every single other of history's greatest entrepreneurs, all spent an excessive amount of time studying from and learning from the great people that came before them, and then use the ideas that they learn through that practice of study and reading to use those ideas in the company that they wind up building.

This quote emphasizes the importance of learning from historical figures to build successful companies, which is a core message of the podcast and a practice exemplified by Steve Jobs.

Importance of Learning from Biographies

  • Biographies are crucial for understanding the journey and evolution of successful individuals like Steve Jobs.
  • Steve Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson introduced the speaker to other influential founders.
  • The book "Becoming Steve Jobs" is recommended for its detailed account of Jobs' transformation from a reckless upstart to a visionary leader.
  • Mark Andreessen's introduction in "Becoming Steve Jobs" and his personal reading habits underscore the value of learning from biographies.

The very first episode I ever did on Steve Jobs, it was number five. It was based on Steve Jobs' biography. It was written by Walter Isaacson.

This quote introduces the first episode on Steve Jobs, which is based on his biography by Walter Isaacson, highlighting the influence of this work on the speaker's understanding of entrepreneurship.

The book is called "Becoming Steve Jobs, the evolution of a reckless upstart into a visionary leader."

The title of the book "Becoming Steve Jobs" is mentioned, which focuses on the personal and professional growth of Steve Jobs, providing a narrative of his evolution as an entrepreneur.

And it was published after the Isaacson's biography. So it also builds on some of what Isaacson wrote about.

This quote indicates that "Becoming Steve Jobs" was published after Isaacson's biography, suggesting it adds further insights into Steve Jobs' life and work.

He says there are thousands of years of history in which lots and lots of very smart people worked very hard and ran all types of experiments on how to create new businesses, invent new technology, come up with new ways to manage, et cetera.

Mark Andreessen's quote highlights the collective wisdom accumulated over thousands of years by intelligent individuals who experimented with business, technology, and management, which is accessible through biographies.

You could productively spend your time reading experiences of great people who have come before you and learn every time.

The quote from Mark Andreessen emphasizes the productivity and educational value of reading about the experiences of great historical figures.

Value of Historical Knowledge in Entrepreneurship

  • Historical knowledge provides an edge in entrepreneurship by offering lessons from the past.
  • The podcast "Return to the Little Kingdom" by Michael Moritz covers the early years of Apple, illustrating the value of older, less-known sources.
  • Studying history is not mutually exclusive with staying current but is crucial for building a strong foundation of knowledge.

Very few people are reading these books. Very few people are like, you just have a complete edge because everybody's focused on what's happening now, what are entrepreneurs doing now?

This quote suggests that reading older, less popular books on entrepreneurship gives listeners an advantage because most people focus on current trends, overlooking historical lessons.

It's not that they don't pay attention to what's going on now. But if you have to choose between, let me listen to a podcast interview with an entrepreneur that's operating today, or let me study a great entrepreneur in the past. It's no question the greatest entrepreneurs will tell you, choose the history first.

The speaker argues that while current information is important, the wisdom of historical entrepreneurs is invaluable and should be prioritized in learning.

So anyways, the reason that this is interesting is because the book is, first of all, very, very old.

The mention of the book's age underscores the podcast's focus on delving into older sources to extract timeless entrepreneurial lessons.

Early Career of Steve Jobs

  • Steve Jobs was in his 20s and still with Apple, before his eventual ousting.
  • At this time, the future trajectory of Apple was still uncertain.

"Steve Jobs had not been kicked out of Apple yet. He's still in his 20s. We don't know what Apple is going to turn into."

This quote emphasizes the uncertainty surrounding Apple's future and Steve Jobs' role within the company at that time.

Transition of Michael Moritz

  • Michael Moritz transitioned from journalism to venture capitalism.
  • His success in investing in technology companies made him a billionaire.

"Michael Moritz, he winds up after that book, he winds up transitioning from a journalist and a reporter to a venture capitalist."

The quote highlights Michael Moritz's career change which led to significant financial success in the tech industry.

Steve Jobs' Wilderness Years

  • The period between Jobs' exit from Apple and his return is referred to as his "wilderness years."
  • Jobs made several poor decisions during this time, which are documented as cautionary tales.

"These are known and referenced as Steve Jobs wilderness years."

This quote refers to the timeframe in which Steve Jobs was not part of Apple and was making questionable choices in his professional life.

Importance of Talent in Startups

  • Steve Jobs emphasized the importance of high talent levels in the early stages of a company.
  • A small company is more affected by the quality of its hires compared to a larger one.

"Steve talks over and over again about how important it is to make sure you have the highest talent level, especially at the beginning of your company."

The quote underscores the critical nature of hiring talented individuals in the formative phase of a company as per Steve Jobs' perspective.

Hiring Mistakes by Steve Jobs

  • Steve Jobs made significant hiring mistakes, such as hiring an interior designer for his office among the first ten hires at NeXT.

"Steve Jobs, one of the first ten hires at next, had nothing to a software, nothing to a hardware. He hired an interior designer for his office."

This quote illustrates a specific poor hiring decision made by Steve Jobs, showcasing that even successful entrepreneurs can make glaring mistakes.

Continuous Learning and Growth

  • Revisiting books and podcasts is crucial as personal growth over time allows for new insights.
  • Knowledge and understanding compound over time, similar to financial compounding.

"The book stays the same. The podcast stays the same, but you change as a person."

The quote emphasizes the value of re-engaging with content as personal development can lead to new interpretations and learning.

Steve Jobs and Pixar

  • Steve Jobs' first billion was made from Pixar, not Apple.
  • He invested heavily in Pixar before it was profitable, demonstrating his patience and belief in his team.

"Steve Jobs became a billionaire not from Apple. The first time he became a billionaire was from Pixar."

This quote highlights the fact that Steve Jobs' initial financial success came from his investment in Pixar rather than his work at Apple.

Founders Podcast Preparation

  • The podcast preparation involves extensive reading and is highly demanding.
  • The host has read numerous books on Steve Jobs and related topics to provide comprehensive content.

"Before I sit down to talk to you, I have to read an entire book."

The quote reveals the rigorous preparation process the host undergoes to provide in-depth analysis and discussion on the podcast.

Unique Perspectives of Steve Jobs

  • Steve Jobs had unique ideas and perspectives that set Apple apart from other technology companies.
  • Insights into these ideas are shared by those who worked closely with Jobs.

"There's nobody else that thinks like Apple."

This quote captures the distinctive mindset and approach that Steve Jobs applied to his work at Apple, as observed by a collaborator.

Creative Selection and Apple's Design Process

  • The book "Creative Selection" provides an insider view of Apple's design process under Steve Jobs.
  • It contains valuable insights from a programmer who worked on significant projects like the iPhone's first keyboard and the Safari browser.

"It's called creative selection inside Apple's design process during the golden age of Steve Jobs."

The quote introduces a book that offers a detailed look into the creative processes at Apple during Steve Jobs' tenure.

Johnny Ive and Steve Jobs

  • Johnny Ive's biography sheds light on his close working relationship with Steve Jobs.
  • Steve Jobs highly valued Ive, which is evident from his significant salary and autonomy at Apple.

"Johnny Ive, the genius behind Apple's greatest products."

This quote refers to the biography of Johnny Ive, highlighting his role in creating some of Apple's most successful products and his unique relationship with Steve Jobs.

Creativity, Inc. and Steve Jobs' Influence

  • "Creativity, Inc." is a book by Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, detailing his experiences and managerial expertise.
  • The book includes a section on Steve Jobs, providing insights into his character and influence at Pixar.

"Creativity, Inc. Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration."

The quote introduces a book that includes perspectives on Steve Jobs' influence and contributions to Pixar's success.

Broader Impact of Steve Jobs

  • Several books and podcasts discuss Steve Jobs' impact on the tech industry and company founders.
  • These resources offer a comprehensive understanding of Jobs' legacy and methodologies.

"There's a series of other books I'm going to tell you about that have to do with a person that worked very closely with Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs."

This quote sets up the introduction of additional resources that explore Steve Jobs' extensive impact on individuals and the broader technology sector.

Steve Jobs' Influences and Mentors

  • Steve Jobs was influenced by a variety of visionaries and leaders across different industries.
  • Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid, was a significant influence on Steve Jobs and Apple.
  • Other notable influences include Bob Noyce and Andy Grove, co-founders of Intel, Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, Akio Morita, founder of Sony, and Walt Disney.
  • Steve Jobs admired J. Robert Oppenheimer's approach to team building and talent selection.
  • The importance of learning from and giving credit to one's influences is highlighted.

"Steve's in there a lot. And a lot of Steve's heroes are in there as well."

This quote emphasizes the presence of Steve Jobs and his heroes in the digital revolution narrative, indicating his admiration for other great thinkers and innovators.

"The most important person, I would study all these people because they're also very formidable individuals in their own right. But the person that has the single largest influence on apple is this guy I didn't know who didn't know about him right before I started doing this project. His name is Edwin Land."

This quote introduces Edwin Land as the most significant influence on Steve Jobs and Apple, highlighting the importance of understanding the contributions of key individuals in technology.

"Steve got to meet him. Edwin Land, at the time, was, like, in his 70s. Steve was in his. Edwin Land was like visiting a shrine."

The quote indicates the profound respect Steve Jobs had for Edwin Land, equating meeting him to a religious experience, which shows the depth of influence Land had on Jobs.

"I was shocked how many ideas I had thought I had learned from Steve Jobs, that he just learned, that he literally regurgitated and learned from Edwin Land."

This quote reveals that many of Steve Jobs' ideas, which were thought to be original, were actually adopted from Edwin Land, highlighting the importance of acknowledging one's sources of inspiration.

"Bob Noyce, Andy Grove. So number eight, episode number eight, the intel Trinity, how Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, Andy Grove built the world's most important company."

This quote lists Bob Noyce and Andy Grove as mentors to Steve Jobs and introduces a resource detailing their contributions to Intel and the tech industry.

"Nolan Bushnell is Steve Job, one of Steve Jobs mentors. He was the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese."

The quote identifies Nolan Bushnell as another mentor to Steve Jobs, signifying the influence of early tech and entertainment pioneers on Jobs' career.

"Walt Disney is another huge influence on Steve Jobs. He loved his dedication to the quality of his product, innovation, and more importantly, that he built a company to last."

This quote highlights Walt Disney as an inspiration for Steve Jobs, particularly in terms of product quality, innovation, and building a lasting company.

"Another person from history that might surprise you that Steve Jobs studied and learned from was J. Robert Oppenheimer."

The quote introduces J. Robert Oppenheimer as an unexpected influence on Steve Jobs, showing Jobs' broad range of interests and his emphasis on assembling talented teams.

Books on Steve Jobs and His Influences

  • The transcript mentions several books that provide insights into Steve Jobs and his influences.
  • Books include biographies, company histories, and autobiographies of individuals who shaped Steve Jobs' thinking and approach to business.
  • The books serve as resources for understanding the development of Steve Jobs' philosophy and the history of the tech industry.

"And then the other one is another example book on Steve Jobs and several other technology company founders is number two eight in the company of giants. Candid conversations with visionaries in digital world."

This quote introduces a book that features interviews with Steve Jobs and other tech founders, suggesting it as a resource for learning from these visionaries.

"So I read insisting on the impossible life of Edwin Land. My opinion, the best biography of Edwin Land. And then instant the story of Polaroid."

The quote recommends two books on Edwin Land, providing perspectives on his life and the history of Polaroid, which are crucial for understanding his influence on Steve Jobs.

"Number 166, the man behind the microchip, Robert Noyce and the invention of Silicon Valley."

This quote suggests a biography of Robert Noyce as a valuable resource for learning about one of Steve Jobs' mentors and the origins of Silicon Valley.

"Number 158, Walt Disney. And the invention of the amusement park that changed the world."

The quote points to a book about Walt Disney focusing on the creation of Disneyland, which influenced Steve Jobs' vision for Apple and his emphasis on innovation and company longevity.

Steve Jobs' Philosophy and Business Approach

  • Steve Jobs' philosophy combined the appreciation for great ideas, innovation, and building companies with enduring value.
  • His business approach was influenced by a commitment to product quality and the importance of nurturing talent.
  • The transcript underscores the significance of mentorship and learning from successful individuals in shaping one's own path.

"Picasso had a saying, good artists copy, great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."

This famous quote by Steve Jobs reflects his philosophy of embracing and building upon great ideas, acknowledging the fine line between inspiration and originality.

"I'm not worried about money, not worried about any of that. I want to build. My goal was to build insanely great products and to build a company that will last."

This quote captures Steve Jobs' focus on product excellence and his ambition to create a company that endures beyond his own tenure, similar to the legacies of his influences like Walt Disney.

"He said he learned from J. Robert Oppenheimer the importance of only having the most talented people on your team, that you have to be ruthless in the level of talent."

Steve Jobs took lessons from J. Robert Oppenheimer about the critical nature of team composition, emphasizing the need for exceptional talent to achieve extraordinary results.

Influence of Historical Figures and Entrepreneurs

  • Historical figures provide valuable insights and lessons for modern entrepreneurs.
  • Entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Henry Ford serve as role models, influencing the approach and strategies of current business leaders.
  • Steve Jobs was influenced by Henry Ford's simplicity in the Model T and applied similar principles to the Macintosh.
  • Learning from the successes and failures of past entrepreneurs can significantly impact one's own business trajectory.

"Henry Ford, another one of Steve Jobs heroes, one of my favorite entrepreneurs. I've read five different books on Henry Ford. When Jobs is building the Macintosh, he's in his early 20s. He's saying he wanted to make it as simple as Henry Ford's model t."

This quote highlights how Steve Jobs admired Henry Ford and sought to emulate the simplicity of the Model T in designing the Macintosh. It shows the direct impact historical figures can have on the vision and design philosophy of modern entrepreneurs.

The Value of Biographies in Learning

  • Biographies are a rich source of mentorship and learning for entrepreneurs.
  • Successful individuals like Charlie Munger and Elon Musk have read numerous biographies, suggesting a correlation between learning from others' experiences and achieving success.
  • Biographies provide context and understanding of the challenges faced when creating groundbreaking products.
  • The study of biographies can be seen as a high-value activity that contributes to the development of business acumen.

"Steve Jobs says they had a heavy, heavy influence on him was the HP way, which was Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett... Just so happens that Dave Packard wrote a biography, and he titled it the HP Way."

This quote emphasizes the profound impact that the culture and management style of HP, as described in Dave Packard's biography, had on Steve Jobs. It demonstrates how deep understanding of another company's ethos can influence one's own business practices.

The Role of Mentorship in Entrepreneurship

  • Mentorship can come from direct relationships or by studying the lives of others.
  • Role models such as Edwin Land and Alexander Graham Bell provided a blueprint for innovation in their respective fields.
  • Evan Spiegel, founder of Snapchat, modeled his approach after studying Steve Jobs and Edwin Land, showcasing the tangible value of historical mentorship.
  • The concept of building upon the ideas of predecessors is common among history's greatest entrepreneurs.

"I read a biography of Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, and I was shocked because when he's in his early 20s, he's saying, hey, I want to build a company, and I want to model it after my two heroes. And he said his two heroes was Edmund Land and Steve Jobs."

The relevance of this quote lies in illustrating how Evan Spiegel, like Steve Jobs before him, looked to past innovators as models for his own entrepreneurial journey. It underscores the continuity of inspiration and the cyclical nature of innovation.

Charisma and Personal Development

  • Charismatic individuals can influence and inspire others, which is a powerful tool for leaders.
  • Steve Jobs's own development of charisma was influenced by his interactions with Robert Friedland.
  • The transformation of personal attributes can be critical to the success of an entrepreneur.

"Steve starts becoming more charismatic and understanding the influence that charisma can have on other humans around you."

This quote explains the transformation Steve Jobs underwent in developing his charisma, which was partly influenced by Robert Friedland. It underscores the importance of personal growth and the development of leadership qualities in entrepreneurship.

Lifelong Learning and Continuous Improvement

  • Continuous learning and self-improvement are common traits among successful entrepreneurs.
  • Despite busy schedules, individuals like Elon Musk still dedicate time to reading and learning.
  • The act of reading biographies and learning from history is not only for knowledge but also serves as a tool for strategic thinking and problem-solving.

"How many other people do you know that are busier than Elon Musk, for God's sake? And this guy still takes time and spends time reading biographies."

The significance of this quote is that it highlights the commitment to lifelong learning, even among the busiest and most successful individuals like Elon Musk. It suggests that the practice of reading and learning from biographies is a valuable investment of time for anyone seeking success.

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