Steve Jobs was one of the most ruthless, determined and prolific innovators of our time. He had immense clarity about what he was setting out to achieve, and what change he wanted to make in the world, and this was the source of his inspiration. While he was a perfectionist and intimidatingly disciplined, he was also a profound creative, with many pearls of wisdom on how to (in his words) make 'a dent in the universe'.
1. "Good artists copy, great artists steal."
Ironically, Jobs stole this quote from Picasso and used it to remind us that there is no such thing as a new idea; just an idea that is new to a particular context. Great artists look to other categories for inspiration, and willingly steal ideas they find there and plant them on their own category. Jobs, for example, got the inspiration for the iMac colors after a visit to a candy factory.
2. "I'm as proud of many of the things we haven't done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things."
Sacrifice is a great art. It goes without saying that if you focus on too many things, you'll do none of them well. When Jobs came back to the helm of Apple in 1997, he slashed the pipeline from over 500 products, to just 4 - one was the Imac, another the ibook.
3. "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become."
Your intuition is a powerful force, especially in times of doubt. Jobs knew how to tap into it, and trust it, even when his fortunes took a tumble.
4. "The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
Innovation requires audacity to things differently. Jobs took inspiration from the prodigious, inspired, quirky creators that came before him. He created a manifesto to honor their genius, and kept that front and center as he continued to drive Apple to success.
5. "I'm convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance."
Jobs knew that perseverance was everything - and his own personal story is the ultimate testament to this. Not only did he know how to keep his drive and determination, he was not too proud to accept a position that would bring him back into Apple. Many people in that instance would be driven by their ego and turn down the opportunity on principle.
6. "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."
There's genius in acting like a fool and experimenting and exploring opportunities that others may overlook. This, combined with ambition means you're constantly scouring for opportunities and finding ideas and inspiration that the others miss.
7. "You've got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology - not the other way around."
Technology should be all about humanity. It's not about designing technology and then figuring out the human application. It has to start by solving a human need and addressing a pain point - even if that pain point is not yet apparent to consumers.
8. "It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."
As most innovators will tell you, you cant wait for a consumer to tell you what to make - you'll end up with a watered down product that no-one even wants by the time you've made it. You have to collect insight from all different places, connect your own dots and use it to fuel your inner innovator.