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As we kick off the New Year, leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners are looking for new and innovative ways to grow their brands. Who better to turn to than one of the most innovative leaders of our time—Apple CEO Steve Jobs?  

Reality is malleable

When you grow up you get told that the world is the way it is. And your job is to live your life inside of the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Have a nice family life. Save a little money. But that is a very limited life. Life can be much broader when you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. You can change it. You can influence it. You can build things that other people can use.You can poke life and something will pop out of the other side. You can change it. You can mold it. That is maybe the most important thing. To shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you are just going to live in it. Embrace it. Change it. Improve it. Make your mark on it. Once you learn that you will never be the same again.

Act

I’ve never found anybody that didn’t want to help me if I asked them for help.I called up Bill Hewlett when I was 12 years old. He answered the phone himself. I told him I wanted to build a frequency counter. I asked if he had any spare parts I could have. He laughed. He gave me the parts. And he gave me a summer job at HP working on the assembly line putting together frequency counters. I have never found anyone who said no, or hung up the phone. I just ask. Most people never pick up the phone and call. And that is what separates the people who do things, versus the people who just dream about them. You have to act.

Something to lose?

When we started Apple we had absolutely nothing to lose. And we had everything to gain. We figured if we crashed and burned — the experience would be worth 10 times the costs. I think that is a very healthy way to look at it.

Time is our greatest asset

The only thing you really have in your life is time. If you invest that time in yourself —to have great experiences that will enrich you— then you can’t possibly lose.

Role models

There is an entrepreneurial risk culture in Silicon Valley. Role models are a very big part. . . Starting with Hewlett-Packard. . . Steve Wozniak worked at Hewlett-Packard when we started Apple. Hewlett-Packard was the primary role model in the valley. It was the model for how you wanted to build your company. A company based on values —not just based on making money. They had a list of their values called The HP Way. The first one was we need to make a profit or we can’t keep the company going. After that, they had ideas on how to treat individuals and conduct their corporate life. We were very much influenced by that.

The tech industry is a mountain

Working in technology is a very strange business. This is not a field where one paints a painting that will be looked at for centuries. This is a field where one does ones work and in 10 years it is obsolete. It is like sediments of rocks. You are building up a mountain. You get to contribute your little layer of sedimentary rock to make the mountain that much higher. No one on the surface will see your sediment. They’ll stand on it. It will only be appreciated by that rare geologist. 

The magic blue box

Woz and I built the first digital blue box in the world [an illegal device that allowed you to make free long distance calls]. The fact that two teenagers could build a device for $100— and control hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure in the entire telephone network all over the world —that was magical. Experiences like that taught us the power of ideas. If we hadn’t of made blue boxes there would have been no Apple. It gave us confidence and a sense of magic.


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