When it comes to having a creative career, few people can claim to have reached the dizzy heights that Steve Jobs attained in his working life. From college hippy to wealthy innovator, Jobs is often hailed as a maverick that successfully combined desirable design and state of the art technology.
So what can today’s budding creatives take from Steve Jobs’ life? And what inspiration can we glean from his achievements?
1. It Pays to Take Risks
Steve Jobs may have been one of the most successful CEOs of our lifetime, but he also left a legacy as a risk taker. Jobs was more than a business man; he was the creative driving force behind some of Apple’s best products, and many of those products were completely new to the market when he created them.
The iPhone might look normal to us now, but cast your mind back: it redefined a genre in tech. So did the iPod. And even when things didn’t go well at Apple, Jobs took risks with investments, eventually becoming major shareholder at Pixar – now one of the most famous creative powerhouses in the world.
2. Simple Is Good
From his minimalist existence to his interest in Zen Buddhism, Steve Jobs believed in simplicity. His enthusiasm for clean, simple design shines through every product Apple made in his late career. Even the product range itself is based on simplicity: fewer products, less clutter, more beauty.
Jobs’ enthusiasm for simplicity even extended to his home life. Despite owning a $4 million mansion, he reportedly left the door unlocked and never built walls around his garden. Simplicity flowed through his creative instincts, home life and personal choices.
3. Talent Overcomes Technology
When it came to creativity, Jobs had a clear aim in mind: make beautiful, usable products. Not all of his creations were developed for Apple. The NeXTcube was a phenomenally expensive workstation developed for education and business; it is now considered a great example of Jobs’ determination to innovate.
Jobs’ products leave a legacy of creativity that few can equal. Despite owning next to no material goods, he came up with some of the most desirable objects in the early 21st century. Few people in creative jobs could dream of having such a sustained impact on the world, but it’s certainly something to strive for.
4. Focus Is Key
Jobs’ talent for dealing with people is well documented. While he was arguably not the most accommodating leader, he was utterly uncompromising in the way he got things done.
Like many people in creative jobs, Apple’s CEO had an unusual approach, and one that probably wouldn’t be tolerated in a normal corporate setting. But it was his unflinching commitment to the cause that made him unique – and eventually resulted in Apple becoming the biggest brand in the world.
5. Setbacks Open Doors
For Steve, it could have been over by the time he was 30 years old. Fired from the company he founded, he was faced with channeling his creativity into other employment and working on other businesses.
For some people, this kind of a public shaming would have been the end of the road. For Jobs, it was an opportunity. In fact, Jobs later claimed that being shown the door at Apple was the best thing that could have happened to him.
Thinking Like Jobs
Creative professionals continue to draw inspiration from Jobs’ famous quote: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish”. Throughout his life, Jobs never lost his desire to “make a dent in the universe”, and that may be his enduring legacy – something we can all reflect on.
Sam Wright is a journalist working with Brand Republic.