Quotes On Steve Jobs

By Max Olson  |  November 22nd, 2011 at 10:38 pm  |  Business, Innovation


After reading Walter Isaacson’s biography and the last few months worth of articles on Steve Jobs, I put together a collection of my favorite quotes about and related to him:

At the company he founded after being ousted from Apple, Jobs was able to indulge all of his instincts, both good and bad. He was unbound. The result was a series of spectacular products that were dazzling market flops. This was the true learning experience. What prepared him for the great success he would have in Act III was not his ouster from his Act I at Apple but his brilliant failures in Act II. – Isaacson (page 219)

It was yet another example of Jobs consciously positioning himself at the intersection of the arts and technology. In all of his products, technology would be married to great design, elegance, human touches, and even romance. – Isaacson (page 41)

Jobs’s interest in Eastern spirituality, Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, and the search for enlightenment was not merely the passing phase of a nineteen-year-old. Throughout his life he would seek to follow many of the basic precepts of Eastern religions, such as the emphasis on experiential prajñā, wisdom or cognitive understanding that is intuitively experienced through concentration of the mind. – Isaacson (page 48)

[Jobs's] reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand.  – Andy Hertzfeld 

The unified field theory that ties together Jobs’s personality and products begins with his most salient trait: his intensity. . . . This intensity encouraged a binary view of the world. Colleagues referred to the hero/shithead dichotomy. You were either one or the other, sometimes on the same day. The same was true of products, ideas, even food: Something was either “the best thing ever,” or it was shitty, brain-dead, inedible. — Isaacson (page 561)

What makes Steve’s methodology different from everyone else’s is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do, but the things you decide not to do. He’s a minimalist. – John Sculley

Jobs’s sensibility was editorial, not inventive. His gift lay in taking what was in front of him—the tablet with stylus—and ruthlessly refining it. – Malcolm Gladwell (The Tweaker)

A genius is a genius, [Dean] Simonton maintains, because he can put together such a staggering number of insights, ideas, theories, random observations, and unexpected connections that he almost inevitably ends up with something great. “Quality,” Simonton writes, is “a probabilistic function of quantity.” — Malcolm Gladwell (Creation Myth)

He was, indeed, an example of what the mathematician Mark Kac called a magician genius, someone whose insights come out of the blue and require intuition more than mere mental processing power. Like a pathfinder, he could absorb information, sniff the winds, and sense what lay ahead. — Isaacson (page 566)

Steve Jobs’s natural talent is to imagine not only what consumers want now but also what they will want in the future — and pay a premium price for. He searches for discontinuities in the external landscape. He figures out trajectories of new opportunities. . . . He figures out precisely what problems need to be solved, however impossible they may seem, and searches for the best people to solve them, regardless of their status. — Fortune (How Steve Jobs gets things done)

Steve Jobs was an enemy of nostalgia. He believed that the future required sacrifice and boldness. He bet on new technologies to fill gaps even when the way was unclear. — Mike Daisey (Against Nostalgia)

That emphasis on consilience, even if it came at the expense of convenience, has always been a defining trait of Steve Jobs. In an age of intellectual fragmentation, Jobs insisted that the best creations occurred when people from disparate fields were connected together, when our distinct ways of seeing the world were brought to bear on a singular problem. — Jonah Lehrer (Technology Alone is Not Enough)

The nasty edge to his personality was not necessary. It hindered him more than it helped him. But it did, at times, serve a purpose. Polite and velvety leaders, who take care to avoid bruising others, are generally not as effective at forcing change. — Isaacson (page 565)

(* I put together the above image as a compilation of WSJ hedcuts of Jobs, mostly from this blog.)

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