Steve Jobs was a true genius who could simplify complex ideas into quotes that will stand the test of time. Jobs spent his life pursuing technology to benefit the world, first at Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), then at Pixar and NeXT, and finally back at Apple, making it into the company we know today. While we only got to see his passion at a few events a year, Jobs made his moments in the spotlight count, leaving the world with a plethora of wisdom to ponder since his death in 2011.
Read on for Steve Jobs' best quotes on life, creativity, innovation, and business, along with his top five insights.
1. "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
2. "My favorite things in life don't cost any money. It's really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time."
3. "One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are."
4. "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."
5. "For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
6. "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."
7. "Things don't have to change the world to be important."
8. "I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life."
Creativity, design, and innovation
1. "Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works."
2. "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."
3. "Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations."
4. "Older people sit down and ask, 'What is it?' but the boy asks, 'What can I do with it?' "
5. "People think focus means saying yes to the thing that you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully."
6. "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."
7. "And it [innovation] comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We're always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important."
1. "Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That's true for companies and it's true for products."
2. "If you keep your eye on the profit, you're going to skimp on the product. But if you focus on making really great products, then the profits will follow."
3. "Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles."
4. "Ultimately, it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things into what you're doing. Picasso had a saying: good artists copy, great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas, and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world."
5. "The system is that there is no system. That doesn't mean we don't have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that's not what it's about. Process makes you more efficient."
Top five insights
What a computer is to me is the most remarkable tool that we have ever come up with. It's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.
From an early age, Jobs truly grasped the amazing power of computers. He used that passion and innate belief to drive himself and others to create game-changing products in categories that others had given up on, improving billions of peoples' lives and driving the whole technology industry to be better.
That's been one of my mantras -- focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
While many other greats have talked about the power of focus, Jobs constantly strove to make simplicity the core of Apple in a world that gravitates to complexity, giving the company an advantage over all others in a massively competitive space.
Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.
While Jobs got this and entrepreneurs around the world get this, many people misunderstand this. Many people have said that Apple should use its tens of billions to "ramp up innovation." Innovation doesn't work that way. The recipe to Apple's success has always been understanding customers' needs better than any other company, empowering small groups of people to do great work, obsessively pursuing perfection in design, and maintaining a singular focus that precludes all distractions.
When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. ... Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.
Jobs understood the power of a growth mindset before there were psychology studies to back him up. You can watch a video of Steve Jobs talking about the secret of a successful life here.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Like other greats, Steve Jobs realized time is our most valuable resource and strove to use it as best he could. Jobs first had this insight when he was 17, and he shared it with the world in 2005 at the Stanford University commencement address, six years before his death. In those six years, Jobs sold Pixar to Disney (NYSE:DIS), which saved Disney Animation Studios, revolutionized the smartphone industry with the iPhone, revolutionized mobile computing with the MacBook Air and iPad, and set the foundations for Apple to continue to succeed without him.
We all make decisions about how to use our money, time, focus, and energy every single day. The most successful people treat each of those as assets and use them as effectively as they can.
One more thing...
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Hopefully you may pick up a nugget of wisdom or two from the 25 best Steve Jobs quotes. Committing yourself to a lifetime of wonder and exploration is the best advice you can take from this visionary.
Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak, on his Facebook page DanDzombak, or on his blog where he writes about investing, happiness, the secret to success in life, what is success in life, the best business books of all time, the NY Lottery, and the Fortune 500. He has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), International Business Machines, and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.