I was never a huge Steve Jobs fan, but over the weekend I found myself reading the special issue of Business Week devoted to Steve’s life. Although he could be a polarizing figure, there’s no doubt that he was one of the most, if not the most, innovative and influential business leader of our generation. If you haven’t yet, I’d encourage you to pick up the Business Week issue devoted exclusively to him.
In that issue, I came across three ideas that I’d like to share with you. These pretty much speak for themselves, so I won’t comment much on them. The first talks about the role of the leader in an organization, particularly the CEO. Jobs said, “Great companies must have a noble cause. Then it’s the leader’s job to transform that noble cause into such an inspiring vision that it will attract the most talented people in the world to want to join it.” Cause, vision, talented people. In that order. Wise advice.
Second, one of Jobs’ colleagues had this to say about him, “But Jobs also attracted the best people and motivated them to be better than their best, rallying teams to work in a harmony they may never find elsewhere in their careers. He remains my archetype for the charismatic visionary leader, with his life’s song forever part of Apple.” Attracting people, motivating them, getting them to work together. More wise advice.
Third, a quote from his commencement speech at the 2005 Stanford Graduation, “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.” Take risks, don’t hold back. Only one life to live. Don’t end up with regrets.