Make Something Wonderful, by Steve Jobs

Make Something Wonderful is a book published by the Steve Jobs Archive. It’s a collection of Steve Jobs’ speeches, interviews, and emails.

I liked the book very much. Most people consider Jobs’ most disruptive moment the launch of the iPhone. However, it’s easy to forget that after being fired from Apple, Jobs was CEO of both Next and Pixar. In both companies, he had to change business models several times and make difficult decisions. Back at Apple as CEO, where he had to bring the company back to life, he continued to be CEO of Pixar until its acquisition by Disney in 2006. In those years, Pixar produced Toy Story (1995), A Bug’s Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), and Cars (2006).

Another interesting thing is that although in many speeches and interviews, Steve talks about following your passion and working on what you love, his writings and emails reveal a structured mind: his attention to detail, the importance he gave to process, his clarity about the right mix of technology and design, and the time he spent hiring the best talent he could find. I would say that he had the talent to become passionate about the things he decided to do and not the other way around.

There are lot of delightful quotes about creativity and exploration. For example:

To be a creative person, you need to “feed” or “invest” in yourself by exploring uncharted paths that are outside the realm of your past experience. Seek out new dimensions of yourself—especially those that carry a romantic scent.

But one has no way of knowing which of these paths will lead anywhere in advance. That’s the wonderful thing about it, in a way. The only thing one can do is to believe that some of what you follow with your heart will indeed come back to make your life much richer. And it will. And you will gain an ever firmer trust in your instincts and intuition.

When asked about how he motivated people, Steve’s answer was that motivation came from doing work that was worth the effort:

I think that—ultimately, it’s the work that motivates people. I sometimes wish it were me, but it’s not. It’s the work. My job is to make sure the work is as good as it should be and to get people to stretch beyond their best. But it’s ultimately the work that motivates people. That’s what binds them together.


So, in the end, it’s the work that binds. That’s why it’s so important to pick very important things to do because it’s very hard to get people motivated to make a breakfast cereal. It takes something that’s worth doing.

One quote from the first pages of the book…

The journey is the reward. People think that you’ve made it when you’ve gotten to the end of the rainbow and got the pot of gold. But they’re wrong. The reward is in the crossing the rainbow. That’s easy for me to say—I got the pot of gold (literally). But if you get to the pot of gold, you already know that that’s not the reward, and you go looking for another rainbow to cross.

…and another one from the last pages:

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact—and that is: 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.

And the minute you can understand that you can poke life, and if you push in, then something will pop out the other side; that you can change it, you can mold it—that’s maybe the most important thing: to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there, and you’re just going to live in it versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important, and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better. Because it’s kind of messed up in a lot of ways.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

Steve Jobs Apple Pixar

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