The Top 12 Business Lessons I Learned from Steve Jobs

August 22, 2011

Interviews, Secrets to Success

UPDATE: Since I posted this, Steve has resigned as CEO of Apple. So sad, but Steve’s health takes priority over everything else.

UPDATE #2: On October 5th, 2011, Steve Jobs’s health problems unfortunately got the best of him. He passed away of pancreatic cancer. I will be posting a tribute to him soon.

Steve, you will be sorely missed. You’re a brilliant man, and taught us how to “Think Different.” You made a GREAT and POSITIVE impact on not only the computer world, but also the entertainment world. You pushed the human race forward, and I want to thank you for that. You have definitely put a “ding in the Universe,” as you so eloquently expressed to be your foremost desire.

I dedicate one of your own commercials…your best one…to you.


And here is a remix of that commercial devoted to you and your work. Thanks for rocking our world, Steve!


Here’s my review of a great interview with Steve Jobs conducted by All Things Digital:

I recently watched a really great interview with Steve Jobs that was conducted at the D8 – All Things Digital conference. You really get to peek inside his head and discover his core values for his business in this interview.

The main core value of Apple is to “build the best products for people.” He kept on saying that over and over throughout the interview, and he said it with such passion. It was great. It’s the foundation for the company. I love it when entrepreneurs display their passion for their values and their company. It shows that it’s not about the money for them. It’s about their vision for their business and what they stand for.

Another thing that I was really intrigued about was that Steve said that Apple is the “largest startup company in the world.” What he meant by that is that Apple is still structured as a startup. What does that mean? Well it means that is is an “incredibly collaborative company.” There are no committees. They have one person in charge of each department, and they trust that “their team will come through with their parts.”

I agree with setting up a company this way, and it’s not just because Apple is highly successful and that’s what they do. I just feel that the whole corporate structure is outdated and does not work in today’s society. People are tired of working for corporations that treat their employees like a number, and that don’t listen to them or their ideas. People want to feel that they are a part of something big, and that they are contributing and making a difference in the company.

Eben Pagan, a very successful Internet marketer, says that great people work for impact, not for money. They want to be involved with a company that is going to make a substantial difference in the world. They are not in it for the cash, because they have such talent, they can make great money no matter where they work. I agree 100%.

In the interview, Steve also explains what he does all day…what his day as CEO of Apple is like. I’m sure you want to know that, right? What does one of the most highly successful CEO’s in the world do all day? What does he do with his time? You’ll have to watch the interview to find out.

Here are 10 more things you will find out by watching this interview:

  1. Why Steve would have rather QUIT than let the whole Gizmodo / stolen iPhone 4 prototype issue slide
  2. What are the 3 main reasons why Apple disapproves apps for the app store
  3. Why HTML5 is better than Flash
  4. Why Steve believes personal computers will eventually “be like trucks” (meaning not many people will have one)
  5. Why Apple is going into the Advertising business (it’s probably not the reason you think)
  6. Where people are spending most of their time when using the iPad
  7. Why mobile ads are great for the advertiser, publisher, and end user
  8. How Apple protects the privacy of their users (much respect, Steve!)
  9. What Steve would like to do with his commencement speech that he made to Stanford in 2005
  10. What was wrong with the music industry before the digital download era

And here are the Top 12 Business Lessons that I learned, or that I already knew but were reinforced for me, from watching Steve in this interview:

Business Lesson #1

Steve: We focus on developing GREAT products for people (it’s Apple’s core value) and they let us know how we are doing by voting with their wallet

Business Lesson: Always focus on delivering the best product or service possible, and the market will let you know how you are doing by buying (or not buying) your product or service

Business Lessons #2 & #3

Steve: You can save a lot of time and energy if you “choose the correct horses to ride” (referring to why he chose to go with HTML5 instead of supporting Flash with the iPhone and iPad; read Steve’s full article, Thoughts on Flash, that he wrote back in April 2010)

1st Business Lesson: Focus on a few great products and be the best at using them, instead of trying to please everyone, spreading yourself too thin, and not really being a master at anything

2nd Business Lesson: Team up with products whose business graphs are going up, not down

Business Lesson #4

Steve: Price things aggressively and go for volume (referring to software and content)

Business Lesson: If you want to dine with the classes, you have to sell to the masses (and price things accordingly!)

Business Lesson #5

Steve: People are willing to pay for content on the Internet (iTunes)

Business Lesson: There will be times where you will have an idea and people will say, “How could that possibly work? People aren’t going to buy that! They can get that for free!” But the only way you’ll find out if something will work is to TEST it, like a good marketer and entrepreneur always should be doing. Don’t try to THINK what the masses will do, FIND OUT by TESTING on a small scale. If it works, SCALE IT UP and make BANK!

Business Lesson #6

Steve: We started with the iPad FIRST. But then I realized we could make a phone out of the touchscreen technology we had developed, and we decided to go with that first and shelve the iPad until we “got our breath back” from the launch of the iPhone.

[Brilliant business choice since the iPhone accounts for almost 50% of their revenue! (46.6% to be exact)]

Business Lesson: ALWAYS be flexible enough to change your plans along the way, no matter how much time, effort, and focus you have put into the development of a certain product/service. If it makes better business sense to change plans, DO IT!

Business Lesson #7

Steve: Personal computers are going to be like trucks. They are still going to be around, but not many people are going to have them (watch the interview to see why Steve believes that)

Business Lesson: Always be focused on where things are going in your industry and plan accordingly

Business Lesson #8

Steve: We get 10,000 – 20,000 apps submitted to us each week, and we approve 95% of them within 7 days (Impressive!)

Business Lesson: Have things set up in your business to be ready to handle your success

Business Lesson #9

Steve: We originally disapproved of a political cartoon app because we had one rule: “You can’t defame people” [which I really admire]. However, that was one consequence of that rule that we did not see coming. So we made political cartoons the one exception.

Business Lesson: Always be willing to change the rules.

Business Lesson #10

Steve: We make mistakes along the way, and we fix them as fast as we can.

Business Lesson: You see, even the most successful companies in the world make a fair amount of mistakes. So don’t let making mistakes stop you from achieving your dreams. It is part of the process, and always will be no matter how successful you get.

Business Lesson #11

Steve: If you want to hire great people, you have to let them make a lot of the decisions.

Business Lesson: You must be willing to let your employees/team members make a lot of the decisions. People work best in an autonomous environment (check out the book “Drive” by Dan Pink for more on that). That’s how you hire and KEEP great people. Otherwise, they will not feel as if they are part of the team, nor will they feel like they are making a difference in the company, let alone the world. They’ll feel more like a puppet in a controlled environment in which they have no say. Consequently, they will jump ship and go to a company that does have an autonomous environment where they and the company will thrive.

Business Lesson #12

Steve: You have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best idea must win, not the “best person” with the most power or seniority.

Business Lesson: In business, you have to be humble and be quick to recognize a great idea, no matter who it comes from. Reiterating what was said in Business Lesson #11 above, if you want to keep great people, you must appreciate their brilliance, use their ideas, and reward them for it.

So those are the top 12 business lessons that I learned by watching Steve Jobs in this interview. I hope you can use some of them to help your business. Comment below and let me know how these ideas have helped you, and feel free to mention any business lessons that you learned from watching this interview.

Watch the interview enjoy!

Steve Jobs at D8 (an All Things Digital Conference) – Full Video


And here is Steve’s brilliant commencement speech that he gave at Stanford in 2005:


Remember to comment on what you learned from either my article or the interview…or both!

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