Steve Jobs : 10 Characteristic Traits That Made Him

I am not a Apple fan and I always thought that Steve Jobs is overrated. I used to think of him as just a poster boy who is really good at presenting.

Steve Jobs biography by Walter Issacson changed my views. It made me see how Job's vision and passion drove the innovation at Apple. Apple has been a pioneer in technology and the features that we take for granted in current day smartphones, GUI on computers(originally Xerox's idea), digital music revolution are all result of Job's vision.

Yes, Apple hasn't been doing great after Steve Jobs demise.
Yes, Jobs was extremely rude(understating) to even the best people in his life and at Apple.
But all these factors can no way undermine the amazing contributions of Jobs and Apple to the world.

I realize now that my views of Jobs as just someone who is good at presenting is the most absurd thing.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs

Following are his characteristic traits that made him and Apple.


He was a visionary who could think so much ahead. When companies were going by customer requirements, Jobs had the audacity to come up with this - "Customers don’t know what they want, until we’ve shown them". Apple came up with the most intuitive UI for iphone when the companies were trying to improve qwerty keypads in phones. Introducing multi-touch, scrolling, pinching to zoom and many other features on iphone, Apple made the keypads obsolete.

"Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’”People don’t know what they want until you show it to them."

The best way to predict the future is to invent it

“Skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been"

Reality distortion:

Imagining what could be the new product which customers haven't dreamed of was just the first step. The subsequent tougher steps in convincing everyone at Apple that they could do it and do it in a short timeline(whatever deadlines Jobs wanted), fighting with the board members to take a risky step, exciting the users and building the buzz using media are some stunts which probably only Jobs could pull off.
The way he did this was using his "reality distortion field" - believing that something impossible can be done by distorting his own reality and then by convincing everyone else that they can do it by distorting their reality.

"If you act like you can do something, then it will work. Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are."

"When Jobs did not want to deal with a distraction, he sometimes just ignored it, as if he could will it out of existence."

"He had the attitude that he could do anything, and therefore so can you. You did the impossible, because you didn’t realize it was impossible."

“In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he’s not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules.”

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."

Jobs had "charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand". He could "turn charm into a cunning force, to cajole and intimidate and distort reality with the power of his personality. "

"He had an uncanny ability to always get what he wanted, to size up a person and know exactly what to say to reach a person. Every move seemed calculated, as if it was rehearsed, to create an occasion of the moment."

Ruthlessness : 

Jobs is famous for not mincing any words in giving feedback, even when he knows how hard someone has worked on something. He was ruthless in cutting down the B-players. He practiced and mastered staring without blinking and often exercised it on people in an intimidating way.

"Knowing that he can crush you makes you feel weakened and eager for his approval, so then he can elevate you and put you on a pedestal and own you. After tearing people down, he would find ways to lift them up and make them feel part of the amazing mission."

Minimal and simple:

Though Jobs wasn't a techie like Steve Wozniak, he had a great intuition for good design. This reflected not just in Apple products but also in his lifestyle. He kept his life and products minimal and simple. His house took a long time to get furnished even with basics like sofa as he mulled over it a lot for years to pick the right one - and dinner table discussions with family included why they need sofa in the first place.
His exposure to Zen Buddhism when he was in India had a great impact on him. He could focus on just one thing and shut down everything else from his mind. He did the same to manage products at Apple - to not have different versions and not to work on different products at a time - which could make Apple to lose it's focus.

In his childhood, Jobs' dad influence him a lot by the way he fixed the automobile parts.
He loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see.”

"Simplicity isn’t just a visual style. It’s not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep."

Less is more.
Real Artists Simplify.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” - Da vinci

Re-inventing : 

Apple didn't stop at Mac and kept re-inventing itself through Ipod, Iphone and Ipad. Jobs ventured into animation through Pixar when he was ousted from Apple. Jobs never retired and kept venturing into new areas - about which even Bill Gates, who slowed down and was more into philanthropy, talked about wistfully.

"You’ve got to be like a butterfly and have a metamorphosis. One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are."

When companies in general would try to secure more market in it's successful product, Apple went to create competition for it's own products : Iphone is a competition for Ipod, Ipad is a competition for Iphone.

"Never be afraid of cannibalizing yourself. If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will."

"As Dylan says, if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying."

Risk : 

Startup companies play it bold and try to take risks in the early stages as they have no huge customer base or reputation to lose. Jobs played it bold always from the time Apple started in his dad's garage till he was CEO. He never tried to play it safe and made Apple to invest hugely in what he believed could be the greatest products. He made bold statements and ads for Apple products even when Apple was a giant company.

Counterculture ideas: 

Jobs wanted Apple products to be a confluence of humanities and technology - they shouldn't just let a user be a consumer, but also a creator.
While his counterculture ideas made him to experiment with drugs, fruit diets, alternative treatments for cancer, it also exposed him to Zen philosophy, music (especially Bob Dylan's), art (calligraphy). These ideas can be seen in his life and Apple products design.

It was as if something in the animal’s body and in its brain had been engineered to work together instantly rather than being learned. People who are serious about software should make their own hardware.

"Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do."
“He believed that great harvests came from arid sources, pleasure from restraint, he knew the Things led to their opposites."


He never hesitated to press “pause”, even if they were nearing completion and make major revisions, if he felt that the product isn't perfect.

"Don’t compromise."

"The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money. It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater."

Ability to see minute details but also not losing the big picture :

While Jobs obsessed over every minor detail in Apple products, he always looked at the big picture too. It's easy to get engrossed in something and lose the overall picture, but Jobs in general took care of everything.

"God is in the details."

While he obsessed over the Mac case color('Not. Fucking. Blue. Enough!!!') and lights on the stage for presentation, he also took care of all the steps involved to sell a product including amazing glass walled Apple stores, Apple product ads filmed multiple times till he was happy with the concept, rehearsing every single move including pauses for product presentations, picking favorable media to make cover stories of Apple.

"Apple sold not a product but a lifestyle and an optimistic outlook."


Above everything else, Jobs loved what he did. He was so passionate about building something great that he often broke into tears in meetings when others would say no to his ideas and try to compromise.  He worried about Apple even when he was very sick with cancer, because he really cared about it.

"The journey is the reward."


Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.


[I have been writing this forever. Finally posted! "Real artists ship" - Jobs :p]


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