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My 10 favorite quotes by Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs was the greatest branding genius in corporate history, and he influenced my life in more ways than I can ever know. From his single-minded passion for excellence to his intuitive sense of what people want, he changed the world. He was far from perfect: belligerent, rude and unwilling to admit mistakes. But he changed everything with his unwavering vision that “if computers are so smart, they should be designed to understand people rather than forcing people to understand computers.” One year ago his light was extinguished, but his legacy continues. Here’s a look at 10 of my favorite quotes by this corporate giant.

From his keynote address at Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference, 1997:

People think focus means saying yes to the thing 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… Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

From his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

From The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, 2001:

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

As published in Fortune magazine, 2008:

My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

As published in the Wall Street Journal, 1993:

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful — that’s what matters to me.”

From his keynote address at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference, 1997:

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”

A comment he made in persuading John Sculley to become Apple’s CEO, as quoted in “Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple: A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future” by John Sculley and John A. Byrne, 1987:

Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

From his introduction of the iPhone, as quoted in “Apple unveils cell phone,” Apple TV (9 January 2007):

Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. It’s very fortunate if you can work on just one of these in your career. Apple’s been very fortunate in that it’s introduced a few of these.”

On his famous $1 annual salary, at the annual Apple shareholder meeting in 2007, as quoted by AppleInsider (10 May 2007):

I make 50 cents for showing up… the other 50 cents is based on my performance.”

From his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford:

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.”

From his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford:

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

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George Pytlik

George Pytlik has been involved in the advertising industry for over 30 years and designed his first website when the Internet was one year old. He was an internationally recognized speaker on advertising and branding and served on a number of communication committees at various times throughout his career, as well as writing a regular column for Marketing magazine.

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