Steve Jobs Biography – On Motivation

Reading the book is an inspiring experience. Among many things about Jobs that fascinate me, four of them made me think the most: motivation, innovation, being at the intersection of liberal arts and technology, and building a team of A-players.

On Motivation:

Personal ambition certainly was one factor: in his twenties, “Jobs confided in Sculley that he believed he would die young, and therefore he needed to accomplish things quickly so that he would make his mark on Silicon Valley history.”

The more sustaining and lasting driving force was that he loved what he did: “The older I get, the more I see how much motivations matter. The Zune was crappy because the people at Microsoft don’t really like music or art the way we do. We won because we personally love music. We made the iPod for ourselves, and when you’re doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family, you’re not going to cheese out. If you don’t love something, you’re not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much.”

As he fell ill and started contemplating mortality, leaving a legacy to the society was an even bigger drive: “What drove me? I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done before us. I didn’t invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow. It’s about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know how– because we can’t write Bob Dylan songs or Tom Stoppard plays. We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That’s what has driven me.”

Seeing how his thought evolves over ages makes me start to reflect what mine is and will be.

Published by

Wendong Wang

A chemist who blogs

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