“I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year…. It’s very character-building.” – Steve Jobs
When we remember Steve Jobs, we tend to remember the successful parts of his legacy: the founding of Apple in 1976, the invention of the iPhone in 2007, and his investment in Pixar in the mid-1980s, an investment that would change movies forever.
Jobs’ work is legendary; he changed the way we listen to music, talk on the phone, entertain ourselves.
Yet, in between the inventions that made Jobs a demigod was a man who had as many business failures as successes.
A look at those failings displays how endurance and ingenuity–combined with an unfailing belief in one’s work–can lead to legendary success.
Jobs was a college drop-out, his parents unable to afford tuition at Reed College. Still, he continued to sit-in on classes out of interest rather than requirement, even picking up calligraphy, a skill he would later use to create multiple typefaces for the Mac.
Jobs was fired from Apple in 1985 and later recalled: “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
When he returned to the company in 1996, Apple was an unprofitable company with several failed reinventions since Jobs’ departure. The next 15 years were perhaps the most innovative in Apple’s history and saw the creation of iTunes, the iPhone and iPad, the MacBook and flat-panel iMac. By 2010, Apple had worldwide sales of $65.23 billion.
In the quote at beginning of this blog, Jobs was referring to the volatility of Apple stocks. Jobs was only paid $1 per year as CEO of Apple; it was through his Apple and Disney stock holdings that his net worth became about $8 billion.
If Jobs considered every dip in the stock market a sign of his demise, if he settled for projects he didn’t believe in, or worked with those who didn’t share his vision, it seems unlikely Jobs would have changed our world the way he did.
So thank you, Steve Jobs.
Not only for the innumerable ways you brought technology to the everyman, but for sticking through the lows points to get to the high. For sharing your successes and admitting your failures to a world of people with dreams that sometimes seem too grandiose to come true. Your time of inventing gadgets might have ended with your death, but your legacy will continue to inspire for years to come.
As Jobs said, “The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.”