Why Did Steve Jobs Follow His Own Advice?

EVERYBODY is linking to the Steve Jobs Stanford speech, and I am, too.

It boils down to this: hardship teaches you to savor things. Don’t waste your life.

Robin Hanson isn’t impressed with the practicality of this advice:

Now try to imagine a world where everyone actually tried to follow this advice. And notice that we have an awful lot of things that need doing which are unlikely to be anyone’s dream job. So a few folks would be really happy, but most everyone else wouldn’t stay long on any job, and most stuff would get done pretty badly. Not a pretty scenario.

I commented on his blog with this:

This makes me think of supply-side economics.
Maybe following his advice leads to a gigantic increase in welfare as people compete harder and so innovate more. .
Think of it this way: today Jobsian success has p = 1% and N = 10m. After Jobs’ speech N -> 1b and p -> 0.5%. We’re better off, non?
Or are you saying there’s a fixed supply of Jobsian success stories in our future?
Fewer garbage collectors? Maybe. Maybe we’d have machines doing it much sooner, too.

This makes me wonder a bit more actually.

Steve Jobs takes over (again) as CEO in 2000, gets diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and THEN proceeds to go on a innovation rampage. But he never had an innovative period of his life like that before.

Here’s Cringely from earlier this year:

Steve Jobs is clearly the most important media mogul on the planet right now, and maybe the most fragile.  This latter point is important, because Steve sees himself as having both a unique mission and a frail constitution.  He can’t wait to get things done, which is why the next couple years will be probably the most important in Apple’s history.


Is there a way to possibly replicate this motivation without a direct and serious threat to your life? Can people in ‘normal’ circumstances possibly follow this advice?

David Pogue argues today that we won’t see another Steve Jobs because we won’t find someone as TALENTED as Steve.

I completely disagree.

We won’t see another Steve Jobs because we won’t see someone running a company they passionately care about with the motivated sense of urgency Steve had following his cancer diagnosis.

One thought on “Why Did Steve Jobs Follow His Own Advice?

  1. Solution:

    1. Find a CEO who does good work.
    2. Dose them with polonium.
    3. ???
    4. Profit!

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