12 Most Inspiring Rules for Career Success… from Steve Jobs
I read an interesting post recently called “Steve Jobs and the 7 Rules for Success” by Carmine Gallo. The well-written post gives examples of how Jobs applied those seven rules to his successful entrepreneurial career.
I grew up down the street from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, never met Steve Jobs and don’t know exactly what he’d say to someone starting a career, but thought: What if Jobs presented 12 of these inspiring rules for success to young careerists?
Using quotes from some of Jobs’s interviews over the years as inspiration, then, here is what I imagine would be the “12 Most Inspiring Rules for Career Success… from Steve Jobs”.
1. Trust yourself… always
“We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not.”
Almost anywhere you’ll run into those who will tell you what you’re doing isn’t the right way – because it isn’t the way they would do things. Regarding your career, listen to, acknowledge and consider the advice. In the end, however, make your own decisions. You are the judge of whether what you’re doing is right.
2. A great career is about commitment
“It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.”
Learn as much about your industry as you can. Go beyond your duties to learn how your job fits within your department… and how your department impacts the company. Take that knowledge and expand it into how your company competes in its industry, and then the future of the industry. A truly committed person can see how they fit in – and can impact – the bigger picture.
3. Don’t follow the status quo
“Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
Every company you work for will have its own culture… its own processes that have been settled upon. It’s rare that people, especially those who have worked at the company for an extended period of time, will think to make sweeping changes… or improvements. They just follow “the way it’s always been.”
Always avoid the “the way it’s always been” mentality! You’ll most often meet with resistance because people generally hate change. When you succeed, however, you’ll have established credibility as a leader – and have developed automatic supporters for your next innovations.
4. Interviews aren’t about you
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
In any job interview, realize the interview isn’t about you – it’s not about what you want, and what you hope to get out of the job.
Instead… write yourself into the role of the job. Show the person on the other side of the table, or looking at you via Skype, that you have the skills that will fulfill their needs. You’ve done your homework on their company and matched your abilities to what they’ve described in the online posting. Now… tell the recruiter the story of that job – with you in a key role – and make them see how they need to hire you rather than your job seeking competitors.
5. You’re a future leader – act like one
“I want to put a ding in the universe.”
Decide right now that you can be much more than what you are… right now. Sure, you’re the new kid on the block, and you don’t have as much experience as the executives around you. But you were hired above all the other applicants. You’re not a “rookie” or a coffee “go-fer”… so don’t think or act like one. You’re a future leader… a visionary! Start now.
6. Perfect your message
“The manual for… the most popular word-processing program is 400 pages thick. They’re not going to learn [from that] any more than they’re going to learn Morse code. That is what Macintosh is all about.”
Before you apply to your first, or another, job… perfect your message. Make it simple and effective. Craft, refine and practice presenting your “elevator pitch” until can deliver the message perfectly, every time. Ask your mentor, perhaps a college professor you trust, or even a resume professional to help make sure your resume is perfec. They will find something wrong… even after you think you’re done.
Then… practice, practice, practice.
7. Work to live – not the other way around
“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.”
Many people start their career with an instant transition from “starving student” to where their paychecks make them feel like they’ve won the lottery every two weeks. But after a while it’s not enough. They want a newer car and a larger apartment. Then it’s a house… and a fancier vacation. So they keep working harder and longer to get the bigger paychecks. Most people, however, end up never satisfied because that financially secure horizon is always just that… on the horizon.
Which brings us to No. 8…
8. Pursue the right career for you
“People with passion can change the world for the better.”
To some, passion is easily identified. Others struggle to find their passions and then turn them into a career direction. Experiment… walk new paths… challenge yourself! That’s why most people have more than one career path in their life … to gain exposure to different environments and a variety of positions – to learn where your passions may take you. The key is… never settle. Keep experimenting until you find what truly gets you fired up to accomplish greatness.
9. “No” is your friend
“(Innovation) comes from saying no to 1,000 things… We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
It’s so easy to reach too far… to feel like you have to say “Yes” and then get stretched too thin. Learn to say no to projects that may cause you to under-perform. Also learn to say no to friends who may need your “help” – over and over again. Say no to drama queens (and kings). And, when you know there is work or networking to do – just say no to Halo 18 and Angry Birds.
Stay focused on what will drive you, your career and your passions. Everything else gets a “No, thank you.”
10. Customers should be the focus of everything you do
“This is what customers pay us for–to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use our computers.”
Develop a customer-focused, user-experience mindset. This important skill will carry over into every position – every passion – throughout your career. Not just the “real” customers who buy product; but also your “internal” customers – supervisors, mentors and colleagues are counting on your contribution. Say it out loud to yourself if it helps: “Your job is to create solutions to problems – for both internal and external customers”.
11. Always over deliver
“We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.”
Sometimes as you work on a project or a report, because you are so close to the data, some of the details are easy to over look. The recipients of your work – your boss, executives, partners or customers – will most definitely recognize the level of effort you (high or low) put into your work – and they will react accordingly. Take extra time to make sure that even the smallest details are as perfect as you can make them.
No matter your title, be humble
“You’re missing it. This is not a one-man show.”
That was the beginning of Jobs’s answer to a question in an interview with Businessweek when he returned to Apple in the late ‘90s: “There’s a lot of symbolism to your return. Is that going to be enough to reinvigorate the company with a sense of magic?”
In any position, in any size company, your work depends on others. This becomes ever truer the more established your career. A real leader always remembers that she is supported by others.
At the end of Gallo’s article that inspired this post, he closed with an anecdote. He said that Jobs was once approached by a Disney executive for advice on how to re-make the Disney store chain. Jobs’ answer is something I think he’d tell any young careerist who asked for advice on how to succeed in their career:
He said: “Dream bigger”.