What Steve Jobs Can Teach Us About Money

What Steve Jobs Can Teach Us About Money

Today, all across the world, people are mourning the loss of one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. There is hardly a person living who has not been touched in some way by Steve Jobs’ beautifully designed inventions, from the world’s very first personal computer way back in 1976 to the more recent stunning slew of “i” products, the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod, the iMac, iTunes, and so many more I couldn’t possibly list them all. In fact, I’m writing this blog post now from my MacBook Pro, and I love it– I made the switch from my trusty IBM ThinkPad about a year ago and haven’t looked back.

Millions of websites and emails today are discussing the life of Steve Jobs and all of the lessons we can learn from such a life well-lived. You will read all sorts of beautiful and moving remembrances today, but here are a few of my favorite quotes and thoughts:

On Creating Wealth

Steve Jobs is responsible for employing thousands of people, directly or indirectly, around the world.  Apple, Inc., itself employed 46,600 full time employees and 2,800 temporary full time employees worldwide as of September 2010, and operates 357 retail stores worldwide.

And that’s not counting the thousands more who develop apps for the iPhone and iPad, who design and make cases for Apple products, provide services related to Apple products, construct the stores used to sell Apple products, etc.

He has created more wealth and more opportunity for more people than just about any other person living today! He truly embodies the entrepreneurial promise, and the ideals on which America was originally founded.

On Losing Money

“I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year…. It’s very character-building.”[1]

I’m sure in your quest for financial freedom you may have had some “character-building” moments, too, (I know I certainly have!) but Steve Jobs inspires all of us not to dwell on the past but rather to concentrate on the future.

He is a true comeback king– after being forced out of Apple in 1985 did he sit around and wallow?  Nope, he bought Pixar in 1986 and led that company to produce Toy Story (among many others!), one of the most famous and beloved animated features of all-time.

On Not Resting On Your Laurels

“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”

This meshes with his approach of not dwelling on the past, above…even if what you have already accomplished is super-successful and wonderful, Jobs advises us to not rest on our laurels but instead to look to the future and to what else we can achieve.

On Americans and America

“When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.”[2]

This reminds me of the recent article written by Michael Lewis for Vanity Fair, “California and Bust“, in which he states, quoting Mark Paul who co-authored Cal­ifornia Crackup:

But when you look below the surface, the system is actually very good at giving Californians what they want. “What all the polls show,” says Paul, “is that people want services and not to pay for them. And that’s exactly what they have now got.”

Everyone would like to place the blame for whatever predicament they are in on someone else’s shoulders, whether at a personal level or a national one. And all of us would love to get something for nothing, or as much as we can for as little hard work as possible. But when we extrapolate these values to a national level, we end up with an over-bloated government that we simply cannot afford, and a main-stream media that does little to truly educate people, as the majority of people would rather be entertained.

I highly recommend reading Lewis’ Vanity Fair article when you have some time (it is rather long)– he is one of the best financial journalists out there today.

On Simplicity and Minimalism

Bruce Lee and Steve Jobs had at least one thing in common: they both were strong believers in the power of simplicity and minimalism to achieve excellence.  Says Jobs:

“Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It’s about saying NO to all but the most crucial features.” And, “That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”[3]

And one of Lee’s most famous quotes:

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”

Are you practicing the art of simplicity and focus in your finances, or do you have more than 20 different stocks and mutual funds to keep track of, along with bonds, precious metals, and a million other things? Are your day-to-day finances clean and simple and running on auto-pilot, or are you buried in a slew of receipts and bills and statements? Can you learn from Jobs and Lee and apply a dose of simplicity, minimalism, and focus to your finances? I guarantee your finances will be the better for it, and you will sleep better, too! 🙂

Steve Jobs led an amazing and productive life and will be sorely missed. RIP Mr. Jobs.

— Kung Fu Girl

“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

― Bruce Lee

[1] (As quoted in Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company (2004) by Owen W. Linzmayer)
[2] (As quoted in an interview with WIRED magazine (February 1996))
[3] [BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998]

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