Steve Jobs and His 12 Rules of Success

Updated: October 12, 2023

Note: This was originally published in 2011.

I own an iPod Touch, and it’s the only Apple product I’ve bought (so far). But in two years, it has become my most used gadget and the only one I always have with me wherever I go.

Yes, I use it more than my mobile phone and even my laptop.

And on many occasions, I’ve recommended it to friends as the “best Apple product” worth buying.

I’ve often wondered how such a portable device with such a simplistic design could have such a big impact on my everyday life. And then I remembered something that Steve Jobs said during an interview with Wired Magazine back in 1995:

Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.

Indeed, I loved my iPod Touch for its utility and flexibility, not just for how it looks. And I realized that in life, what matters most is really how we work and how much we have given back to the world.

So now, let me share with you Steve Jobs’ 12 Rules of Success as authored by Jeffery Young in his book Steve Jobs, the Journey Is the Reward.

Let this be my simple way of giving tribute to the man who has changed how people interact with technology today.

12 Rules of Success by Steve Jobs

1. Do what you love to do. Find your true passion. Make a difference. The only way to do great work is to love what you do.

2. Be different. Think different. Better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.

3. Do your best at every job. Don’t sleep! Success generates more success, so be hungry for it. Hire good people with a passion for excellence.

4. Perform SWOT analysis. As soon as you join/start a company, make a list of strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your company on a piece of paper. Don’t hesitate to throw bad apples out of the company.

5. Be entrepreneurial. Look for the next big thing. Find a set of ideas that need to be acted upon quickly and decisively and jump through that window. Sometimes, the first step is the hardest one. Just take it. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

6. Start small, think big. Don’t worry about too many things at once. Take a handful of simple things to begin with, and then progress to more complex ones. Think about not just tomorrow but the future. Put a ding in the universe.

7. Strive to become a market leader. Own and control the primary technology in everything you do. If there’s better technology available, use it regardless of whether or not anyone else is using it. Be the first, and make it an industry standard.

8. People judge you by your performance, so focus on the outcome. Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected. Advertise. If they don’t know about it, they won’t buy your product. Pay attention to design. We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them. Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

9. Ask for feedback from people with diverse backgrounds. Each one will tell you one useful thing. If you’re at the top of the chain, sometimes people won’t give you honest feedback because they’re afraid. In this case, disguise yourself or get feedback from other sources. Focus on those who will use your product – listen to your customers first.

10. Innovate. Innovation distinguishes a leader from a follower. Delegate. Let other top executives do 50% of your routine work to be able to spend 50% of your time on the new stuff. Say no to 1,000 things to make sure you don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. Concentrate on really important creations and radical innovation. Hire people who want to make the best things in the world. You need a very product-oriented culture, even in a technology company. Lots of companies have tons of great engineers and smart people. But ultimately, there needs to be some gravitational force that pulls it all together.

11. Learn from failures. Sometimes, when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.

12. Learn continually. There’s always “one more thing” to learn. Cross-pollinate ideas with others both within and outside your company. Learn from customers, competitors, and partners. If you partner with someone whom you don’t like, learn to like them – praise them and benefit from them. Learn to criticize your enemies openly but honestly.

And one more thing…

Let me end by giving you a quote from one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard… from Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech at Stanford University:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Thank you, Steve Jobs. We will forever “stay hungry and foolish.”

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  1. Steve Jobs is just one of the few humans in this world that really made a big difference in the lives of every human being. I salute Steve Jobs. Although I don’t have any Apple technology with me, I appreciate him for the IDEAS that he conceptualized and shared with the rest of the world.

  2. Its painful to see a good man go, but looking back the kind of life Steve Jobs lives pain will turn into feeling grateful.

    Our generation is blessed because of visionary men of technology born and flourished in our time.

    Very well written blog for Steve Jobs. Thank you for this.

  3. Hi Fitz,

    Thanks for writing about Steve Jobs, I am not so techy person but I appreciate much the things you’ve shared about this genius man.

    I have passion for art and design so I really like what Steve Jobs talked about the latter.

  4. Those twelve lessons are things we must bring everyday. From a person who didn’t even finish college, this is a true testament that grades are nothing without courage and determination.

    Nice one, Fitz!

  5. I am fascinated by Steve Jobs. I want to have a glimpse of what he was like as a person other than what’s written in the news. I think reading his upcoming biography would shed light to this. I would also like to think this is a form of tribute to him for what he did. He sacrificed a lot to achieve what he did.

    I think that even though he achieved wealth from his ventures, there is more about him to inspire everyone to think differently and pursue our dreams to the best of our abilities. I may be wrong about this but I intend to find out through his biography.

  6. Dear Mr. Fritz,

    I always been your avid readers of your blog.
    Your article about “Steve Jobs and His 12 Rules of Success” was become so inspiring to me.
    With this I want also to used this material for my blogsite to share the inspirational quotes of Steve Jobs.
    So I am formally requesting a consent from your end to get the copy of this by coping at your website.



  7. Hi Henry. Sure go ahead, just please include in your blog post a link to this page telling them that this was your source. Thanks!

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