Words of Wisdom

Two Profound Insights Taught by Steve Jobs

When asked if the societal impact of Apple’s inventions resembles a new Renaissance, Steve Jobs answered his work resembles nothing like it. The tech industry is such a unique one that whether writing code or making hardware your work will be obsolete within a decade. “Everything I’ve ever done will be obsolete by the time I’m 50.” In the same interview Jobs is asked about his view of the world. When we are born into this world we are told “this is how the world works”. Job’s counters that idea with the simple insight that the world around us is built by people no smarter then us. You can go out there and make your mark. Build something of your own. Influence people.

On Life


“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life. Have fun, save a little money. But that’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is:everything around you that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. And the minute that you understand that, you can poke life. And if you push in, something will pop out the other side. You can change it. You can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing: to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it. Versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it. I think that’s very important. And however you learn that, once you learn it you’lll want to change life and make it better. Because it’s kind of messed up in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

On Tech


“It’s a very strange business, a very strange endeavor of life. All the work that I have done in my life will be obsolete by the time I’m 50. […] This is a field where one does not write a Principia which holds up for 200 years. This is not a field where one paints a painting that will be looked at for centuries. Or builds a church that will be admired and looked at in astonishment for centuries. No, this is a field where one does one’s work and in 10 years it’s obsolete and really will not be usable within 10 or 20 years. […] It’s sort of like sediments of rock. You’re building up a mountain and you get to contribute your little layer of sedimentary rock to make the mountain that much higher. But no one on the surface, unless they have x-ray vision, will see your sediment. They’ll stand on it, it’ll be appreciated by that rare geologist, but it’s not like the Renaissance at all. It’s very different.”

Lessons learned

  1. Everything around you was made up by people who were no smarter than you.
  2. All the work that you do in tech will be obsolete by the time you’re 50.

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Words of Wisdom by Mathijs Koenraadt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.