Quotes from Steve Jobs Lost Interview

by November 18, 2011

I had the pleasure of catching the opening night showing of Robert X. Cringely's rediscovered TV interview with Steve Jobs in 1995. In the interview Steve mused about what makes companies and products great so I jotted down a lot of his insights. Here's a few of my favorites. Note this was typed hastily on an iPad in a crowded theater so wording is probably not exact.

"No one thinks about why they do things very deeply."

"If you are willing to work hard and ask lots of questions, you can learn business pretty fast."

"Learning to program teaches you how to think. Computer science is a liberal art."

"Money is wonderful because it allows you to invest in things without having to worry about short term gain."

"Many companies forget what it means to make great products. After initial success, sales and marketing people take over and the product people eventually make their way out."

"When companies get bigger they try to replicate their success. But they assume their magic came from process. They try to use processes to substitute content."

"The best people are the ones that understand content. They are a pain in the butt to manage but you put up with it because they are so good at content."

"Many companies get the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90 percent of the work. And if you just tell all these other people here’s this great idea then of course they can go off and make it happen. And the problem with that is that there’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. Designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want. And every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently."

"It's that through the team, through that group of incredibly talented people bumping up against each other, having arguments, having fights sometimes, making some noise, and working together they polish each other and they polish the ideas, and what comes out is really beautiful."

"With really good people all that matters is the work. They all know that."

"I don't care about being right. I care about success and doing the right thing."

"The only problem with Microsoft is that they have no taste. They don't bring a lot of innovation. They don't push culture into their products. They make really third rate products that have no spirit in them."

"The way to ratchet up our species is to get better things to more people -products with spirit and creativity."

"Humans are tool builders. We create things to amplify ourselves. The computer will rank at the top -it's the most awesome tool ever."

"How do you know the direction to head with products? It boils down to taste. Emerge yourself with the best ideas from the humanities. And integrate them. Pull interests from diverse areas."

"What causes people to be poets instead of bankers? When you put that into products people can sense that. And they love it."

Related: The Top & Bottom

In an insightful interview John Sculley (former CEO of Apple) provided some key insights into what he referred to as the "Steve Jobs method" of making great products.