Steve Jobs Version 1.0

I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did.”

– Jobs, in a commencement speech at Stanford.

Steve Jobs was a failure many times over. He never graduated college. He was fired from the company he started then nearly tanked his follow-up company. He even had a daughter out of wedlock, then denied the child was his, only to name a computer model after her (a computer that many, fittingly, have deemed a commercial failure.)

Still, these days, no one seems to doubt that Jobs is a visionary, which is a testament to his power to overcome setbacks. Apple products continue to dominate the market and Jobs himself was recently named the CEO of the decade. However, several years ago, Jobs was just a man with an ego, lost in the wild.

Jobs started his career in computers by dropping out of college. After successfully building up Apple, he was eventually fired from the company in 1985. Unsure what to do next, he formed another company called NeXT Computers, but the computer he introduced quickly tanked. From 1985 to 1993, NeXT only sold 50,000 computers.

Yet, rather than abandon computers for good and choose a new line of work, Jobs ingeniously took a detour and focused on software and movies, co-founding Pixar Animation. We don’t have to tell you how this story turns out – Jobs eventually leveraged his success and was welcomed back to Apple.

In fact, Jobs wasted no time when he returned. According to Business Week, after regaining control of Apple, he walked into the first board meeting in shorts and a scruffy face and proclaimed that the problem with the company is that “the products suck.” He then exclaimed that “there’s no sex in them anymore.” So Jobs spent the next few years creating a more seductive Apple.

But as he confessed in his commencement speech at Stanford, the failure was ultimately what led him to succeed. “[I]t turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

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