What I learned from Steve Jobs

October 14th, 2011 No Comments

In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Brian asked Steve Jobs about his accomplishment. Jobs’s response: “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful”

This is also how I see things.

Growing up expecting excellence – at one of the top high schools in America, going to a Tier I university, with many peers who went to Ivy League and Top 10 schools – excellence was the norm, not a singular achievement.

My standards are high but realistic. Normal to me and the community that I grew up in is excellent to others.

The standards are based on a minimum of best practices, knowledge, and commitment to intellectual rigor and knowing how to learn how to learn.

Sometimes, I admit, it can come out as complaining or disappointment.

Sometimes this is why I am disappointed in Israel or not always enthusiastic about a good idea. It’s good, but I’m used to great.

I wrote my first website at 15, the same time that I also wrote my first press release and pitched my first journalist. I started an organization that has influenced popular culture and the media over the past 15 years. I’ve been called partially responsible for founding a modern civil rights movement. So what? So did lots of others, and we haven’t yet achieved our goal.

I started my career as a college intern in the United States Senate, beginning in the halls of power. So what? So did lots of others. At one time in my life, I’ve been in the same room as every US president since Bill Clinton. So what? There were lots of other people also in that room, some of whom much closer to the president. Winning a Nobel Prize? That’s great. One of my classmate’s father won a Nobel while we were in high school. Truly an amazing achievement, but also one that I expect to happen every once in a while. Of course, I was broadly exposed to it. I didn’t win it myself. That Israel has 10 Nobels? Is that great, or should we have more? I expect more.

These are high expectations.

They are also achievable. Excellence is my norm. I can’t perform at low level, but perform best with other excellent peers.

OK, to be fair, I didn’t learn this message from Steve Jobs.

It’s how I’ve always lived my life.

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