The Top Six Lessons Steve Jobs can Teach Proposal Professionals

In a recent issue of Forbes, Eric Jackson wrote an interesting article about the top ten lessons Steve Jobs can teach us.  I would like to take Jackson’s list, shorten it to six, and apply his lessons to proposal professionals.

1.  You cannot create the future through focus groups.

Steve Jobs understood that while knowing your customers is important, knowing what they may need is even more important.  When the iPad appeared, at first people made fun of the name and wondered whether it was really needed.  It became the fastest growing Apple product in Apple’s history.  Jobs and his Apple colleagues trusted themselves and found ways to make their vision become a reality.

2.  Never fear failure. 

Jobs was fired by the successor he picked and did not always succeed.  But as he once said, “your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.…And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

3.  Expect much from yourself and others.

Steve Jobs was a perfectionist and often treated his colleagues miserably.  This is probably the most unattractive aspect of his personality.  Yet, he wanted the best results for himself and those working with him.  As a result, despite his difficult personality he attracted brilliant people to work with him.

4.  Find talented people to surround you.

Jobs realized that he could not do everything at Apple by himself.  Consequently, he surrounded himself with outstanding managerial and creative talent.

5.  Stay hungry.  Stay foolish.

These words from the last edition of Stewart brand’s whole Earth Catalog became the mantra of Steve Jobs.  Jobs wanted the world to overflow with new ideas and new tools.  To do this, he realized that you had to be a little foolish and awfully hungry.

6.  There is no substitute for hard work, determination, and a sense of vision.

When Jobs returned to Apple in the 1990s, it was weeks away from declaring bankruptcy.  Today, it is the biggest company in the world.  Jobs understood that you can accomplish a great deal with grit, determination, and a compelling vision.

In Jobs’s well-known 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, he glowingly described a view of the world that I would identify with best of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Proposal professionals can learn a great deal from the life and vision of Steve Jobs.


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