What Steve Jobs Taught Us About Life and Money


Steve JobsThe thing with money is that it can’t buy you experience, or wisdom, or a purposeful life.

This may be why we can feel disconnected from the wealthiest people in the world—not only do their lives feel unrelatable, but they typically never become the artists, poets or philosophers who compel us to examine ourselves and aspire to live better.

Apple founder Steve Jobs, whose passing yesterday has been met with worldwide sadness, is an exception.

Jobs was the head of one of the world’s most valuable companies, and one of the wealthiest men in the world, with a rumored net worth of $8.3 billion. And yet a review of his life, the way he lived, and the things he said, reveals a man who was much more concerned with meaning than profit, with living each day doing something he enjoyed than with building a corporate legacy. He was passionate about his work—it was always about creating something great, above all else.

From these simple kernels of purpose grew a vision that changed the way society entered into the digital age—in a way that is arguably more bold, more special and more beautiful than it would have been without him. Apple’s visionary products, springing from a sound foundation of Jobs’s personal philosophies, have not only changed the way industries work (from medicine to media), but improved the lives of individuals. I’ve been a longtime Mac user since the early 90s, but it wasn’t until my son, who has a speech impairment, used an iPad as an affordable (and discreet) communication device, that I truly felt the impact of what Apple has given us.

Regardless of whether your passion or purpose is dancing on stage, starting your marketing business or raising a family, a look at some quotes from Steve Jobs can inspire you to live your life with meaning, and realize that money is secondary. At LearnVest, our mission is to help you to live a richer life, and Steve Jobs’s legacy reminds us that money is just one facet of real wealth.


“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

“It’s better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.”

“Let’s go invent tomorrow rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.”


“I was worth about over $1,000,000 when I was 23 and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.”

“You know, my main reaction to this money thing is that it’s humorous, all the attention to it, because it’s hardly the most insightful or valuable thing that’s happened to me.”

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”


“The problem with the Internet startup craze isn’t that too many people are starting companies; it’s that too many people aren’t sticking with it. That’s somewhat understandable, because there are many moments that are filled with despair and agony.

“So when these people sell out, even though they get fabulously rich, they’re gypping themselves out of one of the potentially most rewarding experiences of their unfolding lives. Without it, they may never know their values or how to keep their newfound wealth in perspective.”

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”


“We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”


“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.”


“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully … Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

“It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

“That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”


“I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year…. It’s very character-building.”

“I didn’t see it then, but it 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.”


“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”


“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important … You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.”

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”

Image credit: Apple.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=712076957 Diane Davis

    Lovely piece.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=36816608 Andrian Harsono

    What a great man. Respect…

  • Indeed

    Abrasive dickhead who felt entitled- didn’t even know his own children. Stop sucking up

  • http://www.fellowgeek.com/ Erfan Arabfakhri

    He will be surely missed, he changed the world in so many ways.