Love Rockets Professional ReInventions: Three Career Management Lessons from Steve Jobs

Motorcycle Rider Jumping Mid Air2

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk


Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlendler and Rick Tetzeli is an outstanding book (especially if you’re an Apple Geek, Fanboy, and Investor like myself). Their book explains how Steve Jobs chose to adapt and transform his management style and behavior after Apple fired him in 1985. Fast Company’s April 2015 issue summarizes chunks of their book in the following articles:

Believe It or Not, Steve Jobs Reinvented Himself. Jobs learned from his management and behavioral failures. He successfully applied those lessons to reinvent himself in the second half of his career. Along the way, he and a crackerjack executive team transformed Apple into the world’s most valuable company. 

Three Career Management Lessons Steve Jobs (and Apple) Can Teach Us About Professional ReInvention. Schlender’s and Tetzeli’s Fast Company April 2015 articles explain a complicated man (and company) rife with contradictions. Not surprisingly, career (and life) transformations are also filed with complications, contradictions, and pain.

Jobs accepted and learned from his personal complications, contradictions, and pain. In fact, he embraced them to inform and guide his decision making. And, so can we …

Here are three (3) themes in self-discipline and focus emerging from Schlender and Tetzeli’s articles so we too can achieve something meaningful and great:

  • Become a RELENTLESS Learning Machine
  • Know and Own Your Secret, Differentiating Sauce
  • Love Conquers All

1. Become a RELENTLESS Learning Machine. The following quote from The Evolution of Steve Jobs article speaks volumes. (Note: I added the additional formatting for emphasis):

“Steve was someone with a deep hunger for learning, who breathed in an education wherever he could find it, from his youthful pilgrimage to India to his key mentors and his longtime colleagues at NeXT, Pixar, and Apple. Powell Jobs goes so far as to call him a ‘learning machine.’ He learned from his many failures and relentlessly applied those lessons. This wasn’t an obvious process—Steve always preferred to talk about the future rather than the past, so there are very few examples of him reflecting on his triumphs and missteps, or acknowledging a lesson learned. But like most of us, he tried to use what he learned to take better advantage of his strengths and temper his weaknesses. It was a lifelong effort, and, like most of us, he succeeded in some ways and failed in others.

Career changes and transformation are never easy. They’re never smooth. They’re always littered with disappointments, failures, and frustrations.

ASK YOURSELF. Why should our expectations and experiences be any less different? That pain comes with the conscious choice to think different:

When the hiccups occur, remember, the “R” in “reinvention” represents:

  • Relentless
  • Rebel
  • Reward

We learn by doing. That’s our reward. Steve Jobs learned to Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

2. Know and Own Your Secret, Differentiating Sauce.
Steve Jobs’ previous management failures at Apple and Next taught him not to spread himself too thin when he returned to the company in 1997. He knew what made him great and focused with a laser-like intensity (especially when his health began deteriorating):

  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Product Introductions
Even better, he knew (and accepted) what others did better. Jobs delegated huge responsibilities and functions to trusted lieutenants in 1997:
  • Finance: Fred Anderson
  • Supply Chain: Tim Cook
  • Industrial Design: Jony Ive
  • Hardware (i.e., Macs, iPod, iPhone, iPad): Jon Rubinstein
  • Software: Avie Tevanian
The combined, collaborative intellect of the aforementioned six (6) people among multiple functions started The Apple Resurrection. Each person brought, developed, and executed expertise producing The Apple Secret Sauce: Complex Ecosystems Powered by Diversity of Thought. Trial-by-fire forged The Apple Resurrection Team.Tough. Focused. Tight. Here’s what Bill Gates says from from The Evolution of Steve Jobs article:
“That is a really crack team that bonded with each other in toughness. I mean, you can point to every member of that team and say, ‘Okay, he earned his pay, he earned his pay, he earned his pay.’ There’s no weakness in that team.”

What’s your individual secret sauce? What skills and expertise differentiate you? What’s the missing ingredient you can contribute to other teams or organizations who are “one taco short of a combination plate?”That taco may be YOU.Check out Dorie Clark’s latest book, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It.

Let Dorie teach you how to:


Define Your Niche …


… and Define Your Breakthrough Idea.



3. Love Conquers All. Tim Cook succeeded Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO for many important reasons:

  • Apple’s Growth: Reframing Apple’s sales from tens of thousands to tens of millions required a manufacturing and supply chain transformation on an unprecedented, global scale. Cook spearheaded this initiative.
  • Apple’s Complexity: Apple “designs in” competitive differentiation through a complex ecosystem of hardware, software, and services. But, Apple’s loyal fans never see that complexity. Apple hides it by delivering a seamless and “it’s all expected to work together the first time” experience (and Tim Cook is THE puppet master).
“Steve wanted people to love Apple,” says Cook, “not just work for Apple, but really, love Apple, and really understand at a very deep level what Apple was about, about the values of the company. He didn’t write them on the walls and make posters out of them anymore, he wanted people to understand them. He wanted people to work for a better cause.”
“This was a significant common thread we had,” says Cook. “I really love Apple, and I do think Apple is here for a bigger reason. There are very few companies like that on the face of the earth anymore.”

ASK YOURSELF. Do you love what you do? Do you believe your skills and experiences can help another person, another team, another organization for a better cause? If you said no to either question, maybe what you’re currently doing (no matter how well it pays you), isn’t what you were meant to do.

All You Need Is Love. Bob Costas asked Paul McCartney in 1991 what’s the lasting impact, influence, or message of The Beatles (start around the 21:00 time stamp).

I’ve never forgotten Sir Paul’s succinct response almost a quarter century later:


Your Turn

Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear from you. I’m here to read, listen, and learn from YOUR PERSPECTIVE.

Comments are open. So let’er rip!

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As President and Founder of Faustino Marketing Strategies, I advise how a buyer's problem guides a client's content marketing and SEO decisions.

I am based in the Kansas City area (Overland Park, Kansas).

I share my ideas on the reinvention of content marketing and SEO in my personal blog: Social Media ReInvention. (

2 thoughts on “Love Rockets Professional ReInventions: Three Career Management Lessons from Steve Jobs

  1. Tony, I love the post and the content. Humility aside, I think I applied in my life what Steve had done for himself after his firing and learning from his mistakes, learning from others and Love For Learning. Learning gives me the meaning of my life next down below My Faith. My Faith is my relationship with my Creator, first in my list and foremost priority. I wanted to get better tomorrow than today. I built my own ladder mindful of my weaknesses. The word “difficult” I transformed into “challenges” because difficult meant to me as insurmountable while challenges has a solution if you have the courage to overcome it “head-on or by other other route or means available to me”. For me, I start with my own perspective why I got into having a challenge in my hands and mindful of my weaknesses and resources I built my strategies not to make the same mistakes. I watch, listened and evaluate what had happened to others; their failures and successes. I asked myself “where do I fit here?”. This is a GREAT POSTING if ever there is one other than textbooks and motivational speeches. Great Work. Dad.

    • Thank you Dad for your kindness and encouraging words. I love you for that. Your comment explains why you achieved enormous personal and professional success in spite of extremely constrained resources. Instead, you taught yourself and embraced how economic constraints are a gift. Constraints taught you how to hustle and be resourceful. Check out this new book I recently found via Seth Godin’s suggestion: A Beautiful Constraint – How to Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business.

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