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Steve Jobs Quotes: Creativity & Innovation
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.
When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often-times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there.
Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.
Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.
Picasso had a saying: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas… I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians, poets, artists, zoologists, and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.
Real artists ship.
Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem.
People get stuck as they get older. Our minds are sort of electrochemical computers. Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. It’s a rare person who etches grooves that are other than a specific way of looking at things, a specific way of questioning things. It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing. Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they’re rare.
You always have to keep pushing to innovate. Dylan could have sung protest songs forever and probably made a lot of money, but he didn’t. He had to move on, and when he did, by going electric in 1965, he alienated a lot of people. His 1966 Europe tour was his greatest… The Beatles were the same way. They kept evolving, moving, refining their art. That’s what I’ve always tried to do — keep moving. Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you are not busy being born, you’re busy dying.
If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away. The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, “Bye. I have to go. I’m going crazy and I’m getting out of here.” And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.
I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done by others before us. I didn’t invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow.
There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say, “Wow,” and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.
It probably is true that the people who have been able to come up with the innovations in many industries are maybe not the people that either are best skilled at, or, frankly enjoy running a large enterprise where they lose contact with the day-to-day workings of that innovative process. Dr. Land at Polaroid, he’s a perfect example.
Dr. Edwin Land was a troublemaker. He dropped out of Harvard and founded Polaroid. Not only was he one of the great inventors of our time but, more important, he saw the intersection of art and science and business and built an organization to reflect that. Polaroid did that for some years, but eventually Dr. Land, one of those brilliant troublemakers, was asked to leave his own company — which is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of… The man is a national treasure. I don’t understand why people like that can’t be held up as models: This is the most incredible thing to be — not an astronaut, not a football player — but this.
My observation, is that the doers are the major thinkers. The people that really create the things that change this industry are both the thinker and doer in one person. And if we really go back and we examine, you know, did Leonardo have a guy off to the side that was thinking five years out in the future what he would paint or the technology he would use to paint it, of course not. Leonardo was the artist but he also mixed all his own paints. He also was a fairly good chemist. He knew about pigments, knew about human anatomy. And combining all of those skills together, the art and the science, the thinking and the doing, was what resulted in the exceptional result. And there is no difference in our industry. The people that have really made the contributions have been the thinkers and the doers. And a lot of people of course — it’s very easy to take credit for the thinking. The doing is more concrete. But somebody, it’s very easy to say, “Oh, I thought of this three years ago.” But usually when you dig a little deeper, you find that the people that really did it were also the people that really worked through the hard intellectual problems as well. 
Hollywood’s really different than Silicon Valley. And neither understands the other at all. People up here think being creative is some guys in their late 20s and early 30s sitting around old couches drinking beer thinking up jokes. It couldn’t be further from the truth. The creative process is just as disciplined as the technical process; it requires just as much talent. And yet people in Hollywood think technology is only as deep as something you buy. There’s no technical culture in Hollywood, they couldn’t attract and retain good engineers to save their life, because they’re second class citizens down there. Just like creative people are second class citizens in Silicon Valley.