The sad passing, at just 56, of Steve Jobs has seen countless articles, T.V. shows and tributes that lauded him for being a visionary and for changing the world that we live in. He changed multiple industries including computers, movies, music and phones and when I read and watched some of the tributes from people that knew him I kept thinking about the famous Robert Kennedy quote
‘Some men see things as they are and say why?…..I dream things that never were and say why not?’.
It was this attitude that gave us so many of the things we use in our everyday lives.
I also had the opportunity to listen to the 114th commencnement speech at Stamford University he gave back in 2005 and while I was listening I was struck by how some of the things he said had equal application in the finance world. You see finance, investments, financial planning or whatever you like to call it is not just about an investment or a product or a strategy, its about choices. Choices about what you want to do with your life, what you want to focus on, what’s important to you.
The investments or strategy that you adopt is just the means to achieving that outcome for the reasons that are important to you.
I recently did some presentations on investment and strategy matters and had a question about whether someone should sell their investment property and buy a family home or invest into a second investment property. I asked what the objective of buying the second property was and the answer was so that it would increase in value to allow them to buy another property to which i again asked “for what purpose”…..so that it would increase in value etc….there was no outcome that this person was trying to achieve, just a cycle of investing for investing sake.
So what are the lessons that we can learn from Steve?
1. Follow your heart
The iPod was launched in 2001 and many of the experts of the day were unimpressed. Tim Deal, a Technology Business Research analyst said that “I question the company’s ability to sell into a tight consumer market right now at the iPod’s current price”. Stephen Baker from NPD Intellect predicted that the device would have trouble carving out a niche in the market. Whilst tech website MacSlash said “The iPod sells for an absolutely hideously outrageous $399 and will be available to the two people who buy them at that price”. Steve thought otherwise.
Apple has sold over 275 million iPods worldwide……..Don’t listen to the experts
2. An investment strategy is of no value if you don’t have a reason for it.
Looking in the mirror every morning Jobs would ask himself ‘If today were the last day of my life would i want to do what i am about to do today’ and if the answer was no for too many days in a row he knew it was time for a change.
Not all of us have the flexability in our lives to be able to make a change if we do answer no to many times, but we do have the power to change our focus. Why do you do what you do every day?, what are you doing it for?, whats the purpose of your life? Having an investment strategy is important, having a reason to have a strategy is even more important
3. We will all be dead soon
Steve credited the prospect of his imminent demise from cancer in 2005 for sharpening his focus and the most important tool he ever encountered in making the big choices in life. “Almost everything else melts away in the face of death leaving only whats truly important” he said.
If you were faced with this terrible situation, what would truly be important to you?
If you don’t have a reason for an investment strategy this might help you find one.
Steve Jobs legacy will be forever etched in the technology world but his legacy to me will be that he lived his life doing the things that were important to him.
Article first published as Steve Jobs Legacy Will Be In More Than Just Technology on Technorati.