I worked at Apple for 10 years – here’s what Steve Jobs taught me about how to be successful “at anything”

By Justin Santamaria
Illustrations by Ash Lamb

From 2003 to 2013, I was an engineer at Apple, where I led the teams that built FaceTime, iMessage, and CarPlay.

Working closely with Steve Jobs was an opportunity I will never forget. He was a visionary who taught me a lot about not only how to make products that people love, but also how to be successful in anything in life.

Here are the three simple yet profound lessons I learned from Jobs that have helped me succeed in my career as a tech entrepreneur today:

1. Mastery requires iteration.

Illustration: Ash Lamb for CNBC Make It

Doing something good takes patience and hard work. But it also means knowing when to stop making changes; you’ll know when you’ve arrived at the best product when you’re more than happy to share it.

During my first week at Apple, Jobs was preparing an iChat demo. “I’m going to piss the crowd off in their pants,” he said.

Jobs knew he had executed something big.

2. Use your failures as stepping stones to success.

Illustration: Ash Lamb for CNBC Make It

When Apple was ready to launch the iPhone into the world, the foundation was already there to continue taking new and different risks later on.

With each product, Jobs expected things to go wrong. But he also understood that the mistakes were often worth the reward. Perfection may not exist, but greatness could be achieved with a few software updates.

3. Remove the rock that’s keeping you out of your comfort zone.

Illustration: Ash Lamb for CNBC Make It

The original iPhone changed the world forever in 2007, with its multitouch screen and numeric keypad as highlights.

The decision to remove the mechanical keyboard was a smart industrial design solution. This allowed the iPhone to have more screen real estate for other creative features.

justin santamaria is a former Apple engineer. Currently, he is the co-founder of the fitness app Coming. Prior to Future, he led the guest experience product team at Airbnb. Follow him on Twitter.

Ash lamb is an illustrator and designer based in Barcelona, ​​Spain. He spends his time deconstructing and illustrating ideas for creative entrepreneurs, and teaching people how to create impactful visuals at visualgrowth.com. Follow him on Twitter and instagram.

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