I thought this was a really nicely stated dose of wisdom WRT product development, startups, and life. Definitely worth reading, and it inspired me to augment w/ a few notes of my own.

#1 Be curious. It’s important not only to be curious, but to hone the skills to investigate your inquiries. Some of the most important people I’ve worked with were the ones who didn’t just demonstrate a rhetorical curiosity, but had concrete skills to track down the answers.

#2 Dream big. My experience (personally and through observation) is that size of dream varies inversely with age, as one becomes more aware (or daunted by) the challenges of the real world. It’s on us to actively recognize that and mitigate that in ourselves and others.

#3 Stretch yourself. Similar to #1, be inquisitive, and don’t assume “impossible”. One of the biggest differences I’ve observed from working within Apple and other large tech companies, is that at Apple, something wasn’t labeled “impossible” until it was proven to be.

#4 Don’t build stuff just to make money. Nothing (ok, very few things) great ever came of market research. Most of the great innovations in history were derived from vision, and understanding of potential users’ needs, but had very little concrete evidence of market viability.

#5 An idea on paper isn’t worth much.” The world is not short of great ideas. The bottleneck is great teams who can combine vision, pragmatism, and resources to execute on those ideas.

#6 Be Forgiving This one was a little personal and specific to Woz and SJ’s past, but to generalize it, I’d say a positive approach is always a path of lesser resistance, even if it means compromising your ego. A former mentor recently said to me, “Think honey, not vinegar.” I guess that makes him a current mentor, b/c I still have a lot to learn from him. :)

#7 Take problems to bed with you. It’s funny, b/c I read a lot about sleep health/science, and this is exactly the opposite advice they’d give. However, I’ll agree that when you are truly compelled to solve a problem, you can’t put it down. It’s amazing that we, as humans, can keep making progress on hard logical problems, even lying still in the dark.

#8 Never stop simplifying. I’m currently reading The Organized Mind, by Daniel Levitin, a neuro-psychologist who studies the benefits of simplicity. Based on what I’ve learned in that book, I’d add that simplifying your work not only has the direct benefit of achieving a more elegant solution, but also reduces cognitive load on your brain, freeing up neurons from tracking complexities, and making them available for creativity.

#9 Don’t take things too seriously. I’m still figuring this one out. :).

Wisdom of Woz appeared in Fast Co Design, by Warren Berger, on September 30, 2014:

Michael Rosenblatt is managing director of Seamless Product Development, a consulting firm that helps companies deliver innovative, differentiated solutions to important problems.

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