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Hyper-Curious and Willing to Fail: How You Can Be More Like Steve Jobs

April 24, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226447

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was one of the most recognizable, respected and feared entrepreneurs in the tech industry. Aspiring business owners continue to look to Jobs' accomplishments for inspiration and motivation.

Jobs led Apple to profitability through unparalleled leadership and innovation. Though often considered difficult to work for, it was Jobs's vision for a "computer for the rest of us" that yielded revolutionary products such as the iPod and iTunes, the iPhone and iPad.

Nolan Bushnell knows firsthand what made Jobs tick, both as a person and as a business leader. Bushnell is the author of Finding the Next Steve Jobs (Net Minds Corp., 2013). In 1974, Bushnell, who was the co-founder of gaming company Atari, hired Jobs as a technician. When Jobs started Apple two years later, the men remained friends.

We spoke with Bushnell about Jobs and what made him such a successful entrepreneur. Here, Bushnell offers five ways business owners can be more like Jobs.

Related: Atari Co-Founder Nolan Bushnell on Gaming and Business Growth

1. Be obnoxious.
It's often said that Jobs always believed he was right -- about everything. But he was also willing to push harder and longer than other people who might have had equally good ideas but who caved under pressure, Bushnell says.

The key is being the right amount of obnoxious in order to get people to accomplish your company's goals. Self-confidence is good. Being a total jerk, well, maybe not so much. "You want to make sure that being obnoxious is not the end goal," Bushnell says.

2. Be intensely passionate.
Jobs had a passionate enthusiasm for everything he was working on, Bushnell says. Not only should an entrepreneur have an infectious passion for the business he or she is starting, but should build a team of equally passionate people.

"Listen deeply when asking a candidate to describe his or her passions," Bushnell says. "In the long run, people with enthusiasm are going to contribute the most to your enterprise."

3. Be creative about delegating.
Bushnell remembers Jobs telling him about how his colleagues at Apple expected him to come up with all the creative ideas for the company. "At another meeting, he voiced his concern for people believing he was the only reason for Apple's success and he felt he received too much credit," Bushnell says.

One way Jobs was successful was by delegating responsibilities for thinking creatively. An entrepreneur should create teams that bounce numerous ideas off of each other before something sticks. "Creativity must flow liberally and freely through the entire company," Bushnell says.

Related: 10 Lessons from Great Leaders in Tech

4. Be hyper-curious.
As an entrepreneur, being curious is critical. It means wanting and needing to know how everything about your business works and why. Jobs's curiosity involved technology, design and beyond. "Curious people always have a range of interests and a broad base of knowledge in many disparate fields and subjects," Bushnell says.

Successful entrepreneurs also need to be able to understand issues quickly and make decisions on-the-fly. "Being able to problem solve is more advantageous than just knowing the right answer," he says.

5. Be willing to fail.
While leading Apple, Jobs learned a thing or two about failure. In the early 1980s, dismal sales of the Apple III and its follow-up -- a computer Jobs pushed for called LISA -- caused Apple to lose nearly half its market to rival IBM.

"Sometimes the market, the people [and] the idea aren't right but you have to move on, [and] try again," Bushnell says. "If you lose a game of chess, you still set up the game and go at it again."

Related: Inspirational Leaders Who Turned Around Their Companies