How This Lesson Steve Jobs Learned At 12 Years Old Can Make You A Better Entrepreneur

Ask More Questions

Harry Alford
Sep 19, 2017 · 3 min read

There are people who believe in fate and then there are those who believe in taking action. Co-Founder of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs, believed this choice is what separates people that do things from those that just dream about them.

In an exclusive unscripted interview with the Silicon Valley Historical Association in 1994, Steve Jobs gives advice to potential entrepreneurs discussing risk, failure, his own experiences and learning the value of creating your own environment. Jobs describes how he called the Co-Founder of Hewlett Packard (HP) when he was 12 years old asking for advice on building a frequency counter. What he got in return was more than he could have imagined, an opportunity working on the assembly line that summer manufacturing the very thing he had an interest in.

This experience potentially shaped who Jobs became as a successful entrepreneur, inventor and eventually Co-Founder of Apple. He would have never gotten this experience if he never asked. Jobs states:

Asking questions is one of the most important habits for innovative thinkers. Asking questions is a powerful way of learning and gaining deeper insights. Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet, Inc., once said, “We run this company on questions, not answers.” He knows that if you keep asking questions you can keep finding better answers.

Breaking through and achieving success is easier said than done. One of the requirements for success is the willingness to fail. More often than not people are faced with a choice: allow developments to determine your path or fulfill your vision without being hindered by a fear of failure. Paulo Coelho addresses this concept in The Alchemist, a fable about a young boy following his dream. Coelho’s bestselling novel applies to Jobs’ approach to entrepreneurship and dictating your own success. Coelho insists:

Sometimes fear is a bigger obstacle than the obstacle itself. It can be scary embarking on a new journey. But forming meaningful relationships or getting what you want is about putting yourself out there. It requires actionable steps towards a goal and that begins with asking more questions.

I wouldn’t wait on something coming to you. Contrary to what most people believe, the prospect of fate and dreaming won’t solely make you a successful entrepreneur. If you want to realize your full potential, then you must stay focused, ask more questions and keep moving forward. Steve Jobs never found anyone that didn’t want to help him if he asked them for help. You’ve got to be willing to crash and burn — with people on the phone, with starting a company — or you won’t get very far.

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humble words by humble ventures

Stories and lessons about venture capital, innovation, entrepreneurship, diverse founders and those building solutions for diverse audiences.

Harry Alford

Written by

Harry Alford is Co-Founder of humble ventures, a venture development firm accelerating tech startups in partnership with large organizations and investors.

humble words by humble ventures

Stories and lessons about venture capital, innovation, entrepreneurship, diverse founders and those building solutions for diverse audiences.

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