The most powerful word there is… (Steve Jobs was wrong)
by Alex Ahom Shhared founder
The feminist activist and poet Edna St. Vincent Millay said, “I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.” Experiences make for the best lessons and I encourage people to have as many of them as possible.
I don’t know everything about business or life but I do have a lot of insight into what it often takes. I was raised in a very colourful community, with many different characters. Hard working men, some very ambitious women and the memorable and often crazy inbetweeners.
I learned many things whilst at university in England. One of which was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do professionally. However, I did know I wanted to gain as many skills and experiences as possible in my 20s. I believed diversity was important and over the next decade through many ups and downs, I learned about teamwork, business, communication, failure and motivation.
After working in different industries and various sized companies, we can fast forward to today where I find myself in Germany, immersed in a new culture and at the start of a new entrepreneurial journey. September 2015 marks the first anniversary of when I founded Shhared, a platform that empowers people to collaborate, grow and be more successful at work by leveraging community.
Like many former Apple employees, I’ve learned a lot from the many beautiful minds there. Questioning the way things are and being positively disruptive are two behaviours that have stuck with me. I recently read an article about Steve Jobs (the legendary former Apple CEO) and the question he asked Jony Ive every day. Steve knew how to get the best out of people and especially Jony Ive so he pushed him to say ‘NO’ more often. For them at that time, ‘No’ was a word of great value. However, the important thing to note here is, this advice was tailor made for their ecosystem. Ive was and still is, in the centre of a very active and supportive innovative community. Most of us aren’t there just yet and this is why I totally disagree with Jobs.
The single most powerful word in any language right now is ‘YES’.
If you are reading this, the chances are you’re at the stage in your career and life where you’re still figuring out who you are to some extent, so listen up! Travel, take chances, try different things and don’t be afraid of the power of positivity — say YES more. Think of the biggest picture and build backwards, life is too short to focus on the by-product of hard work and good ideas. Money will come and go whether you are successful or not so drive for fulfilment and happiness through relationships.
Search for what you’re good at, where your strengths are and shape that into a career. I know a guy who loves football and had loads of playing talent. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite good enough to make it professionally so he gave up on the industry and now works in food service. I like a Big Mac as much as the next guy and I appreciate good service but the guy I’m referring to would have made a much better football coach, analyst or sports scientist but he said no.
Many of my business role models happen to be female (people such as Eileen Burbidge, Ursula Burns and Dr Sue Black). All at some point in their journeys had to make a choice — play the game and try to win or sit it out, which is a nice segue to one of my favourite Tim Cook quotes (the current Apple CEO). “The sidelines are not where you want to live your life. The world needs you in the arena.” So once again, go ahead be bold and say YES!