Steve Jobs: An Impossible Entrepreneurial Role Model


On August 24, Steve Jobs stepped down from his position as Apple’s CEO citing that he could no longer fulfill his duties. Just as Apple became the most valuable corporation in the world based on market capitalization, the man who is responsible for its success stepped down.

What ensued in the media was a memorializing of Jobs as the most innovative CEO with focus on his accomplishments. Amid celebration of his career, James Warren in the New York Times likened Jobs to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. While Jobs’ work is undoubtedly inspiring, the godly portrayal of the man runs the risk of sending a message to entrepreneurs that his path should serve as an example to follow. Instead of trying to be the next Steve Jobs, his legacy should influence people to do what they want to do rather than living on adventurous paths modeled after Jobs.

With article titles like, “What Makes Steve Jobs Great” and “It’s Time to Learn to Think Like Steve Jobs,” people have gone into a frenzy, hailing him as the ultimate innovator who got to where he is today by taking an unconventional path. In Jobs’ well-known commencement address (video below) at Stanford in 2005, he talked about never graduating from college and shared many moving anecdotes of not having any food and the price tag of a degree outweighing the benefits. While this may have worked for Jobs, dropping out of college and starting a company in your parents’ garage cannot serve as a script for everyone.

It is an accomplishment to not be inflated by success, but Jobs was head of a multi-billion dollar corporation. He steered Apple to accomplish the goals of gaining an addicted following, employing marketing, and making a profit regardless of their unassuming mantra. Jobs did not simply do this by having an inspiring, risk-taking story; he did it by following a trail led by his passion for innovation.

This passion is what young entrepreneurs should take away from Jobs’ story. Not everyone can drop out of college and sleep on friend’s floors or be fired only to come back and save a corporation from bankruptcy. Those are impossible standards to meet.

What young entrepreneurs can do is realize that all paths to success are different, and Jobs is the best example of this. Most people do need to get an education, work their way up a corporate ladder, or wear a suit.

In the Stanford address he told the new graduates, “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Rather than listen to the eulogies of Jobs’ unbelievable endeavors, young entrepreneurs should listen to the man himself and not use his story, but create their own.

Photo Credit: acaben