6 minutes of Steve Jobs speaking about innovation and creativity in 1981, at age 26.
First, here’s the link. It’s in Quicktime Audio (.mov).
I guess I’m going to have to quote most of the thing, it’s so brilliant.
A lot of stuff here is rags to riches, I was listening back there. You sort-of want to be careful about that, because there’s a lot of people who’ve been real successful in other terms that aren’t here, because maybe they didn’t make a lot of money, that you want to listen to very carefully.
On innovation and creativity:
A lot of it is the ability to zoom out, like you’re in a city, and you could look at the whole thing from about the 80th floor down at the city, and while other people are trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B reading these stupid little maps, you can just see it all out in front of you, you can just see the whole thing and you can make connections that just seem obvious, because you can see the whole thing.
But the key thing is that if you’re gonna make connections—and being innovative is to connect two experiences together—you have to not have the same bag of experiences as everyone else does, or else you’re gonna make the same connections, and then you won’t be innovative, and then nobody will give you an award. So what you gotta do is get different experiences than the normal course of events.
And the funny thing about being bright is everyone puts you on this path, you know, to go to high school, go to college, I’ve heard about some kid that’s 14 and on his way to Stanford, and that’s great, that’s sort-of out of the ordinary. But you might want to think about going to Paris and being a poet for a few years, you know, or you might want to go to a third world country, I’d highly advise that, and see people and lepers with their hands falling off and all that stuff, it’s very much so worth doing, you know. Fall in love with two people at once.
Walt Disney took LSD, did you know that? He did, once. And that’s where the idea for Fantasia came from. It’s true. And you can go hear stories about all these people, and the key thing is they had a variety of experiences, which they could draw upon in order to try and solve a problem or attack a particular dilemma in a kinda unique way.
And so one of the things that you’ll get a lot of pressure to do is to go in one very clear direction and believe in God and all that other stuff, and that’s great, but don’t ever walk by a zen buddhist because of that, sit down and talk, and buy him lunch.
The most ecstatic thing in the world is to put something back into that pool.