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Steve Jobs built Apple using a simple piece of advice from his dad: ‘He loved doing things right’



Steve Jobs built Apple using a simple piece of advice from his dad: ‘He loved doing things right’

Some fathers teach their kids how to shoot three-pointers or make hamburgers. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ dad Paul taught him how to build a fence around their home in Mountain View, California.

The process taught him how to be detail-oriented, a mindset he enforced at Apple, Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in 2011.

Paul told his son, “You’ve got to make the back of the fence, that nobody will see, just as good looking as the front of the fence,” Isaacson recounted. “Even though nobody will see it, you will know, and that will show that you’re dedicated to making something perfect.”

As Jobs told Isaacson, “He loved doing things right.”

At Apple, Jobs made sure every detail was of the highest quality, Isaacson wrote in the “Steve Jobs” biography. He insisted that the insides of microchips looked beautiful, and that every screw “had expensive plating.”

Jobs said maintaining that standard of beauty helped him “sleep well at night,” he told Playboy magazine in 1985.

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall,” he said, echoing his father.  

Jobs isn’t the only person whose father shaped their lives and careers. Here are five more people who succeeded by following advice from their dads:

Mark Cuban: Your time is highly valuable

For much of Mark Cuban’s childhood, his dad Norton worked 60 hours per week for a company that upholstered cars outside of Pittsburgh, Cuban told CNBC Make It in February. Sometimes, Cuban went to work with him and helped sweep floors.

The lesson was implicit: This is what you have to do when you work for someone else, Cuban said.

“This time wasn’t spent to learn about what my dad did, but to learn that his job didn’t have a future,” Cuban said. “His time was never his own … he wanted me to create my own path.”

The experience made Cuban want to be an entrepreneur, so he could make and live by his own schedule, he said in a MasterClass course earlier this year.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson: Whatever you do, give as much effort as you can

Whether he was wrestling, acting or playing college football, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson kept one piece of advice, from his father, at the center of his mind. “Give every f—ing ounce of effort you can; to give the best performance you can give,” Johnson wrote in a 2017 Instagram post.

“Back when I was a punk kid, my dad would take me to the gym on weekends and kick the s–t [out of] me in the weight room and on the wrestling mats,” Johnson wrote. “He’d say, ‘You didn’t get up early to come here and give half-ass effort. Leave it all in the gym.”

Sara Blakely: Failure should be encouraged

Growing up, billionaire Spanx founder Sara Blakely’s dad often asked her a question at the dinner table, she told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in 2013: “What have you failed at this week?”

“My dad growing up encouraged me and my brother to fail,” Blakely said. “The gift he was giving me is that failure is [when you are] not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”

The advice got Blakely through the ups and downs of her early career. She wanted to be a lawyer, but “basically bombed the LSAT twice,” she said. She tried out to be Goofy at Disney World, but proved too short for the part, and was offered a chipmunk role instead, she added.

Instead, Blakely started selling fax machines door-to-door — and eventually began prototyping her own shapewear, she said.

Marc Randolph: 9 rules for success

After graduating college, Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph got a “handwritten list of instructions” from his dad, he wrote in a 2019 LinkedIn post.

  1. Do at least 10% more than you are asked.
  2. Never, ever, to anybody present as fact opinions on things you don’t know. Takes great care and discipline.
  3. Be courteous and considerate always — up and down.
  4. Don’t knock, don’t complain — stick to constructive, serious criticism.
  5. Don’t be afraid to make decisions when you have the facts on which to make them.
  6. Quantify where possible.
  7. Be open-minded but skeptical.
  8. Be prompt.

Randolph hung the original copy next to his bathroom mirror and passed the advice down to his children, he wrote.

He also added one more rule, he wrote in a separate blog post: “If you apprentice yourself to the smartest people who will take you seriously, you will learn at every step.”

Tony Hawk: Save and invest your money wisely

As a teenage pro-skateboarder, Tony Hawk out-earned his high school teachers. His income, composed of prize money and sponsorships, funded frivolous purchases.

“I would go to Sharper Image and go crazy and buy, like, the new small camera or the tanning bed,” he told Make It in 2018.

It was Hawk’s dad Frank who convinced the then-17-year-old to use some of his money buy a house, he added.

“My dad was the one who encouraged me to put [my money] away, in terms of investing in a house,” said Hawk. “That was one of the smartest things I ever did, because it definitely put my money away [and] made it grow eventually.”

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