Think Different

Michael Strauss on the Lessons We Can Learn from Steve Jobs’ Entrepreneurial Success

What do you think it takes to become a successful entrepreneur?

Apple's legendary co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, died on Oct. 5, 2011.
Apple's legendary co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, died on Oct. 5, 2011.

Decisiveness? Thinking outside the box? Not taking ‘no’ for an answer? These are just a few of the measures of an entrepreneur.

When I meet with students who are thinking of starting a business or want to pursue an idea, this is what I tell them: You have to stick it out. Believe in yourself. And you need to know how to get thrown out the front door and come back through the back door, smiling.

Reflecting on Steve Jobs’ career, from the time he started Apple in his garage up until his death last week, you see the person I described above.

You probably all read about his life history several times in the past week. Suffice it to say, Jobs was so successful because he possessed those entrepreneurial qualities. A bit strange, drumming to his own beat, but laser-focused and always confident he knew what we wanted.

What lessons can those of you embarking on an entrepreneurial venture learn from Jobs? Realize that it’s critical to believe in yourself and to believe what you are trying to accomplish is different, better and desired by the world. Realize you need to be able to communicate that vision to as many people as possible, stick to your message and not get diverted. You need to plow through brick walls. You need to be able to be kicked to the ground, jump right back to your feet and keep going. You need to be able to make tough decisions and defend them. You need to almost never give up.

If you can look in the mirror and say to yourself, “That’s me,” you have a shot at being successful.

Michael Strauss is the director of student advising and administration at YU’s Syms School of Business. He also serves as entrepreneur-in-residence and clinical professor of management at Syms. Strauss is a veteran of both large and small companies, having served in senior management roles at several companies including American Express. He is currently CEO of an advanced start-up company that he founded several years ago, BSafe Electrix, Inc., and chairman of Sherwood Consulting Group, Inc.

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