Steve Jobs’ life is a story of success, and has become a source of inspiration for many tech pros across the world. His inspirational speeches have become a cornerstone upon which many young people have built their own careers. The famous “Stay hungry, stay foolish” one has probably changed our society forever and gave us a fundamental lesson: that if you have a talent, you must trust yourself and your ability to keep going forward to achieve your goals.
Jobs’ early life was full of financial struggles, and his path to success paved with hardships that he always met with a fierce scowl. We know all about what happened when he was fired by the Board of Directors of Apple in 1985 and the subsequent events that put him at the head of the world-famous animation studio Pixar. But we know (or seem to care) much less about how he got his first job at Hewlett-Packard (HP) when he was only 12 years old.
In a nutshell, he simply picked up the phone and cold called them. He was looking for some spare electronic parts for a school project, and boldly decided that the best person who could provide him with them was none other than co-founder and president William Hewlett. The high-level exec was so amused and impressed by that smart 12-year-old boy that he took him seriously, gave him the requested parts, and offered Jobs a summer internship at HP. He worked “on the assembly line putting nuts and bolts together on frequency counters” as Jobs recalled during a 1994 interview. “He got me a job in the place that built them and I was in heaven.”
That internship revolutionized Jobs’ entire life. It was there that he met a young Steve Wozniak, an engineer five years his senior. The two became great friends, and we all know how much they changed the world several years later in 1975 when they started Apple in Steve’s parents’ garage. Personally, I understand Jobs’ story very well, since I got my first prestigious internship in the same exact way – by asking for it directly to the person who was in charge.
The lesson here is that a lot of opportunities are missed in life because we’re scared to face a refusal. There’s nothing to lose in asking – we will face disappointment so many other times in life, that being rejected one more time won’t change things in any significant way. What Jobs taught us is that we’ve only got one life to live. And it’s too short to risk losing a potentially life-changing opportunity because we couldn’t muster the courage to do the simplest thing ever: open our mouths and ask for what we want.