Hire Smart People and Let Them Tell You What To Do — Just Like Steve Jobs Did

Timeless hiring advice from Steve Jobs

Every successful founder talks about how at a certain point in a companies history, people become your best capital and your biggest asset. And if you get it wrong, it is literally the difference between success and failure.

That’s right, the most important asset at your company isn’t something you can put your hands on. It isn’t equipment or the physical plant, and it isn’t data, technology, or intellectual property. The most valuable part of your company is the people — the human capital — and any plans to move your business forward have to start there.

Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” The smartest leaders have the uncanny ability to hire people who are much smarter than they are, who will push them through diverse thinking and drive their business forward.

The 50 Most Inspirational Company Culture Quotes of All-Time

Empowering People To Be All They Can Be

The type of people Steve Jobs hired

Steve Jobs was immensely successful at hiring rockstar employees because twenty years ago, leadership was all about command and control — being decisive and authoritative. The leaders of the past was expected to have all the answers and tell their employees what to do. Employees had follow the rules, do what they were told, and pay their dues until they were promoted to a position of authority.

Trust + Talent + Tenacity + Training = Great Employees

Now this doesn’t mean that Jobs wasn’t in control. He had an incredible work ethic. Jobs told his biographer that when he returned to Apple in 1996, he worked from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. He worked tirelessly, and suffered from kidney stones. But he insisted on motivating his company by consistently showing up and pushing people to make the best products possible, and they respected him for it.

Jobs had a very similar mindset to me, which is, “I am a true believer that when you get comfortable, you start to die. If you aren’t doing things to make yourself better, then you’re slowly getting worse.” — Peter Schroeder

The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs

Love The Work You Do

Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life

Think back to when you were a little kid. Remember when people would always bend down on a knee and ask about what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you remember what your answer to that question was?

Yes, work and play are two vastly different things. Work requires exertion and effort in order to pay the bills and put food on the table, whereas play is all about fun and enjoyment. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to incorporate some of that joy and passion into your daily routine. But, that definitely doesn’t mean that your entire career will be a walk in the park.

As Steve Jobs once said, “people with passion can change the world.” Successful entrepreneurs are abundantly passionate — but not necessarily about the product. They’re passionate about their missions. They’re passionate about what their products or services mean to the lives of their customers. They’re passionate about changing the world or disrupting an established category.

For example, Jobs wasn’t passionate about computer hardware. He was passionate about building tools that would help people unleash their personal creativity. What do you want badly enough that you “don’t have a choice” but to follow it?

Jobs was obsessed with design, so much so he took a calligraphy course just for the fun of it. It’s ultimately what he meant when he said to follow your heart and trust that the dots will connect in the future. “This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life,” he said.

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Steve Jobs on changing the world

Even as Apple became corporate, Jobs asserted his rebel and counterculture streak in its ads, as if to proclaim that he was still a hacker and a hippie at heart. The famous “1984” ad showed a renegade woman outrunning the thought police to sling a sledgehammer at the screen of an Orwellian Big Brother. And when he returned to Apple, Jobs helped write the text for the “Think Different” ads:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes…”

If there was any doubt that, consciously or not, he was describing himself, he dispelled it with the last lines: “While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Be the change.

About the Author

Peter Schroeder is the Head of Marketing at Northpass — a modern LMS (Learning Management System.) You can follow Peter on Twitter or LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on everyday workforce tips.


Hire Smart People and Let Them Tell You What To Do — Just Like Steve Jobs Did was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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