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Insightful Advice from Steve Jobs: “Don’t Settle”

The late Steve Jobs may be best known for engineering one of the most remarkable business turnarounds in history at Apple Inc.. As the Chief Executive Officer at Apple in 2007, he introduced the popular iPhone device which heralded the massive rise of smartphones in the world. By February 2011, smartphone shipments would go on to exceed the shipments for personal computers in less than four years.

In work and life: “Don’t settle”

Needless to say, there may be valuable business lessons we can learn from Jobs. One of his best known speeches was the commencement speech that he gave at Stanford in 2005. In particular, this was what Jobs had to say about work and life (the emphasis in the quotes are mine):

 “You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

While Jobs was referring to finding the right work and the right companion for life, the same mantra could be useful in investing as well. His take on vigorously curating for the best you can find — “Keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle” — can be applied for picking the best investment ideas as well.

In the age of the internet, our lives can be engulfed with numerous investing ideas which fly at us from different sources every single day. In fact, at the time of writing (5 November 2014, 12:32pm), shares of aircraft engineering outfit SIA Engineering Company Limited (SGX: S59) is down 6.5%.

The thing is, share price movements from different companies like what we see here is hardly new. There will be more opportunites (“share price drops”) coming at us in abundance everyday. Some ideas will mediocre. Some might not be priced right.

The more important consideration is this: are these investment ideas great enough for your portfolio?

Going by Job’s mantra, we should focus on is being more discerning with the investment opportunities which appear everyday. It follows that if we look towards holding the company for the long term – or in Job’s parlance: “filling a large part of your life” – we might find better success by focusing on the quality of ideas which filter through into our portfolio.

Foolish take away

The allegory to picking shares is this: the choice remains with us on whether we should to spend time studying an idea, or to put money behind it. By inviting every investment idea to our portfolio, we run the risk that is similar to getting indigestion from trying every dish on an all-you-can-eat buffet. The choice is ours to be more discerning. We owe it to ourselves be patient enough to pick the best ideas out there.

Or in other words — “Don’t Settle”. Learn more quotable quotes through a FREE subscription to Take Stock SingaporeSign up here to The Motley Fool’s weekly investing newsletter that will teach you how to GROW your wealth in the years ahead.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Chin Hui Leong owns shares in Apple.