Steve Jobs – How To Be Intelligent

Steve Jobs Academy of Achievement

“Have you ever thought about what it is to be intelligent?” Steve once said at The American Academy of Achievement many years ago. Speaking on general success, as well as life impacts on the world, innovation and creativity, Steve explained his views on what it really is to be intelligent.


To begin with, Steve suggests how memory is often an important and in fact vital factor of intelligence, saying “It seems to me, a lot of it seems to be memory.” Although this is not his main point, it is certainly one to recognise.

After all, every bit of information we know is stored in our memory. It’s something that a lack of would destroy us, but that with good levels of can also enhance and improve us.

Zooming Out – Seeing the Bigger Picture & Making Innovative Connections

After briefly covering memory and its importance to intelligence, Jobs goes on to his main point of intelligence, zooming out.

“But a lot of it seems to be the ability to sort of zoom out.” Says Steve, “Like your in a city and you can look at the whole thing from about the 80th floor down at the city, and while others are trying to work out how to get from Point A to Point B reading these stupid little maps, you can see it all out in front of you, you can see the whole thing and you can make connections that seem obvious because you can see them.”

This seems self explanatory and makes absolute sense. With the intelligent ability to zoom in and out in any situation (a skill Steve himself will most certainly of gained, perfected and valued in his life time of working and managing at Apple and other companies) you can make much greater connections and thus better decisions that are innovative and more focused for success.

He goes on to say and joke, “Thats why bright people feel guilty a lot, because they come up with stuff that they just say ‘hey look at this’ and other people give them these dumb awards, and they feel, funny.”

Related Reading: Six Ways to Succeed like Steve Jobs


Steve had a very experience packed life, being adopted as a child, brought up in the thriving tech scene of silicon valley, following the religion of Buddhism since he was a teen and visiting India’s poorest area’s as a young adult, as well as of course going on to run and manage the hugely successful Apple, Pixar and various other companies alike.

Steve believes that a varied set of experiences are the key to making intelligently innovative and creative connections, saying, “The key thing is, if you’re going to make connections that are innovative, your going to connect two experiences together, and so you have to not have the same bag of experiences as everyone else does, or else your going to make the same connections, then you wouldn’t be innovative… And, then, no one would give you an award.”

So moving forward he says “So what you’ve got to do is get different experiences. Erm, then the normal course of events.” He follows on from this with a few comments about the ‘normal path’ that most intelligent people are put on from school, to college, to university and although that can be great he says, he recommends people do some other things out of the ordinary.

“Think about going to Paris and being a poet for a few years yuno, or you might wanna go to a third world country, I’d highly advise that.” He says, recalling on his teenage years when he went to some of the poorest parts of India as a Buddhist at the age of around 19.


So to be intelligent you have to of course have a good or at least decent memory to remember everything in life you learn. But in conclusion, you must also be able to zoom out of situations and make innovative connections based on the varied and unusual experiences you gain.

And so all in all, it seems, intelligence for success can be gained and is not only something that you are necessarily born with.

Wrote by Joe Brown