We live in a world that is inundated with technology, from the cars we drive and the devices we use to communicate to the electricity and plumbing that we have come to take for granted. It is the gift of mankind to innovate, and often we do so in order to make our lives easier. But technology can also make us lazy. And if we want to continue along the path of innovation, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. Here are just a few quotes from legendary leaders in technology, many of whom worked their whole lives to create the technologies that we have come to rely on.
- “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs. There is a reason why Apple products are so fanatically beloved in a consumer society that thrives on competition; it’s because of Steve Jobs and his commitment to excellence. He not only strove to fill needs that were as yet unmet, but he endeavored to create more efficient products and offer better customer service at every turn. And he made sure that his employees knew that they were expected to follow his example.
- “I am never really satisfied that I understand anything; because, understand it well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand…” – Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace. This quote comes from a woman who is credited with helping to create the first computer program. It just goes to show that even those in society who we deem to be of the highest intellect still doubt themselves, come up against roadblocks, and have to work hard to reach their goals. Byron dealt with complex mathematical equations that were the basis for modern computing and even she knew that there was always more to learn.
- “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” – Bill Gates. This mogul of modern computing may be best known for his work with Microsoft, but he and his wife, Melinda, are also devoted philanthropists who set up a foundation committed to educating children around the world. So it’s not surprising that he values the human element in academia even more highly than the technological component.
- “Failure is just the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford. Every paragon of the entrepreneurial spirit has failed, and many have done so regularly and spectacularly. What makes these people different from everyone else is that they take their missteps in stride and use every failure to improve in the future.
- “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison. It’s funny how often Edison is quoted as extolling the virtues of hard work when so many of his patents were actually invented by other people. He apparently forgot to throw in the percentage where you submit a patent before your boss steals your idea out from under you. In any case, he was credited with quite a few inspirational quotes during his time, although this clever quip is one of the best known. And he’s not entirely wrong. Many people are inspired by ideas that would improve existing technology or address an unmet need in the marketplace, but few are willing to put in the work to bring their ingenious ideas to market.