Lessons learned from Shakespeare, Bill Clinton, and Steve Jobs

Our house is quite busy this week. My daughter has not only been memorizing lines for her role as Olivia in Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, but also she has been making all the costumes for the actors as well.

When you study Shakespeare, you soon realize how revolutionary he was, and I think creatives today can learn a lot from him.

The English language owes an outstanding debt to Shakespeare. He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original.

In the Twelfth Night, here are some of the words he created:

  • Improbable Fiction
  • Laugh yourself into stitches
  • Out of the jaws of death
  • consanguineous
  • control (n.)
  • dexterously
  • hobnob
  • lustrous
  • malignancy
  • to negotiate
  • whirligig


I think what creatives today can take away from Shakespeare is the importance of innovation rather than just variations within a style.

Shakespeare created “Advertising”–that is, he made the word. Likewise, photographers use the word “exposure” extensively in their craft.

At the root of his creation of words is a problem. I believe Shakespeare was solving the problem of how to talk about life when the terms just didn’t exist. He was helping the audience understand a storyline by addressing the lack of words to describe something.

The key to our success is our ability to tackle new problems and develop new solutions.

“I feel your pain” – Bill Clinton.

Your business success requires your ability to have genuine empathy for a client and the struggles they are going through. Your ability to communicate that empathy is key to your success. For example, bill Clinton’s huge debate moment was when he could connect with the American people, talk about their problems, and connect with them emotionally.

After the debate Clinton shortened this into his slogan, “I feel your pain.”


Steve Jobs, like Clinton, articulated the problem someone experiences with mobile phones before his introducing the iPhone.

“Business School 101 graph of the smart axis and the easy-to-use axis, phones, regular cell phones are kinda right there, they’re not so smart, and they’re – you know – not so easy to use.”

Jobs, like Clinton, then talked about how Apple was the right company to tackle the problem because it had done it before.

“We solved it in computers 20 years ago. We solved it with a bit-mapped screen that could display anything we want. Put any user interface up. And a pointing device. We solved it with the mouse. Right?”

Steve Jobs roll outs of new products are studied today by marketing experts just like we study Shakespeare in schools.

Just watch Steve Jobs bring up problem after problem and then show how the new iPhone will handle this for you. While this was an hour presentation, people were on the edge of their seats because he continued to introduce a new problem and the solution to that problem. The iPhone was to revolutionize how you will do life–and it did just that for our culture.

What Problems Are You Solving?

You want to be successful–then solve the problems of others. Those who rise to the top are those that serve others.

Did you know that your problems tend to disappear when you focus on others’ issues and help solve them? The key to your happiness is to serve others and make them happy.