Whenever I need to take a break from reading and writing, I often re-watch a past program of The Charlie Rose Show. Among my favorites is one during which Bob Iger, Steve Wozniak, Marissa Mayer, Walter Isaacson, Marc Andreessen, Ken Auletta, Eric Schmidt, Lawrence Ellison, Walter Mossberg and David Carr share their thoughts and feelings about as well as their experiences with Steve Jobs, one of the most complicated people they or anyone else has ever known. He may have been “insanely” great but he could also be “insanely” rude, arrogant, inconsiderate….
To check out this remarkable video, please click here.
Adam Lashinsky is a senior editor at large for FORTUNE Magazine, where he covers Silicon Valley and Wall Street. Some of his cover-story subjects have included Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Google. He has written in-depth articles on Wells Fargo, Intel, Oracle, eBay, Twitter, and the venture-capital industry, as well as on topics ranging from San Francisco politics and oil-exploration technology to the post-Katrina economic recovery of New Orleans. In addition, Lashinsky is a Fox News Channel (FNC) contributor appearing on the following business shows: ”Bulls and Bears,” ”Cashin’ In,” “Cavuto on Business,” and “Your World with Neil Cavuto.” He is also the author of Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired – and Secretive – Company Really Works, published by Business Plus (2012).
Prior to joining FORTUNE, Lashinsky was a columnist for The San Jose Mercury News and TheStreet. Before moving to California, he was a reporter and editor for Crain’s Chicago Business. As a Henry Luce Scholar, he worked for a year in Tokyo as a reporter for the Nikkei Weekly, the English-language version of Japan’s main economic daily. He began his career in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Crain Communications. A native of Chicago, Lashinsky earned a degree in history and political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing Inside Apple, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? Please explain.
Lashinsky: It may sound corny, but my mother and father had the greatest influence. They got me started on a good path of loving to learn and instilling confidence in me. They both had a passion for words and ideas, and they also came from the school of parenting that supports their children in whatever it was they wanted to do. I don’t think they would have been pleased if I had chosen to be a beach bum. But they likely would have supported my decision to do it.
Morris: The greatest impact of your professional development?
Lashinsky: I’ve been blessed with great mentors and bosses for my entire career, which began in the summer of 1988 when I started writing opinion pieces for The Daily Illini at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill. My current boss, Andy Serwer, managing editor of Fortune Magazine, has been nothing but supportive and encouraging of me and my career at every turn. He is personally responsible for my turning my attention to Apple, beginning in 2008, which has changed the course of my career.
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning-point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow?
Lashinsky: Yes. In the summer between my junior and senior years at Illinois, where I was studying history and political science, I started contributing political columns to The Daily Illini, at the encouragement of my girlfriend at the time, who worked at the paper, and also became a professional journalist. I got a regular column in the fall term and fell in love with journalism. By the spring term of my senior year I was accepting any assignment I could in order to build up clips that I could show to prospective employers. I had been bitten by the journalism bug, and I have been enjoying the consequences ever since.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education in history and political science proven invaluable to what you have achieved thus far?
Lashinsky: History in particular gave me a good grounding in analytical thinking and gave me an ability to put important events in perspective. Whether or not the courses I took have benefited me directly, I can draw a straight line from my love of history to my interest in journalism as a career.
Morris: What are the most common misconceptions about the Silicon Valley culture? What, in fact, is true?
Lashinsky: It’s a misperception that everyone is stinking rich. Plenty of entrepreneurs fail. It’s true that failure is celebrated—or at least not stigmatized—in Silicon Valley. People truly take risks here, and that is exciting.
Morris: Of all that has changed in the business world during (let’s say) the last decade, which single development – in your opinion – has had the greatest impact? Please explain?
Lashinsky: Undoubtedly the Internet has constituted the biggest change. When I started in journalism we didn’t have email. We didn’t check Web sites. We didn’t have smartphones. Our entire mode of communicating has changed. And I’m not exactly ancient.
Morris: In your opinion, is launching a new company today more difficult, less difficult, or about the same as it was ten years ago? Please explain.
Lashinsky: Easier. But the precise dates you choose are relevant. It was extremely easy to start a company before 2001 because there was so much capital, and then difficult from 2001 to 2005 or so. But things are generally easier today because some of the building blocks of starting a company—computing power, storage capacity, software—have gotten anywhere from cheap to free.
Morris: Of all the U.S. presidents, which do you think was best qualified to be CEO of a “Fortune 50” company in the 21st century? Why?
Lashinsky: This question defies rational analysis, so instead I’ll go with a gut instinct and say Abraham Lincoln. Here’s why: Nothing in his background suggested he would be a great president, yet he was. He had a certain something, a magic, an instinct for what needed to be done. The great CEOs have this, and all the rest are less than great.
Morris: From your perspective as a journalist, what do you think will happen to (a) daily newspapers and (b) bound volumes?
Lashinsky: Newspapers eventually will go away. Which isn’t to say news will go away. We’ll have a painful and sad transition to whatever the digital product will look like—and then we’ll forget that we lamented their demise. If by bound volumes you mean books, I think essentially the same thing will happen, though books will survive longer because certain subjects—art, coffee table, kids—will lend themselves longer to the physical product.
Morris: What do you think will be the single greatest challenge that CEOs will face in (let’s say) the next 3-5 years? Any advice?
Lashinsky: Globalization means the importance of geographies changes more quickly than before. Just because a massive investment in China makes sense today doesn’t mean it will in five years. Advice: Subscribe to Fortune Magazine. We’ll do our best to keep you ahead of the curve.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Adam invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
If you have “insanely great” talents, you don’t need this book. Otherwise….
I recently read this book and What Would Drucker Do Now?, written by Rick Wartzman and also published by McGraw-Hill. Initially, I suspected that both were (or will become) part of a “What Would X Do?” series that might also include Sun Tzu, Socrates, Machiavelli, and Von Clauswitz or, within the domain of business, Henry Ford, Albert Sloan, one or both of the Thomas Watsons, and Walt Disney. It turns out, these two “What Would” books share little in common, except for the quality of their content and of their authors’ presentation of it.
Peter Sander devotes the first two chapters of his book to essential background information about Steve Jobs and Apple, then explores the meaning and significance of the book’s title in several different ways. Here are two. First, what he characterizes as “The Steve Jobs Leadership Model” in Chapter 3, one that consists of six “steps” or elements. He also includes a suggestion by Jean-Louis Gassée, former Apple VP: “Democracies don’t make great products – you need a competent tyrant.” Jobs was certainly both and that is hardly a head-snapping revelation. The historical details of the model have been known for decades. The same competent tyrant who visited Xerox PARC with Steve Wozniak in 1979 also introduced a series of “insanely great” Apple products 25-30 years later. For better or worse, Jobs really was literally “one of a kind.”
Hence the importance of Sander’s second approach: A series of “What Would Steve Jobs Do?” sections at the conclusion of Chapters 4-9 in which he suggests lessons to be learned from Jobs in six subject areas: Customer (Page 103), Vision (124-125), Culture (153-154), Product (171-172), Message (190-191), and Brand (205-206). Almost anyone who reads this book can follow the advice provided (e.g. “Think about customer pain and what causes it”) but few – if any – can make it happen in ways and to the extent Steve Jobs could…and did. Most of the admonitions will serve as reminders rather than as revelations. Fair enough.
For those who wish to know more about Steve Jobs, there is no shortage of other sources, notably Walter Isaacson’s biography. I also highly recommend Adam Lashinsky’s Inside Apple and Leander Kahney’s Inside Steve’s Brain.
How and why our location on “the introvert-extrovert spectrum” influences most (if not all) of our decisions and opinions
Throughout most of her book, Susan Cain takes a balanced approach to the immensely difficult task of examining the advantages and disadvantages of being primarily an introvert as well as those of being primarily an extrovert. I use the term “primarily” in the context of culture as well as one’s temperament, personality, preferences, tendencies, and (yes) volition. “If given a choice…” is a helpful phrase. Some people dread being the center of attention whereas the behavior of others indicates a pathological need for it. Not all introverts are shy and reluctant, however, and not all extroverts are bombastic and impulsive. Moreover, expediency can also come into play. As Walt Whitman affirms in “Song of Myself,” each person is “large”…and contains “multitudes.”
When writing her book, Cain was guided and informed by research in social science (e.g. Carl Jung, Jerome Kagan, Elaine Aron, C.A. Valentine, David Winter) supplemented by what she had learned from her own observations. She examines the inadequacies of several concepts such as charismatic leadership, the New Groupthink, the “Extrovert Ideal” (i.e. “the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight”), being or at least seeming “cool,” collaborative innovation, and being a more “assertive” student in the classroom. Historians’ accounts and media coverage must share at least some of the blame for widespread but remarkably durable misconceptions about eminent persons such as Warren Buffett, Dale Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Steven Spielberg, and Steve Wozniak. However great their impact on others may be, all are (or were) essentially introverted. What else do they share in common? They are renowned for being thoughtful, indeed reflective, tending to take more time than others do to make sound decisions and to reach correct conclusions.
Ironically, Carnegie is among the pioneers of self-help programs that emphasize “winning friends and influencing people,” the title of a book first published in 1936 that continues to be a bestseller. According to Cain, Carnagey (who later changed his name “likely to evoke Andrew Carnegie, the great industrialist”) was a good-natured but insecure high school student. He was skinny, unathletic, and fretful. His subsequent career from farmboy to salesman to public- speaking icon demonstrates a shift in America “from what influential cultural historian Warren Susman called a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality – and opened up a Pandora’s Box of personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover.”
By the end of the book, Cain seems to include in the introvert category almost anyone who is “reflective, cerebral, bookish, unassuming, sensitive, thoughtful, serious, contemplative, subtle, introspective, inner-directed, gentle, calm, modest, solitude-seeking, shy, risk-averse, thin-skinned.” Surely many (most?) of those who are extroverts also demonstrate one (if not several) of these attributes, at least occasionally. How would she categorize, for example, Richard Feynman?
The much more important point, in my opinion, is that assigning a label such as introvert or extrovert to someone denies the human complexity to which Whitman referred. Obviously, some people are more or less introverted or extroverted than others. It’s also obvious, that some situations (usually in a social context) require outgoing behavior whereas other situations (usually in an intellectual or spiritual context) require solitude, tranquility, perhaps even isolation
For me, some of Cain’s most valuable material is provided in Chapter 11, “On Cobblers and Generals” (especially pages 250-258) when she discusses the implications and consequences of many (most?) schools that are designed for extroverts. “The purpose of school should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself.” She goes on to observe, “The school environment can be highly unnatural, especially from the perspective of an introverted child who loves to work intensely on projects he cares about, and hang out with one or two friends at a time.” Cain offers several key points for teachers to consider (e.g. “Teach all kids to work independently”), followed by several key points for parents to consider if they able to select a school (e.g. one that hires and supports teachers “who seem to understand the shy/serious/introverted/sensitive temperament”). I agree with Cain that appearance is not reality…but the fact remains, that the misconceptions she repudiates in her book are no less “real” because they are wrong, nor are “the personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover.”
To innovate, Woz suggests that everyone start with a goal of what they want to achieve. They don’t need the roadmap on how to get there immediately; since if you have a full roadmap, your goal is probably too easy to achieve. Be an artist, he said, and figure out how to get to that goal in the best way you can. Be clever, and “write the book yourself”.
Not everyone is an innovator, Woz says. But every innovator is curious.
Click here for the full article, where you can also watch this video: Steve Wozniak reminisces about the personal computer revolution.
Actually, what Carmine Gallo examines with both rigor and eloquence are no longer “secrets,” nor are they insights of proprietary significance to Steve Jobs. On Pages 10-11, Gallo identifies and briefly discusses the seven principles in his book. For example, #1: “Do What You Love,” a portion of Teresa Amabile’s admonition expressed in an article that appeared in Harvard Business Review, “do what you love and love what you do” (1993); as for #3, “Kick-Start Your Brain,” Doug Hall wrote a book, Jump Start Your Business Brain, that was published in 2001 and he claimed no authorship of that admonition.
My point is, the value of Gallo’s book is not based on any the head-snapping revelations it provides; rather, on the analysis he offers of a truly unique person who co-founded a truly unique organization, and who then established and nourished a culture within which innovative thinking continues to produce, in Jobs’s familiar words, “insanely great ideas.” Ironically, it is possible but unlikely that Jobs and Apple would have succeeded to the extent they later did were it not for the “insanely great ideas” that he and Steve Wozniak encountered during a visit to Xerox PARC in 1979. Long ago, Thomas Edison observed, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” An “insanely great” idea will not achieve “insanely great” breakthrough success without “insanely great” execution.
I also presume to assert that, with all due respect to Jobs, credit for the extraordinary success that Apple has achieved thus far must be shared by hundreds (if not thousands) of people who have been or are now centrally involved at every management level and in all areas of operations. It comes as no a surprise what the principles are that have driven Jobs but they have also served as also the values of the company’s culture. Gallo devotes a separate chapter to each of these principles/core values — citing hundreds sources and real-world examples – that reveal their impact on what is done and how it is done throughout the entire Apple organization. He concludes each of Chapters 2-15 with three “iLessons” that emphasis key points in the material just covered. For example, in Chapter 14, The World’s Greatest Corporate Storyteller:
1. Tell your story early and often. Make communication a cornerstone of your brand every day.
2. Make your brand story consistent across all platforms: presentations, website, advertising, marketing materials, social media.
3. Think differently about presentation style. Study Steve Jobs, read design books, and pay attention to awe-inspiring presentations and what makes them different from the average PowerPoint show. Everyone has room to raise the bar on delivering presentations, but rising to the challenge requires a dedicated commitment to improve and an open mind.
Note: In this same chapter (i.e. #14), Gallo also identifies and discusses Three Keys to Communicating Value and Seven Guidelines for Selling Your Ideas the Steve Jobs Way. Of course, potentially valuable as this and other material throughout the book may be, it remains for those to read it to summon or develop the skills required to put it to effective use.
I also recommend Gallo’s The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, Alan Deutschman’s The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, Leander Kahney’s Inside Steve’s Brain, Expanded Edition.
I recently re-read two books written by Tom Kelley with Jonathan Littman, this one and The Art of Innovation. In both, Kelley provides a wealth of information and counsel which can help any decision-maker to “drive creativity” through her or his organization but only if initiatives are (a) a collaboration which receives the support and encouragement of senior management (especially of the CEO) and (b) sufficient time is allowed for those initiatives to have a measurable impact. There is a distressing tendency throughout most organizations to rip out “seedlings” to see how well they are “growing.” Six Sigma programs offer a compelling example. Most are abandoned within a month or two. Why? Unrealistic expectations, cultural barriers (what Jim O’Toole characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom”), internal politics, and especially impatience are among the usual suspects. That said, I agree with countless others (notably Teresa Amabile, Clayton Christensen, Guy Claxton, Edward de Bono, Peter Drucker, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Michael Michalko, Michael Ray, and Roger von Oech) that innovation is now the single most decisive competitive advantage. How to establish and then sustain that advantage?
In an earlier work, The Art of Innovation, Kelley shares IDEO’s five-step methodology: Understand the market, the client, the technology, and the perceived constraints on the given problem; observe real people in real-life situations; literally visualize new-to-the-world concepts AND the customers who will use them; evaluate and refine the prototypes in a series of quick iterations; and finally, implement the new concept for commercialization. With regard to the last “step”, as Warren Bennis Patricia and Ward Biederman explain in Organizing Genius, Apple executives immediately recognized the commercial opportunities for PARC’s technology. Larry Tesler (who later left PARC for Apple) noted that Jobs and colleagues (especially Wozniak) “wanted to get it out to the world.” But first, obviously, the challenge was to create that “it” which they then did.
In this volume, as Kelley explains, his book is “about innovation with a human face. [Actually, at least ten...hence its title.] It’s about the individuals and teams that fuel innovation inside great organizations. Because all great movements are human-powered.” He goes on to suggest that all good working definitions of innovation pair ideas with action, “the spark with fire. Innovators don’t just have their heads in the clouds. They also have their feet on the ground.” Kelley cites and then examines several exemplary (“great”) organizations that include Google, W.L. Gore & Associates, the Gillette Company, and German retailer Tchibo. I especially appreciate the fact that Kelley focuses on the almost unlimited potential for creativity of individuals and the roles which they can play, “the hats they can put on, the personas they can adopt…[albeit] unsung heroes who work on the front lines of entrepreneurship in action, the countless people and teams who make innovation happen day in and day out.”
Because organizations need individuals who are savvy about the counterintuitive process of how to move ideas forward, Kelley recommends three “Organizing Personas”: The Hurdler, The Collaborator, and The Director.
Because organizations also need individuals and teams who apply insights from the learning roles and channel the empowerment from the organizing roles to make innovation happen, Kelley recommends four “Building personas”: The Experience Architect, The Set Designer, The Caregiver, and The Storyteller. Note both the sequence, interrelatedness and, indeed, the interdependence of these ten “personas.”
What Kelley achieves in this volume is to develop in much greater depth than do von Oech and de Bono what are essentially ten different perspectives. He does so, brilliantly, by focussing the bulk of his attention of those who, for example, seek and explore new opportunities to reveal breakthrough insights…and while doing so wear (at least metaphorically) one of de Bono’s hats (probably the green one). Kelley devotes a separate chapter to each of the ten “personas,” including real-world examples of various “unsung heroes who work on the front lines of entrepreneurship in action, the countless people and teams who make innovation happen day in and day out.”