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.
Here’s the July, 2012 New York Times Hardcover Business Books Best Sellers List – Steve Jobs Still at the Top
(Scroll down to see the actual list).
After a few month’s absence, the New York Times has returned with its list of Hardcover Business Books Best Sellers.
As I always note, this is the list that feels “most accurate” to me. The weekly lists, and the hourly updated Amazon lists, represent too narrow a time horizon, in my opinion. This list takes a longer, month-long view.
This month, we are seeing some titles that reflect our current political season. And a couple of others definitely reflect the ongoing financial turmoil.
And, the list demonstrates the lasting power of the Steve Jobs book. (I presented my synopsis of this book back in the January, 2012, First Friday Book Synopsis gathering. Here it is, in July, still atop the list).
There are a couple of new titles that will make our list of “possibles” for our First Friday Book Synopsis. For readers unaware of our event, my colleague Karl Krayer and I have presented one synopsis each of a business book, every month, since April, 1998. We deliver these presentations at a monthly breakfast meeting in Dallas – open to all. There aren’t many prominent or influential titles that we have missed over these 14+ years. You can always check on the titles for the upcoming month’s event by clicking on our home page. (We usually upload the next month by about the 10th day of the current month).
From this month’s list, we have presented our synopses of the following titles at our First Friday Book Synopsis gatherings: #1, Steve Jobs; # 2, Imagine; #3, Power of Habit; #5, Thinking Fast and Slow; and #14, Strengths Based Leadership.
You can see the full list, with more description, at the New York Times site by clicking here. (And, here is the July, 2012 list of the top ten Paperbacks Business Books Best Sellers, also from the New York Times. We have presented synopses of #1, Outliers; #2, Tipping Point; #3, Freakonomics; #4, Drive; #6, Checklist Manifesto; #8, Moneyball; and #9, The Big Short).
You can purchase most of our synopses, with audio recordings of our presentations plus our comprehensive handouts, from our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
Here is the July, 2012 New York Times Hardcover Business Books Best Sellers List.
|STEVE JOBS, by Walter Isaacson.|
|IMAGINE, by Jonah Lehrer.|
|POWER OF HABIT, by Charles Duhigg.|
|UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES, by Edward Conard. (Portfolio/Penguin, $27.95.) A former managing director of Bain Capital and a major Romney contributor argues that growing income inequality shows the American economy is working. (†)|
|THINKING, FAST AND SLOW, by Daniel Kahneman.|
|CHARGE, by Brendon Burchard.|
|PRICE OF INEQUALITY, by Joseph E. Stiglitz.|
|SCREWED!, by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann.|
|HOW WILL YOU MEASURE YOUR LIFE?, by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon.|
|END THIS DEPRESSION NOW!, by Paul Krugman.|
|$100 STARTUP, by Chris Guillebeau.|
|REAL CRASH, by Peter D. Schiff.|
|HOW EXCELLENT COMPANIES AVOID DUMB THINGS, by Neil Smith with Patricia O’Connell.|
|STRENGTHS-BASED LEADERSHIP, by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. (Gallup, $24.95.)|
|WINNER TAKE ALL, by Dambisa Moyo.|
“I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
As Hannibal Lector explains to Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, the Roman emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, endorsed the idea of focusing on the essence of a subject. The French later formulated the concept of the précis. Still later, Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, “I would not give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.” All this serves to create a context, a frame of reference, for Ken Segall’s brilliant analysis of what drove Steve Jobs to create an insanely great company that continues to produce insanely great products.
As Segall explains, “Simplicity doesn’t spring to life with the right combination of molecules, water, and sunlight. It needs a champion – someone who’s willing to stand up for its principles and strong enough to resist the overtures of Simplicity’s evil twin, Complexity. It needs someone who’s willing to guide a process with both head and heart.” These are among the passages, themes, and concepts that caught my eye throughout Segall’s lively and eloquent narrative:
o Standards Aren’t for Bending (Pages 15-16)
o Small Groups = Better [Collaborative] Relationships (35- 38)
o The Perils of Proliferation (52-54)
o Thinking Different vs. Thinking Crazy (74-77)
o Simplicity’s Unfair Advantage (93-95)
o Never Underestimate the Power of a Word (123-125)
o Death by Formality (132-135)
o Technology with Feeling (138-140)
o Ignoring the Naysayers: Inventing the Apple Store (180-184)
I have read all of the books written about Steve Jobs and Apple and reviewed most of them. In my opinion, with the exception of Walter Isaacson’s definitive biography, none provides a more thorough explanation of Jobs’s values, standards, and motivations than does this one. As Segall suggests, Jobs’s greatest achievement is that he “built a monument to Simplicity.” As Jobs invariably had the last word at the conclusion of conversations and meetings, it seems appropriate that he also have the last word now: “Simplicity can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Everybody probably has a bad boss horror story or two. And there are some genuine horror stories out there.
But, there are good bad tough bosses and bad tough bosses. What is the difference? One difference may be this: is the boss tough because the end result is worth all the coaching, coaxing, demonstrating, demanding, until the people get it right?
I think Steve Jobs and Twyla Tharp are two great exemplars of this kind of tough boss.
I recently ran across this wonderful 2006 article about the Kennedy Center Honoree Twyla Tharp, To Dance Beneath the Diamond Skies by Alex Witchel. Here are some key excerpts:
But it is probably time to say this: There was not a person in that theater, including the 19 performers, musicians and production staff, who did not admire Tharp. Those new to her are scared of her, those used to her are over her, because they know that behind the barking lies a devotion to them, to the work — always, always the work — that is religious in its fervor. Yes, she is a control freak, a perfectionist, a zealot in forming a vision and stopping at nothing to see it realized. But when it is realized, when her dances are good-better-best, flying off the stage like some biblical fire on a mountaintop, there is nothing in the world like them. Twenty-three years ago, Robert Joffrey said that Tharp’s work “didn’t look like anyone else’s.” It still doesn’t.
“There is nothing in the world like them.” The end result may just be worth the cost it took to get there. She simply made the best better. And she also made the “average” much better than ever before. In her book, The Collaborative Habit, Tharp wrote:
As a choreographer, my task is to make the best possible work with the dancers I find in the room on any given day.
This is simply the greatest description of the day-to-day work of being the boss I have ever read. It is the job of the boss (manager, supervisor) to make the best possible work with the people in the room, on the team, at any given time.
By the way, there is a wonderful story in the article about the time Twyla Tharp had to show Baryshnikov how it needed to be done:
Huot sat at one of the computers and played footage of Baryshnikov in rehearsal. “What’s that?” Tharp asked shortly. “This is the one where he can’t do what you do,” Huot said, his tone gently teasing. “It’s your favorite thing in the world, which is why I kept it for you.” On the tape, Baryshnikov held a cigarette, shirtless, as Tharp demonstrated the steps. Hers were vivid, crisp. His were blurry, indistinct. Impatiently, she showed him again. He turned away.
“That’s right, go pout,” Tharp said mockingly to the screen. The next shots were of him in performance, his steps breathtaking. “Yeah, he got it,” Tharp said.
She knew how to do the steps; she demonstrated the steps, and she pushed Baryshnikov until he “got it.”
…To be a Tharp dancer is to master complex, intricate movements and steps that can defy gravity — in 1975 Baryshnikov told The Times: “It is very difficult to learn her steps.. . .One variation alone took me three weeks to learn, working a few hours every day.”
Regarding Jobs, the stories are endless, and somewhat legendary. He certainly could be something of a world-class pain to work with. But, he too could bring out the very best in people – more than they knew they had in them. Consider these revealing excerpts from the Walter Isaacson book, Steve Jobs:
For all of his obnoxious behavior, Jobs also had the ability to instill in his team an esprit de corps. After tearing people down, he would find ways to lift them up and make them feel that being part of the Macintosh project was an amazing mission. Every six months he would take most of his team on a two-day retreat at a nearby resort.
Jobs had latched onto what he believed was a key management lesson from his Macintosh experience: You have to be ruthless if you want to build a team of A players. “It’s too easy, as a team grows, to put up with a few B players, and they then attract a few more B players, and soon you will even have some C players,” he recalled. “The Macintosh experience taught me that A players like to work only with other A players, which means you can’t indulge B players.”
“What I’m best at doing is finding a group of talented people and making things with them,” he told the magazine.
Business Week asked him why he treated employees so harshly, Jobs said it made the company better.
…and his great talent, Jobs said, was to “get A performances out of B players.” At Apple, Jobs told him, he would get to work with A players.
The literature about leadership is pretty unanimous about this key role a leader plays. In Liz Wiseman’s book, Multipliers, she writes that the leader has to “multiply” the good effects of the workers, and never diminish them. A good leader “multiplies’ the results of the workers he/she leads. In Kouzes and Pozner’s Encouraging the Heart, they argue that for people to be their best, they must be encouraged, in their hearts, by the one who leads them. And when they are so encouraged, they become more productive, actually better at their jobs.
Whatever Twyla Tharp and Steve Jobs had, or did, it worked. They both developed quite a track record of bringing out the very best in the people who worked for them. (Of course, Twyla Tharp is still at it…).
If you are a leader, this is the test, isn’t it? Are you making your people better? Are you pushing them to do more than they even knew they could do? Are you making the average much better, and the best even better still?
If not, you’ve got some leadership skills to develop.
Here is a brief excerpt from an article featured online by Business Insider. To read the complete article, check out others, and sign up for a free subscription, please click here.
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Benjamin Franklin was a man of action. Over his lifetime, his curiosity and passion fueled a diverse range of interests. He was a writer (often using a pseudonym), publisher, diplomat, inventor and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
His inventions included the lightning rod, bifocals and the Franklin stove. Franklin was responsible for establishing the first public library, organizing fire fighters in Philadelphia, was one of the early supporters of mutual insurance and crossed the Atlantic eight times. Self-development was a constant endeavor throughout his incredible life.
Benjamin Franklin was clearly a man who knew how to get things done.
Here are [four of] 14 action-inducing lessons from him:
1. Less Talk, More Action: “Well done is better than well said.”
Talk is cheap. Talking about a project won’t get it completed. We all know people who constantly talk about the things they are going to do but rarely ever take that first step. Eventually people begin to question their credibility. Taking action and seeing the task through to completion is the only way to get the job done.
2. Don’t Procrastinate: “Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”
This is probably one of the first quotes I remember hearing as a teenager. With an impressive list of achievements to his credit, Benjamin Franklin was not a man hung up on procrastination. He was a man with clear measurable goals who worked hard to turn his vision into reality. What are you putting off till tomorrow that could make a difference in your life today?
3. Be Prepared: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
You need a plan to accomplish your goals. Charging in without giving any thought to the end result and how to achieve it, is a sure way to fall flat on your face. Think like a boy scout. Have a realistic plan of attack and a systematic approach for getting where you need to be.
4. Don’t Fight Change: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”
Whilst many of us don’t like change, others thrive on it. Either way change is inevitable. The stronger we fight against it, the more time and energy it consumes. Give up the fight. Focus on proactively making positive changes, instead of having change merely thrust upon you. Wherever possible, try to view change as a positive instead of a negative.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
I also suggest that you check out these books, one by Franklin and the others about him:
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Walter Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin: An Amnerican Life
H.W. Brands’ The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
Edmund S. Morgan’s Benjamin Franklin
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Walter Isaacson for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
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His saga is the entrepreneurial creation myth writ large: Steve Jobs cofounded Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976, was ousted in 1985, returned to rescue it from near bankruptcy in 1997, and by the time he died, in October 2011, had built it into the world’s most valuable company. Along the way he helped to transform seven industries: personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing. He thus belongs in the pantheon of America’s great innovators, along with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney. None of these men was a saint, but long after their personalities are forgotten, history will remember how they applied imagination to technology and business.
In the months since my biography of Jobs came out, countless commentators have tried to draw management lessons from it. Some of those readers have been insightful, but I think that many of them (especially those with no experience in entrepreneurship) fixate too much on the rough edges of his personality. The essence of Jobs, I think, is that his personality was integral to his way of doing business. He acted as if the normal rules didn’t apply to him, and the passion, intensity, and extreme emotionalism he brought to everyday life were things he also poured into the products he made. His petulance and impatience were part and parcel of his perfectionism.
One of the last times I saw him, after I had finished writing most of the book, I asked him again about his tendency to be rough on people. “Look at the results,” he replied. “These are all smart people I work with, and any of them could get a top job at another place if they were truly feeling brutalized. But they don’t.” Then he paused for a few moments and said, almost wistfully, “And we got some amazing things done.” Indeed, he and Apple had had a string of hits over the past dozen years that was greater than that of any other innovative company in modern times: iMac, iPod, iPod nano, iTunes Store, Apple Stores, MacBook, iPhone, iPad, App Store, OS X Lion—not to mention every Pixar film. And as he battled his final illness, Jobs was surrounded by an intensely loyal cadre of colleagues who had been inspired by him for years and a very loving wife, sister, and four children.
So I think the real lessons from Steve Jobs have to be drawn from looking at what he actually accomplished. I once asked him what he thought was his most important creation, thinking he would answer the iPad or the Macintosh. Instead he said it was Apple the company. Making an enduring company, he said, was both far harder and more important than making a great product. How did he do it? Business schools will be studying that question a century from now. Here are what I consider the keys to his success.
When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, it was producing a random array of computers and peripherals, including a dozen different versions of the Macintosh. After a few weeks of product review sessions, he’d finally had enough. “Stop!” he shouted. “This is crazy.” He grabbed a Magic Marker, padded in his bare feet to a whiteboard, and drew a two-by-two grid. “Here’s what we need,” he declared. Atop the two columns, he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro.” He labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he told his team members, was to focus on four great products, one for each quadrant. All other products should be canceled. There was a stunned silence. But by getting Apple to focus on making just four computers, he saved the company. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he told me. “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”
After he righted the company, Jobs began taking his “top 100” people on a retreat each year. On the last day, he would stand in front of a whiteboard (he loved whiteboards, because they gave him complete control of a situation and they engendered focus) and ask, “What are the 10 things we should be doing next?” People would fight to get their suggestions on the list. Jobs would write them down—and then cross off the ones he decreed dumb. After much jockeying, the group would come up with a list of 10. Then Jobs would slash the bottom seven and announce, “We can only do three.”
Focus was ingrained in Jobs’s personality and had been honed by his Zen training. He relentlessly filtered out what he considered distractions. Colleagues and family members would at times be exasperated as they tried to get him to deal with issues—a legal problem, a medical diagnosis—they considered important. But he would give a cold stare and refuse to shift his laserlike focus until he was ready.
Near the end of his life, Jobs was visited at home by Larry Page, who was about to resume control of Google, the company he had cofounded. Even though their companies were feuding, Jobs was willing to give some advice. “The main thing I stressed was focus,” he recalled. Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up, he told Page. “It’s now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest, because they’re dragging you down. They’re turning you into Microsoft. They’re causing you to turn out products that are adequate but not great.” Page followed the advice. In January 2012 he told employees to focus on just a few priorities, such as Android and Google+, and to make them “beautiful,” the way Jobs would have done.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, is the author of Steve Jobs and of biographies of Henry Kissinger, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein.
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:
Why and how a “productive narcissist” created a “giant jumble of contradictions and paradoxes”
If for whatever reasons you have not as yet — and will not — read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, this would be an excellent source for information about the internal operations of a company he founded and headed for much of its history thus far, one that now continues without him. Credit Adam Lashinsky with providing a rigorous, comprehensive, balanced, and insightful examination of an organization and a culture unlike any other.
Here is Dallas, there is a farmers market near downtown at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples. In that spirit, I now offer a representative selection of brief passages that caught my eye.
According to Michael Maccoby, Steve Jobs was a “productive narcissist,” as were all the other greats of business history…“visionary risk takers with a burning desire to ‘change the world.’”
Lashinsky adds, “Corporate narcissists are charismatic leaders willing to do whatever it takes to win and who couldn’t give a fig about being liked. Steve Jobs was the textbook example of a productive narcissist.” (Both excerpts from Page 18)
Lashinsky on working at Apple when Jobs was its CEO: “To succeed in a company where there is obsessive focus on detail and paranoid guarding of secrets, and where employees are asked to work in a state of permanent start-up, you must be willing to mesh your talents with those of the corporation. You have to forgo your desire to be acknowledged by the outside world and instead derive satisfaction from being a cell in an organism that is changing the world.” (Pages 91-92)
“In contrast to the way Apple runs roughshod over its partners and competitors is the subtle way it charms, then entraps its customers – even though they, too, must abide by strict rules in exchange for interacting with Apple. Retail discounts for Apple products don’t exist.” (Page 149)
“The biggest pitfall in trying to be like Apple, however, is that Apple’s culture is thirty-five years in the making and bears the stamp of one extraordinary entrepreneur who turned into a shrewd chief executive of a sixty-thousand-person corporation. It won’t be a snap for any company to create its own version of the Apple culture. As well, Apple will find out how strong its culture really is – and how much of its success was attributable to Steve Jobs.” (Page 188)
“Companies, like people, aren’t perfect. Apple in the last fourteen years of Jobs’s life was far better than most, but it wasn’t perfect. Jobs was just particularly good at getting us to focus on the good and ignore the bad.” (Page 207)
With uncommon skill, Adam Lashinsky enables his reader to explore dimensions and to understand factors that may be unfamiliar to at least some people who are – or have been – among Apple’s workforce at its headquarters in Cupertino. For me, the appeal of this book has little (if anything) to do with “insider” revelations. Rather, again, one’s man’s opinion, the great value of the material is derived from lessons to be learned from Apple and Steve Jobs in terms of what should be done – and what should not be done – when attempting to build and then sustain an “insanely great” organization. On numerous occasions, Jobs cited that ultimate goal as a process, as a journey, rather than as a destination. To his credit, Apple has probably come about as close as any organization has to reaching it.
Last Friday, I presented my synopsis of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. At our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis event, we aim to finish our synopses in 15 minutes. I missed it this time – going almost 20 minutes. It was not easy to present this terrific book in such a short time.
I loved the book!
The book is a thorough, flowing narrative of the life and business career of Steve Jobs. It reveals so much about the culture he grew up in, with a great look at the struggles –the very personal struggles – of a man who never knew his biological father, and only later came to know other members of his “birth family.” (He loved his adoptive parents!).
Thus, one of Isaacson’s key observations is this: Steve Jobs always felt
“Abandoned. Chosen. Special.”
I want to encourage you to read the book. And, whether you read it or not, I encourage you to order my synopsis of the book. (It will be available soon, with handout + audio, on our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com). I prepared a comprehensive 10+ page handout that has many of my favorite quotes from the book. But, trust me, you need to read the book – slowly! — to get the full story.
I learned plenty about the genius of Steve Jobs. He cared deeply about ease of use, simplicity of design, producing good, usable products for the ”regular person” (the “non-techie”). After I finished reading the book, I tried to come up with the “lessons” – the “business lessons” — to take away from the book. Here’s my list of seven (it could have been much longer):
1) Care about the product, not about the money. The money must – must! — be the by-product, not the focus.
2) Everything matters. Everything. Including what no one can see. Insanely great cuts no corners!
3) Do few things. Do them really well.
4) Absolute control. Because such control created consistent quality. (No “crap”!)
5) Don’t ship junk!
6) The customer does not know what he/she wants “until we’ve shown them”…
7) Build a team of A Players – Keep them A Players. Non-A Players create more non-A players. (They drag people down…) A Players are genuinely, truly critical.
Now, putting these lessons into practice will take some work. If you’re like me, you have some serious work to do…