Ok, let me first state – I don’t think I’ve worn a “Hoodie” for decades, and I never wore one much. I’m certain I don’t currently own one, and have no plans to buy one.
So, when Slate published This Is the Greatest Hoodie Ever Made: How American Giant created the best sweatshirt known to man by Farhad Manjoo, I thought I would just skip it. I’m a big fan of Mr. Manjoo, but hoodies really are outside of my interest. But, in the midst of a moment when I needed to just unwind, I read it. (Yes, I read articles when I want to unwind). (By the way, American Giant designs and makes it clothing in the United States).
Here’s what I learned. This article should be must reading for any one tackling any project in business. It is filled with insight about the design and execution process of a unique company. Here’s a key excerpt:
Philipe Manoux, American Giant’s creative director, had come to the apparel world from a career in industrial design; in addition to Apple, where he worked on the coverglass and touch module for the first iPhone, Manoux spent many years in the medical device industry. When he started at American Giant, he approached sweatshirts as he would a tech product: He obsessively experimented with perfecting every part, then created dozens of prototypes until he’d arrived at an ideal version.
The result is a sweatshirt with several design elements you won’t find on the competition.
If you read the full article, you will learn that this is a company that is dead serious about making clothing that will last. It is…different. And better. And simple.
I thought back to the presentation I gave on the Walter Isaacson book, Steve Jobs. Here are my takeaways, the most important lessons from the book (and the life, & career) of Steve Jobs, which came at the end of that presentation:
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 customers do not know what they want “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.
American Giant seems to be doing all seven of these. I suspect most of us could be more successful if we tried to do likewise.
You can purchase my synopsis of Steve Jobs, with audio + my comprehensive handout, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
And just in case you’ve never seen this, watch this 2 minute video of Steve Jobs: “We Don’t Ship Junk.” It is brilliant.