Recently, I read Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson. It was an inspiring read, and I wanted to share it within Alan and with our readers.
I’ll focus on product and design, Steve Jobs’ relationship to competition and a few important elements when building a company. I copy/pasted a few quotes, paraphrased others. If you are interested, I encourage you to buy and read the book, it is amazing!
When Mike Markulla was CEO of Apple, he wrote his principles in a one-page paper title “The Apple Marketing Philosophy” that stressed three points.
Steve Jobs’ design philosophy is well known: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. What does that mean?
Jobs also decided to eliminate the cursor arrow keys on the Macintosh keyboard. The only way to move the cursor was to use the mouse. It was a way of forcing old-fashioned users to adapt to point-and-click navigation, even if they didn’t want to. Unlike other product developers, Jobs did not believe the customer was always right; if they wanted to resist using a mouse, they were wrong.
At the end of one of his presentations someone asked Jobs whether he thought they should do some market research to see what customers wanted. “No,” he replied, “because customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them”.
The idea is to read things that are not yet on the page.
Then, when launching a product, “impute” your greatness by making a memorable impression with a communication blast. This is the principle behind Keynotes. At Alan, we tried it for the first time.
The lesson here is to steal great ideas, and make them even better.
As an example, seeing the three-buttoned Xerox mouse, complicated and expensive ($300), Steve Jobs decided to visit IDEO, a local industrial design firm, and told Dean Hovey, one of the Founders, he wanted a single-button $15 model he could “use on Formica and on (his) blue jeans”.
Steve Jobs most famous quote: “Picasso had a saying -- “Good artists copy; great artists steal” -- and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
After the release of their personal computer in 1981, IBM were very confident they would dominate the market. Apple counter-attacked, took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal with the headline “Welcome IBM. Seriously.” It clearly positioned the upcoming computer battle as a two-way contest between the spunky and rebellious Apple and the establishment Goliath IBM.
Steve Jobs often said that “A players like to work only with other A players, which means you can’t indulge B players”.
When Jobs came back to Apple, he said: “I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you organize a company”.
One of the first things Jobs did during the product review process was ban Powerpoints. “I hate the way people use slide presentation instead of thinking”.
“Stop” he shouted at one big product strategy session (...). He grabbed a magic marker, padded to a whiteboard, and drew a horizontal and vertical line to make a four-squared chart. “Here’s what we need”, he continued. Atop the new columns he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro” ; he labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable”. Their job, he said, was to make four great products, one for each quadrant.
This ability to focus saved Apple. In his first year back, Jobs laid off more than three thousand people, which salvaged the company’s balance sheet. Jobs insisted that Apple focus on just two or three priorities at a time.
Jobs always indicated that he wanted to build a company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits were the motivation.