Who is Steve Jobs?
creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
Design + Cost
Jobs said that his appreciation for Eichler homes instilled in him a passion for making nicely designed products for the mass market. “I love it when you can bring really great design and simple capability to something that doesn’t cost much,” he said as he pointed out the clean elegance of the houses.
First job at Atari after much persistence!
February 1974, after eighteen months of hanging around Reed, Jobs decided to move back to his parents’ home in Los Altos and look for a job. It was not a difficult search. At peak times during the 1970s, the classified section of the San Jose Mercury carried up to sixty pages of technology help-wanted ads. One of those caught Jobs’s eye. “Have fun, make money,” it said. That day Jobs walked into the lobby of the video game manufacturer Atari and told the personnel director, who was startled by his unkempt hair and attire, that he wouldn’t leave until they gave him a job.
They wandered, mainly by bus, rather aimlessly. By this point Jobs was no longer trying to find a guru who could impart wisdom, but instead was seeking enlightenment through ascetic experience, deprivation, and simplicity. He was not able to achieve inner calm.
Intuition > Intellect
Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.
Calming and mindfulness
If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.
My fav Zen quote “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”
I learned the truth of the Zen saying that if you are willing to travel around the world to meet a teacher, one will appear next door.
Fake it till you make it?
“He was interested not just in engineering, but also the business aspects. I taught him that if you act like you can do something, then it will work. I told him, ‘Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.’”
Fusion of many different fields
This fusion of flower power and processor power, enlightenment and technology, was embodied by Steve Jobs as he meditated in the mornings, audited physics classes at Stanford, worked nights at Atari, and dreamed of starting his own business.
Seeing things differently
“The people who invented the twenty-first century were pot-smoking, sandal-wearing hippies from the West Coast like Steve, because they saw differently,” he said. “The hierarchical systems of the East Coast, England, Germany, and Japan do not encourage this different thinking. The sixties produced an anarchic mind-set that is great for imagining a world not yet in existence.”
Scorned computers, but not Jobs
“Most of our generation scorned computers as the embodiment of centralized control,” Brand later noted. “But a tiny contingent later called hackers embraced computers and set about transforming them into tools of liberation. That turned out to be the true royal road to the future.”
Apple. It was a smart choice. The word instantly signaled friendliness and simplicity. It managed to be both slightly off-beat and as normal as a slice of pie.
Hobbyist vs Consumers
Personal computers should come in a complete package. The next Apple, he decided, needed to have a great case and a built-in keyboard, and be integrated end to end, from the power supply to the software. “My vision was to create the first fully packaged computer,” he recalled. “We were no longer aiming for the handful of hobbyists who liked to assemble their own computers, who knew how to buy transformers and keyboards. For every one of them there were a thousand people who would want the machine to be ready to run.”
Start of an industry
Markkula made a wild prediction: “We’re going to be a Fortune 500 company in two years,” he said. “This is the start of an industry. It happens once in a decade.”
Actual vs prediction
It would take Apple seven years to break into the Fortune 500, but the spirit of Markkula’s prediction turned out to be true.
Why start a company
“His values were much aligned with mine. He emphasized that you should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last.”
Empathy + Focus + Impute
The first was empathy, an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer: “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.” The second was focus: “In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.” The third and equally important principle, awkwardly named, was impute. It emphasized that people form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals that it conveys.
Impute the desired qualities
“We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.”
The creation of the logo
“Don’t make it cute,” Jobs ordered. Janoff came up with a simple apple shape in two versions, one whole and the other with a bite taken out of it. The first looked too much like a cherry, so Jobs chose the one with a bite.
da Vinci quote
Atop the brochure McKenna put a maxim, often attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, that would become the defining precept of Jobs’s design philosophy: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Passion + Pragmatism
“His obsession is a passion for the product, a passion for product perfection.” Mike Scott, on the other hand, never let a passion for the perfect take precedence over pragmatism.
Inventing with both software and hardware
Alan Kay, who had two great maxims that Jobs embraced: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it” and “People who are serious about software should make their own hardware.”
Seeing the future with GUI
the graphical interface that was made possible by a bitmapped screen. “It was like a veil being lifted from my eyes,” Jobs recalled. “I could see what the future of computing was destined to be.”
The Apple raid on Xerox PARC is sometimes described as one of the biggest heists in the chronicles of industry. Jobs occasionally endorsed this view, with pride. As he once said, “Picasso had a saying ‘good artists copy, great artists steal’ and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
Ideas + Execution
There falls a shadow, as T. S. Eliot noted, between the conception and the creation. In the annals of innovation, new ideas are only part of the equation. Execution is just as important.
“Steve wasn’t much of an engineer himself, but he was very good at assessing people’s answers. He could tell whether the engineers were defensive or unsure of themselves.”
Idealism and the 60s
“When I went to school, it was right after the sixties and before this general wave of practical purposefulness had set in,” he said. “Now students aren’t even thinking in idealistic terms, or at least nowhere near as much.” His generation, he said, was different. “The idealistic wind of the sixties is still at our backs, though, and most of the people I know who are my age have that ingrained in them forever.”
Build awesome products
At one point in the fall of 1979 Jobs told him instead to focus on building what he repeatedly called an “insanely great” product. “Don’t worry about price, just specify the computer’s abilities,”
Raskin had little patience for Jobs’s belief that you could distort reality if you had enough passion for your product.
share Jobs’s passion for making a great product, not just a profitable one. “Jobs thought of himself as an artist, and he encouraged the design team to think of ourselves that way too,” said Hertzfeld. “The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money. It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater.”
Hire great people
“I’ve learned over the years that when you have really good people you don’t have to baby them,” Jobs later explained. “By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. The original Mac team taught me that A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B work.
“So that’s our approach. Very simple, and we’re really shooting for Museum of Modern Art quality. The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.” Apple’s design mantra would remain the one featured on its first brochure: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
“The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious,”
Design based on familiarity
People know how to switch priority. Part of the reason we model our computers on metaphors like the desktop is that we can leverage this experience people already have.”
Minimalsim !== Cold
“His design sensibility is sleek but not slick, and it’s playful. He embraced minimalism, which came from his Zen devotion to simplicity, but he avoided allowing that to make his products cold. They stayed fun. He’s passionate and super-serious about design, but at the same time there’s a sense of play.”
Beauty inside unseen as well
Jobs reacted typically. “I want it to be as beautiful as possible, even if it’s inside the box. A great carpenter isn’t going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet, even though nobody’s going to see it.”
Signed by artists
So he got out a sheet of drafting paper and a Sharpie pen and had all of them sign their names. The signatures were engraved inside each Macintosh. No one would ever see them, but the members of the team knew that their signatures were inside, just as they knew that the circuit board was laid out as elegantly as possible.
Stopping the Dark Ages
“If, for some reason, we make some giant mistakes and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter sort of a computer Dark Ages for about twenty years,” he told an interviewer. “Once IBM gains control of a market sector, they almost always stop innovation.”
The best products, he believed, were “whole widgets” that were designed end-to-end, with the software closely tailored to the hardware and vice versa.
Customer is not always right when innovating. “If I had asked a customer, he would have wanted a faster horse” ~ Henry Ford
Unlike other product developers, Jobs did not believe the customer was always right; if they wanted to resist using a mouse, they were wrong.
Trade-offs vs compromise
The first was “Don’t compromise.” It was an injunction that would, over time, be both helpful and harmful. Most technology teams made trade-offs. The Mac, on the other hand, would end up being as “insanely great” as Jobs and his acolytes could possibly make it but
Short life == Live well!
Jobs confided in Sculley that he believed he would die young, and therefore he needed to accomplish things quickly so that he would make his mark on Silicon Valley history. “We all have a short period of time on this earth,” he told the Sculleys as they sat around the table that morning. “We probably only have the opportunity to do a few things really great and do them well. None of us has any idea how long we’re going to be here, nor do I, but my feeling is I’ve got to accomplish a lot of these things while I’m young.”
Market research when the market does not exist
Popular Science asked Jobs what type of market research he had done. Jobs responded by scoffing, “Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?”
Some things are “hard to protect”
Even though Apple made a deal for the right to use what it saw at Xerox PARC, it was inevitable that other companies would develop similar graphical interfaces. As Apple found out, the “look and feel” of a computer interface design is a hard thing to protect.
This exposed an aesthetic flaw in how the universe worked: The best and most innovative products don’t always win.
Always hire A players
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,”
Thoughts and patterns, but be careful
Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them.
Change will lead to insight more than insight will lead to change
The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, “Bye. I have to go. I’m going crazy and I’m getting out of here.” And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.
Pixar and Adobe
Pixar couldn’t compete with Adobe, which was making software that was less sophisticated but far less complicated and expensive.
Fun to do the impossible
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” Walt Disney once said. That was the type of attitude that appealed to Jobs.
Organising a company for innovation
properly run company could spawn innovation far more than any single creative individual. “I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you organize a company,” he recalled. “The whole notion of how you build a company is fascinating.
Focus focus focus
One of Jobs’s great strengths was knowing how to focus. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he said. “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”
How to become unfocused
The product review revealed how unfocused Apple had become. The company was churning out multiple versions of each product because of bureaucratic momentum and to satisfy the whims of retailers.
Ive was a fan of the German industrial designer Dieter Rams, who worked for the electronics firm Braun. Rams preached the gospel of “Less but better,” Weniger aber besser, and likewise Jobs and Ive wrestled with each new design to see how much they could simplify it. Ever since Apple’s first brochure proclaimed “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” Jobs had aimed for the simplicity that comes from conquering complexities, not ignoring them.
Fit simplicity with complexity
Jobs had approved the design of the case of the original Macintosh, and the engineers had to make their boards and components fit.
Design + conversation + feel
Much of the design process is a conversation, a back-and-forth as we walk around the tables and play with the models. He doesn’t like to read complex drawings. He wants to see and feel a model. He’s right.
Iteration and continuous feedback
He loves coming in here because it’s calm and gentle. It’s a paradise if you’re a visual person. There are no formal design reviews, so there are no huge decision points. Instead, we can make the decisions fluid. Since we iterate every day and never have dumb-ass presentations, we don’t run into major disagreements.
Inuition and gut
“Engineers are taught to make a decision analytically, but there are times when relying on gut or intuition is most indispensable.”
What’s next planning
Once a year Jobs took his most valuable employees on a retreat, which he called “The Top 100.” They were picked based on a simple guideline: the people you would bring if you could take only a hundred people with you on a lifeboat to your next company. At the end of each retreat, Jobs 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 ten things we should be doing next?”
Complete integration from software, hardware, devices, applications
Microsoft wrote software, Dell and Compaq made hardware, Sony produced a lot of digital devices, Adobe developed a lot of applications. But only Apple did all of these things. “We’re the only company that owns the whole widget the hardware, the software and the operating system,” he explained to Time. “We can take full responsibility for the user experience. We can do things that the other guys can’t do.”
The mark of an innovative company is not only that it comes up with new ideas first, but also that it knows how to leapfrog when it finds itself behind.
In the moment vs slides
Fadell took away a lesson: “Steve prefers to be in the moment, talking things through. He once told me, ‘If you need slides, it shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.’”
Simplicity with switches
The most Zen of all simplicities was Jobs’s decree, which astonished his colleagues, that the iPod would not have an on-off switch. It became true of most Apple devices.
White white white
said Ive. “There is no cultural gravity to them. The thing I’m proudest of about the iPod is that there is something about it that makes it feel significant, not disposable.” The white would be not just white, but pure white. “Not only the device, but the headphones and the wires and even the power block,” he recalled. “Pure white.”
Nondisposable and restrained
There was something very significant and nondisposable about it, yet there was also something very quiet and very restrained. It wasn’t wagging its tail in your face. It was restrained, but it was also crazy, with those flowing headphones. That’s why I like white. White isn’t just a neutral color. It is so pure and quiet. Bold and conspicuous and yet so inconspicuous as well.
Creative + Technology
Tech companies don’t understand creativity. They don’t appreciate intuitive thinking, like the ability of an A&R guy at a music label to listen to a hundred artists and have a feel for which five might be successful. And they think that creative people just sit around on couches all day and are undisciplined, because they’ve not seen how driven and disciplined the creative folks at places like Pixar are. On the other hand, music companies are completely clueless about technology.
Motivations –> Creation
The older I get, the more I see how much motivations matter. The Zune was crappy because the people at Microsoft don’t really love music or art the way we do. We won because we personally love music. We made the iPod for ourselves, and when you’re doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family, you’re not going to cheese out.
“We don’t have ‘divisions’ with their own P&L,” said Tim Cook. “We run one P&L for the company.”
Cannibalization is good
One of Jobs’s business rules was to never be afraid of cannibalizing yourself. “If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will,”
Technology as an expression
“Simply handing over your iPod to a friend, your blind date, or the total stranger sitting next to you on the plane opens you up like a book,” Steven Levy wrote in The Perfect Thing. “All somebody needs to do is scroll through your library on that click wheel, and, musically speaking, you’re naked. It’s not just what you like it’s who you are.”
Art » Ugliness
“The ‘devil’ here is a bunch of creative minds, more creative than a lot of people in rock bands. The lead singer is Steve Jobs. These men have helped design the most beautiful art object in music culture since the electric guitar. That’s the iPod. The job of art is to chase ugliness away.”
Not understanding what made you succeed first
“There’s a classic thing in business, which is the second-product syndrome,” Jobs later said. It comes from not understanding what made your first product so successful. “I lived through that at Apple. My feeling was, if we got through our second film, we’d make it.”
Despite being a denizen of the digital world, or maybe because he knew all too well its isolating potential, Jobs was a strong believer in face-to-face meetings. “There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat,” he said. “That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”
Great products comes hand-in-hand with great companies
“My goal has always been not only to make great products, but to build great companies,” Jobs later said. “Walt Disney did that. And the way we did the merger, we kept Pixar as a great company and helped Disney remain one as well.”
Trade-offs for launch
Jobs later admitted that he had overdesigned and overpriced the Cube, just as he had the NeXT computer. But gradually he was learning his lesson. In building devices like the iPod, he would control costs and make the trade-offs necessary to get them launched on time and on budget.
In ancient Rome, when a victorious general paraded through the streets, legend has it that he was sometimes trailed by a servant whose job it was to repeat to him, “Memento mori”: Remember you will die. A reminder of mortality would help the hero keep things in perspective, instill some humility.
As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead.
Removing a physical keyboard
A couple of members of the team argued for having a keyboard as well, given the popularity of the BlackBerry, but Jobs vetoed the idea. A physical keyboard would take away space from the screen, and it would not be as flexible and adaptable as a touchscreen keyboard.
Software replacing hardware - fluid interface
The result was a device that displays a numerical pad when you want to dial a phone number, a typewriter keyboard when you want to write, and whatever buttons you might need for each particular activity. And then they all disappear when you’re watching a video. By having software replace hardware, the interface became fluid and flexible.
Why a closed system?
“He has an uncanny ability to cook up gadgets that we didn’t know we needed, but then suddenly can’t live without,” he wrote. “A closed system may be the only way to deliver the kind of techno-Zen experience that Apple has become known for.”
Hackers vs most people
“Apple gets you into their playpen and keeps you there, but there are some advantages to that,” he replied. “I like open systems, but I’m a hacker. But most people want things that are easy to use. Steve’s genius is that he knows how to make things simple, and that sometimes requires controlling everything.”
Intuitive - using without instructions
With no instruction, and never having seen a computer before, the boy started using it intuitively. He began swiping the screen, launching apps, playing a pinball game. “Steve Jobs has designed a powerful computer that an illiterate six-year-old can use without instruction,” Noer wrote. “If that isn’t magical, I don’t know what is.”
3rd party App development - not yet!
Jobs at first quashed the discussion, partly because he felt his team did not have the bandwidth to figure out all of the complexities that would be involved in policing third-party app developers. He wanted focus. “So he didn’t want to talk about it,”
From the details to the overarching principals
Bewkes respected Jobs’s ability to be both a strategic thinker and a master of the tiniest details. “Steve can go readily from the overarching principals into the details,” he said.
Integrated or fragmented?
It exemplified the great debate of the digital age: closed versus open, or as Jobs framed it, integrated versus fragmented.
Losing the ability to differentiate Apple’s platforms allowing them to become commoditized like HP and Dell machines would have meant death for the company.
Defend and argue
At the end he added a zinger: “By the way, what have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others’ work and belittle their motivations?” Tate admitted to being impressed. “Rare is the CEO who will spar one-on-one with customers and bloggers like this,” he wrote. “Jobs deserves big credit for breaking the mold of the typical American executive, and not just because his company makes such hugely superior products: Jobs not only built and then rebuilt his company around some very strong opinions about digital life, but he’s willing to defend them in public. Vigorously. Bluntly. At two in the morning on a weekend.” Many in the blogosphere agreed, and they sent Jobs emails praising his feistiness. Jobs was proud as well; he forwarded his exchange with Tate and some of the kudos to me.
It was not high-tech; it was purely mechanical. But it was enchanting. It also was another example of Jobs’s desire for end-to-end integration: The cover and the iPad had been designed together so that the magnets and hinge all connected seamlessly.
Mortality with cancer
“Living with a disease like this, and all the pain, constantly reminds you of your own mortality, and that can do strange things to your brain if you’re not careful,” he said. “You don’t make plans more than a year out, and that’s bad. You need to force yourself to plan as if you will live for many years.”
Keep going with uncertainty of death
“I didn’t think I would be alive when it got done,” he recalled. “But that made me so sad, and I decided that working on the design was fun to do, and maybe I have a shot at being alive when it’s done. If I stop work on the boat and then I make it alive for another two years, I would be really pissed. So I’ve kept going.”
“I know that it’s possible I will die and leave Laurene with a half-built boat,” he said. “But I have to keep going on it. If I don’t, it’s an admission that I’m about to die.”
We didn’t know much about each other twenty years ago. We were guided by our intuition; you swept me off my feet. It was snowing when we got married at the Ahwahnee. Years passed, kids came, good times, hard times, but never bad times. Our love and respect has endured and grown. We’ve been through so much together and here we are right back where we started 20 years ago older, wiser with wrinkles on our faces and hearts. We now know many of life’s joys, sufferings, secrets and wonders and we’re still here together. My feet have never returned to the ground. By the end of the recitation he was crying uncontrollably. When he composed himself, he noted that he had also made a set of the pictures for each of his kids. “I thought they might like to see that I was young once.”
As Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky reported in a dissection of the Apple corporate culture, “Accountability is strictly enforced.”
It’s important that we make this transformation, because of what Clayton Christensen calls “the innovator’s dilemma,” where people who invent something are usually the last ones to see past it, and we certainly don’t want to be left behind.
Environment of office
The walls were floor-to-ceiling glass, and the interior had rows of office pods that allowed the sunlight to stream down the aisles. “It permits serendipitous and fluid meeting spaces,” he said, “and everybody gets to participate in the sunlight.”
Journey of learning
almost floored her: “Tell me, what was I like when I was young?” Bowers tried to give him an honest answer. “You were very impetuous and very difficult,” she replied. “But your vision was compelling. You told us, ‘The journey is the reward.’ That turned out to be true.” “Yes,” Jobs answered. “I did learn some things along the way.” Then, a few minutes later, he repeated it, as if to reassure Bowers and himself. “I did learn some things. I really did.”
Caring in other ways
“He doesn’t have social graces, such as putting himself in other people’s shoes, but he cares deeply about empowering humankind, the advancement of humankind, and putting the right tools in their hands.”
Building a team
We talked a lot about focus. And choosing people. How to know who to trust, and how to build a team of lieutenants he can count on.
The main thing I stressed was focus. Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. 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.
The people and the idea
They were both right. Each model had worked in the realm of personal computers, where Macintosh coexisted with a variety of Windows machines, and that was likely to be true in the realm of mobile devices as well. But after recounting their discussion, Gates added a caveat: “The integrated approach works well when Steve is at the helm. But it doesn’t mean it will win many rounds in the future.” Jobs similarly felt compelled to add a caveat about Gates after describing their meeting: “Of course, his fragmented model worked, but it didn’t make really great products. It produced crappy products. That was the problem. The big problem. At least over time.”
Open vs closed
the most fundamental divide in the digital world: open versus closed. The hacker ethos handed down from the Homebrew Computer Club favored the open approach, in which there was little centralized control and people were free to modify hardware and software, share code, write to open standards, shun proprietary systems, and have content and apps that were compatible with a variety of devices and operating systems.
Comoditization vs closed integrated systems
In the longer run, however, there proved to be some advantages to Jobs’s model. Even with a small market share, Apple was able to maintain a huge profit margin while other computer makers were commoditized.
Polite and velvety leaders, who take care to avoid bruising others, are generally not as effective at forcing change. Dozens of the colleagues whom Jobs most abused ended their litany of horror stories by saying that he got them to do things they never dreamed possible.
Consolidation of many many ideas
He didn’t invent many things outright, but he was a master at putting together ideas, art, and technology in ways that invented the future.
Was he smart? No, not exceptionally. Instead, he was a genius. His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical.
as Dylan says, if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.
Survival after death
“I like to think that something survives after you die,” he said. “It’s strange to think that you accumulate all this experience, and maybe a little wisdom, and it just goes away. So I really want to believe that something survives, that maybe your consciousness endures.”