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(posted: January 8th, 2012)
"What can we do to enhance this in our organizations?"
The quote on the first page of this biography grabbed me.
"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
Apple's Think Different commercial, 1997
Steve Jobs did it!
I had heard a lot about this long book, and prior to reading it I had mixed opinions about Steve Jobs; ranging from deep admiration to "What a jerk!"
It is a long read, but one I could not put down. Walter Isaacson engaged me from page one through page 571. This is a book about the roller coaster life and intense personality of a very creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized SIX industries. It is amazing to me.
This book is both instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values. I now better understand Steve Jobs and think differently about him.
"Even though Jobs's style could be demoralizing, it could also be oddly inspiring. It infused Apple employees with an abiding passion to create groundbreaking products and a belief that they could accomplish what seemed impossible. They had t-shirts made that read "90 hours a week and loving it."
"By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things."
"It's too easy, as a team grows, to put up with a few B players, and then attract a few more B players, and soon you will even have some C players. The Macintosh experience taught me that A players like to work with other A players, which means you can't indulge in B players."
"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."
"What I learned about Steve was that people mistook some of his comments as ranting or negativism, but it was really just the way he showed passion. So that's how I processed it, and I never took issues personally."
This aligns with what I preach in my DiSC assessment work.
"If the vision is compelling; the journey is the reward."
Henry Ford once said:
"If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse!"
"Skate where the puck's going, not where it's been."
The main theme and takeaway for me from this book is the importance of focus.
What are the top five things you want to focus on?
Get rid of the rest because they will drag you down. His management mantra was focus. This ability to focus saved Apple.
Jobs became the greatest business executive of our era and I believe the one most certain to be remembered a century from now.
Steve Jobs changed many, many lives. I do not own one Apple product and most likely never will. I guess you would not call me an "Apple fan" and I certainly was not a Steve Jobs fan or big admirer, but this book changed that for me.
What surprised me the most was when I went to our local mall a few days following his death and saw the store front filled with flowers and post-it notes written to Steve, my eyes welled up with tears. He has many raving fans and I now include myself in that list.