How Steve kept me from blogging

It’s almost two weeks since the last time I updated the blog. Well, it is certainly very busy with LogistIT and Oxygen. We are into the final month, after all. But this is not really the main reason why I haven’t blogged. The real reason is that for the past week every free moment I’ve had, have been spent reading Steve Jobs biography.

Now, 600 pages later and finally with some time to blog, what an inspiring reading it was! Personally, I’ve had an iPod since 2006, iPhone 2008 and MacBook Air since 2010 and I’ve been closely following the story of Apple for years. What made the reading even more interested was that a lot of things mentioned in the book (ad campaigns, tv shows, product presentations etc) can be seen on youtube just to get even better idea of what’s going on. And there’s a lot of material to look and which makes you think. For example take a look at Steve Ballmer’s reaction to the first iPhone and you can’t help but wonder why is this guy still running Microsoft.

I won’t start retelling the book – you’ve got to read it youself. But here are some notes I made to my evernote while reading:

  • Steve’s diet obsessions reflected a life philosophy, one in which ascetism and minimalism could heighten subsequent sensations. He believed that great harvests came from arid sources, pleasure from restraint.
  • He felt a sense of urgency about all he wanted to get done.
  • His belief which came from his Buddhist studies was that it is important to avoid attachment to material objects. Our consumer desires are unhealthy and to attain enlightenment you need to develop a life of non attachment and nonmaterialism.
  • One is a reflection of what he does.
  • One of his motivating passions was to build a lasting company. At age twelve, when he got a summer job at Hewlett Packard, he learned that a 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 the company,” he recalled. “The whole notion of how you build a company is fascinating. When I got the chance to come back to Apple, I realized that I would be useless without the company, and that’s why I decided to stay and rebuild it.”
  • One of Job’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.”
  • People who know what they are talking about don’t need PowerPoint.
  • After a few weeks Jobs finally had enough. “Stop!” he shouted at one big product strategy session. ” This is crazy.” 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 two 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.
  • Ive soon came up with four new juicy-looking colors, in addition to bondi blue, for the iMacs. Offering the same computer in five colors would of course create huge challenges for the manufacturing, inventory and distribution. At most companies, including even the old Apple, there would have been studies and meetings to look at the costs and benefits. But when Jobs looked at the new colors, he got totally psyched and summoned other executives over to design studio. “We’re going to do all sorts of colors!! He told them excitedly. When they left, I’ve looked at his team in amazement. “In most places that decision would have taken months,” Ive recalled. “Steve did it in half hour”.
  • His management mantra was “Focus”. He eliminated excess product lines and cut extraneous features in the new operating system software that apple was developing. He let go of his control-freak desire to manufacture products in his own factories and instead outsourced the making of everything from the circuit boards to the finished computers. And he enforced on Apple’s suppliers a rigorous discipline.
  • Once the project was launched, Jobs immersed himself in it daily. His main demand was “Simplify!” He would go over each screen of the user interface and apply a rigid test: If he wanted a song or a function, he should be able to get there in three clicks. And the click should be intuitive. If he couldn’t figure out how to navigate to something, or if it took more than three clicks, he would be brutal.
  • Jobs kept insisting when Marsalis’s attention would wander. ” See how the interface works.” Marsalis later recalled, “I don’t care much about computers, and kept telling him so, but he goes on for two hours. He was a man possessed. After a while, I started looking at him and not the computer, because I was fascinated with his passion.”
  • Jobs insisted that Apple focus on just two or three priorities at a time. “There is no one better at turning off the noise that is going on around him,” Cook said. “That allows him to focus on a few things and say no to many things. Few people are really good at that.”
  • Jobs: “My passion has been to build an enduring 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. Some people say, “Give customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.”

2 thoughts on “How Steve kept me from blogging

  1. Damn good post Lauri – I’m waiting to start reading it also. If I think about Steve I am always happy that I have had a chance to live together with him on this planet and be inspired by his great innovations. Almost as I have had a chance to live together with Einstein, Newton or Darwin:) For me he was as good innovator as they where:)

  2. Could not agree with you more, Janar! As soon as I saw the book on the shelf at WHSmith, I bought it right away. I decided not to buy it to my Kindle, because wanted to have that book on my shelf.:) Well, ended up buying this to my Kindle too, accidentally.:)

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