Business Principles Worth Sharing from Apple's Leader
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Recently, the world lost one of the most visionary and brilliant business leaders of our time. Whether you loved him or whether you didn't, you can't deny that your life, in some way, was impacted by him. Steve Jobs will be remembered by some as a consumer tech visionary developing groundbreaking products ("It's not the consumers' job to know what they want," said Jobs).
Others will remember him as a charismatic genius with a self-assured management style and unconventional approach to business. Often criticized for his intense and singular focus, attention to detail and extremely high expectations of the people who worked for him, Jobs carried the burden of being a brilliant visionary. He envisioned things years before they became a reality, and other raced behind him trying to bring to life what was so clear in his head, it was almost as if he'd already used it. He could be a hard task master, but he was fiercely committed to the people he worked for, to the ideas he knew would change the world, and to the consumers for whom he was creating.
This visionary icon lived by principles that precipitated Apple's meteoric rise to what is arguably, the most valuable company on the planet. These principles (as detailed in The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, McGraw-Hill, 2010) are universal - they apply to everyone - and given the success they brought to Jobs, are worth considering as you build your business.
1. Do what you love. Jobs once said, "People with passion can change the world for the better." Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, "I'd get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about." That's how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.
2. Put a dent in the universe. Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, "Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?" Don't lose sight of the big vision.
3. Kick start your brain. Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn't have any practical use in his life -- until he built the Macintosh. Jobs traveled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don't live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.
4. Say no to 1,000 things. Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the "A-Team" on each product. What are you saying "no" to?
5. Create insanely different experiences. Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept of Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?
6. Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can't communicate your ideas, it doesn't matter. Jobs was the world's greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.
7. Sell dreams, not products. Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It's so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don't care about your product. They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you'll win their undying loyalty.
Jobs died at the age of 56, but he left a legacy that is unparalleled in this generation. In June of 2005, he gave a commencement speech at Stanford University. This quote from that speech sums up the man and his vision.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
What's your dream? What do you envision for your business and your life? What do you truly want to become? Food for thought from someone who was true to those convictions and changed the world.