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Steve Jobs

Founder of Apple and led the development and launches of the iPod and iPhone (1955 - 2011)

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Who is Steve Jobs? – Matt Mullenweg

I checked out the new book Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli because there had been some interesting excerpts published to the web, and apparently those closest to Steve didn’t like the Walter Isaacson book , with Jony Ive saying “My regard [for Isaacson’s book] couldn’t be any lower.”

Along with about a million other people I bought and read the authorized biography, and didn’t think it portrayed Jobs in a way that made me think any less of him, but there must have been some things in there that someone who knew him closely felt were so off that as a group they decided to coordinate and speak with a new author to set the record straight, as Eddy Cue said of the new Becoming book, “Well done and first to get it right.” I will never know who Steve Jobs really was, but it is interesting to triangulate and learn from different takes, especially Isaacson’s biography that Jobs himself endorsed but might not have read and this new one promoted by his closest friends, colleagues, and family.

As an independent third party who doesn’t know any of the characters involved personally, I must say that I felt like I got a much worse impression of Steve Jobs from Becoming than from the authorized biography. It was great to hear the direct voices and anecdotes of so many people close to him that haven’t spoken much publicly like his wife Laurene — he was a very private man and his friends respect that. But the parts where Schlender/Tetzeli try to balance things out by acknowledging some of the rougher parts of Steve’s public life, especially the recent ones around options backdating, anti-poaching agreements, book pricing, (all overblown in my opinion) or even when trying to show his negotiating acumen with suppliers, Disney, or music labels, they make Jobs look like an insensitive jerk, which seems to be the opposite of what everyone involved was intending.

The direct quotes in the book could not be kinder, and it’s clear from both books that Jobs was incredibly warm, caring, and thoughtful to those closest to him, but Becoming tries so hard to emphasize that it makes the contrast of some of his public and private actions seem especially callous. The personal anecdotes from the author are the best part: one of the most interesting parts of the book is actually when Jobs calls Schlender to invite him for a walk, as one of the people he reached out to and wanted to speak to before he passed, and Schlender — not knowing the context — actually chastises him for cutting off his journalistic access and other trivia, and then blows off the meeting, to his lifelong regret.

It’s tragic, and it’s very human , and that’s what makes for great stories. No one suggests that Steve Jobs was a saint, nor did he need to be. His legacy is already well-protected both in the incredible results while he was alive, and even more so in what the team he built has accomplished since his passing, both periods which actually amaze and inspire me. Becoming Steve Jobs tries harder and accomplishes less to honor the man. It is worth reading if, like me, you gobble up every book around the technology leaders of the past 40 years and want a different take on a familiar tune, but if you were only to read one book about Jobs, and get the most positive impression of the man and his genius, I’d recommend Isaacson’s Steve Jobs .

I checked out the new book Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli because there had been some interesting excerpts published to the web, and apparently those closest to Steve didn&…

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Somebody once told me, “Manage the top line, and the bottom line will follow.” What’s the top line? It’s things like, why are we doing this in the first place? What’s our strategy? What are customers saying? How responsive are we? Do we have the best products and the best people? Those are the kind of questions you have to focus on.

Somebody once told me, “Manage the top line, and the bottom line will follow.” What’s the top line? It’s things like, why are we doing this in the first place? What’s our strategy? What are custome…

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Consulting - Steve Jobs

This is a video on Steve Jobs talking about Consulting

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11 months ago
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History of the iPod Nano

The history of the iPod Nano! As usual, a brilliant video by Apple Explained!✨

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In my romantic, counterfactual dreams of Steve Jobs, I have him pulling @tim_cook aside and saying: “Do you really want to be a monopolist for the rest of your life, or do you want to change your mind and change the world?”. It’s never too late to choose to be different.

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Would you pay to sit in a meeting with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates?

There’s an interesting theme in my vlog about how I consider forecasting future trends.

If you’ve followed my content, you know how I tend to call things earlier than most in business.

I talked about how Facebook would acquire Instagram before most people saw it. I said it was underpriced when Facebook bought it at $1 billion. Most people thought it was overpriced.

I made a video on how Amazon stock would explode back in 2011. Now, the stock is up 8x from 2011.

I’ve talked about how the brand of colleges would collapse when the next recession hits. And right now I’m going around the world speaking on why Facebook and Instagram ads are so underpriced.

Last August (in 2018), I started getting more and more involved with trading sports cards. Today, Forbes is writing about them as an investment opportunity.

In the far future, one of my hypotheses is that virtual reality will get so advanced that people will be able to “sit” with me in meetings I have in my vlog. It’s a fascinating concept to think about how much you’d pay to sit in on historic meetings. Imagine the meeting when someone decided to sell bottled water or the first meeting between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

People always ask me how I come up with these hot takes on trends and what’s going to happen in business. Truth is, I don’t fully know, but a big part of it comes down to understanding human behavior.

Here are some insights on what drives consumer behavior:

1. Nostalgia

My ultimate strategy for buying the New York Jets is acquiring nostalgic brands, growing them, and “flipping” them.

Nostalgia is a big emotional driver for people. It’s why toys like GI Joe tend to recirculate in culture over and over again every 30-or-so years. It’s because the kids who played with those toys become parents, and the entire cycle starts again.

Nostalgia is a big reason why sports cards are exploding in culture today. Parents in my generation used to trade baseball cards as kids, and now the cycle is starting again. Many kids who cut their teeth flipping sneakers are going to really win big with sports cards.

2. Convenience

People love to save time.

Even fractions of a second matter. For example, people get upset on a plane when the WiFi is a tenth of a second slower or when a website loads slowly. We just value time so much.

The biggest companies in the world today are really good at saving us time. Uber saves us time by letting us order rides from our phones. As voice devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home gain more and more adoption, they’ll save us time by letting us order products and navigate apps without having to press any buttons.

Watch DailyVee 548 for more on my thoughts about future trends in business and investing:

There's an interesting theme in my vlog about how I consider forecasting future trends. If you’ve followed my content, you know how I tend...

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I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1000 things. —Steve Jobs The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything. —Warren Buffett

A launch that changed my entrepreneurial life https://t.co/jc9ygO1rFl

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Neil Gaiman – The Best Commencement Speech You May Ever Hear (20 Minutes) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

This will be a short post as, sometimes, brevity counts. I want to let Neil Gaiman speak in this instance. Neil is one of my favorite authors, and I first became fascinated by his imagination with The Sandman comics in the 90’s. So much so, in fact, that I imported The Sandman from different countries to help me learn languages.

The Sandman from Brazil. Wonderful for studying Portuguese, as I have identical English editions.

My love for his work grew from there. From Anansi Boys to The Graveyard Book ( my favorite audiobook of all time ) to Neverwhere , the list of favorites is long.

The above commencement speech, mandatory listening for anyone who hopes to be creatively successful, is right up there with Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech, which I’ve embedded below. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on either, as well as links to any favorite speeches of your own.

Related and Recommended

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 600 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page .

This will be a short post as, sometimes, brevity counts. I want to let Neil Gaiman speak in this instance. Neil is one of my favorite authors, and I first became fascinated by his imagination with …

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How to be Innovative Like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg? - Blogs | iEnabler

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How to be Innovative Like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg?

How to be Innovative Like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg?

How to be Innovative Like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg?

An Essay

Recently, I was tagged in an interesting Quora question. To summarize, the OP was looking to learn:how entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg identified the sweet spot in their businesses. I found the question interesting. It offered an opportunity to look beyond known facts like Steve’s eye for detail, Zuckerberg’s experiments, or Musk’s first principles, and the obvious conclusion that:

Musk, Jobs, and Zuckerberg are gifted individuals with common attributes. They have visionary ideas, perseverance, the readiness to take risks with disruptive innovations, and business acumen that guarantees success.

For an entrepreneur, you can learn valuable lessons from these attributes of our heroes. The main value, though, lies in understanding that‘X’ is the thought or decision process, structured around the set of factors ‘Y’, that led Musk, or Zuckerberg, or Jobs to identify sweet spot ‘Z’. While that is something we can hypothesize, only our heroes can confirm what ‘X’ is for sure.

Given how crucial this aspect is, when enabling startups to leverage thepotential of structured innovation, here’s our approach to the solution.

Turning the Question On Its Head

My friendKarthik Rajancaptures this perfectly when he says,“Sri, you don’t have to teach the Elon Musks or Zuckerbergs of the world to innovate. They are masters at this game. How would you teach innovation to a leader or entrepreneur responsible for operations?”

Karthik’s point is: Entrepreneurs with an Operations background would like to see some structure to the process of innovation as they continue to build great companies.They would want something beyond “Fail fast, fail often.”

So, it makes sense to discuss the structure that helps startups and growing businesses build great companies like the heroes in this post. This structure can help leaders and entrepreneurs explore their goals to:

    1. Establish their sweet spot or optimal cost-benefit balance,
    2. Achieve it through structured innovative thinking, and
    3. Build processes that help them sustainably innovate and nurture a potential to disrupt

It is important to remember: For a startup to sustainably differentiate from its competition, it needs to repeatedly innovate. It cannot be satisfied with hitting its optimal cost-benefit balance just once. The process of developing or diversifying its offerings and reaching that balance needs to be optimally repeatable. Just as Jobs led Apple to continue disrupting its own market, a business must provision toelevate its thinkingand repeatedly identify opportunities for disruptive innovation. Likewise, as demonstrated by leaders like Nadella, a business must plan toinnovate incrementally, capturing opportunities to generate newer value for its ecosystem.

Linear innovations help in incremental improvements, and most Operations managers are good at it. Such leaders prefer structures that can predict outcomes like costs and returns. Visionary leaders have this uncanny ability to build nonlinear innovations, which are radical or transformational. It is necessary for a business to be able to to structure these nonlinear innovations, while also planning linear ones.

Structured Innovation

Story 1: Structuring a Disruptive Innovation

In this story, we’ll look at a brilliant toy inventor who ideates a virtual buddy for his nephew Noah, a fifth-grader. When Noah gets back from school each day, he feels tired and lonely. His parents work late at their offices, and Noah is bored. The toy inventor plans a buddy who will be able to assist with whatever a child, like Noah, would want.

Virtual buddy

Virtual buddy as a tool

Now, let’s analyze how a person with a great Operations’ background, but not an inventor himself, could address the same opportunity.

Opportunity Statement:In a society with working parents, children have been returning from school to empty homes. By fifth-grade, a child is old enough that they can come home to a babysitter hired to provide basic supervision and minimal intervention. Or, depending on where they live, they return to empty homes. An entrepreneur sees this as an opportunity to provide a virtual buddy to this segment of children. It is not a novel idea – after all, there have been virtual buddy apps, and there have been electronic pets in the market.

The entrepreneur wants to ensure that:

  1. The product will be disruptive in terms of innovation and the returns it brings, and
  2. Competitors don’t catch up anytime soon – that is, the product needs to have an unfair competitive advantage.

Here is how, as innovation enablers, we would advise working through this opportunity.

1) Think inversely: List what is and isn’t a problem for a child, Noah, in their target market.

Inverse Thinking

Inverse Thinking Think Model

2) Analyze the nuances of Noah’s Landscape:

Landscape Framework

Virtual Buddy: Landscape Analysis Framework

Through this exercise, we can figure out that:

  • Noah spends more time in school compared to previous years, and
  • As he grows, he will have to spend even more time on his classwork (assuming he stays within the current education system)

3) Establish the Ideality or Dream Solution for Noah and his Ecosystem:You will observe that in plotting a dream solution, some of its functions will be useful, and some will be harmful, or contradictory to the overarching objectives your solution is trying to achieve. This activity also considers the Cost associated with achieving the desired Benefits.

Dream Solution / Ideality

Virtual Buddy: Dream Solution / Ideality

An astute entrepreneur will appreciate the advantage of associating Costs against the Benefits this early in the game. This perspective kicks in before experimentation has even begun, and allows you to remove or address harmful functions. This makes it easier to achieve your sweet spot, and comes under “Executing Lean”

4) Ideal Dream to Ideation:Now, with the Dream Solution in place, the stage is set. A set of ideation techniques that are divergent (explore new opportunities) and convergent (refine and select opportunities) will help a linear thinker, like our entrepreneur, to arrive at the same creative possibilities as a creative guy, such as our inventor.

In fact, with this structured approach, the entrepreneur stands to cover more ground, and his approach will be more holistic and effective. The solution will not only result in a well-grounded concept, but it will also be easy to commercialize and generateReturns on Innovation Investment.

Story 2: Structuring Innovation for an Enterprise

In this story, we’ll look at the proposal defined by the Head of Strategy & Innovation at a health insurance company. He has been working on ideas for the company’s next phase of growth and value offerings, including but not limited to:

  1. Tracking a customer from Day Zero of the customer’s life: This would involve securing the customer’s entire medical history starting from the day they were born (e.g. stem cell information, data from wearable devices, etc.) and applying this personal information to determine the premium and options that the company will offer the customer.
  2. Attaching a doctor to monitor the customer’s health. The health monitoring data could be received from free check-ups to paid check-ups, to special disease observation. This way, the customer is continuously monitored, a and the insurance company is prepared for the expenses, instead of receiving a big, fat surprise claim that a health care provider makes on behalf of the insured patient.
  3. Adding speed monitoring and alcohol monitoring devices to the car a customer drives in a data-sharing tie-up with vehicle insurance companies.
  4. Tie-ups with providers likeZocdocorPractoto pre-book patient appointments.
  5. Tie-ups with Pharma outlets to deliver prescription drugs.
  6. Tie-ups with support staff in case patients need special services.

This way, the insurance company is not only reducing its outgoing claims, but it is also increasing its market share, customer goodwill, and ecosystem support.

Now, let’s analyze how two leaders in an insurance firm, who run Operations and Marketing respectively, could collaborate to address the same opportunity.

It is worth remembering that: typically, leaders with a strong Operations’ background seek to get the whole innovation piece done quickly and efficiently while ensuring that there is compliance. They do not have room for serendipity. Their prime concern is whether concepts (especially those that look good) will bring in a Return on Investment (ROI).

To address this concern and prevent it from impeding their ability to innovate, we would introduce our two leaders to structured innovation by establishing aBrainstormingsession. The objective of such a session is toelevate their level of thinkingto grow the company and business byidentifying unarticulated needs.The outcome of this phase is adream solutionthat can be transformative for their business.

At this stage, we ask sets of powerful questions:

  1. What is the problem/challenge they have?
  2. What is the untapped opportunity?
  1. What is not a problem in their business today?
  2. Who are not their customer base today and may not be customers tomorrow?

Next, we would encourage our Operations and Marketing leaders to chart out their business in a simple Landscape Analysis tool and also ask them to list the Supersystem and Subsystem for their businesses. In this case, the main constituents of their business include: Buyers, Insurance buyers, and the Providers (this also includes hospitals and some other agencies to monitor the compliance part).

Insurance Company: Landscape Analysis Framework

Insurance Company: Landscape Analysis Framework

Then as a next step, we would ask them to work on theIdeality or Dream solution that the players might expect in their ecosystem.This might look something like the one below:

Dream Solution

Dream Solution

So, our business leaders would end up defining a solution that works out to:Benefits for All the Players(Divided by)the Sum of all Harmful Factors Affecting the Players(plus)the Cost Involved

If that sounds confusing,let’s step back for a moment and examine Ideality or the Dream solution:

    1. Let’s for a minute say, you are a surgeon,and performing a surgical procedure is your daily chore. Now given a case as a surgeon, you may decide that a surgery may not be required at all, or that a new way of addressing the problem exists. Or, you may want to try a new method which you were thinking about for a long time now.Any of these things could be ideality or a Dream solution given a situation for the surgeon.
    2. As a banker, your Ideality could be “No defaults” in the loan recovery process (i.e. doing all that is possible to ensure that there is no default).
    3. As an airline operator, your Ideality could be to ensure that you fly on time and increase revenues. (Note: It is possible to have more than one ideality).
    4. As a high-rise construction firm which would want to install a glass facade, your customers would ideally want a glass that cleans itself (Saint Gobain has installed these in many high rises).
    5. Similarly, you could think of self-driving (autonomous cars), self-healing networks, and, the list goes on.
  • Ideality or Dream solutions exist at the Strategic level as well: top management’s ideality, for instance, could be to consolidate the company’s position as a market leader and be an X-billion dollar company by the year 2022.
  • Ideality in the Product development group: zero rejections, no changes in customer requirements
  • Ideality in the Service Industry: self-serviceability, self-help systems,

As you can see,this structured approach leading to ideality is truly empowering to our Marketing and Operations’ leaders. Their goal is to drive innovation in their companies without hiring management consulting firms to think for them.

What is the possibility, though, of a visionary, creative Innovation Head creating a similar solution?Well,it’s possible that a visionary would come up with the kernel of an idea. But with a structured and disciplined approach, our Marketing and Operations’ leaders will have a more comprehensive solution. They will have covered more ground than the creative guy, and their approach would be more holistic and effective.Their solution would not just result in a well-grounded concept, but a concept that is ready for monetization, thereby generating Returns on Innovation Investment.

Idea Selection and The Sweet Spot

Now that you are at the stage where you have well-grounded concepts ready for ideation, it is time to select and experiment with these ideas.Assessing ideas and prioritization is a challenge for the innovation leaders. The simple rule to evaluate an idea would be to look at:

  • Customer Desirability: Will the end customer like the idea or not? How well do you know your customers, their desires, and pain points? To address this question, it is necessary to spend time with your customers in action and observe their choices.
  • Technical Feasibility:Can you develop this? What is your ability to do a quick POC with limited resources? Will your skill in doing this be a big differentiator?
  • Economic Viability:If 1 and 2 are taken care of, then this third point will be eventually taken care of. You will need to come up with an innovative business model.
  • Long-term Sustainability:This is the factor that makes sure an idea will work in the long run. Your idea may be very good, but do you have resources? Is your environment-friendly towards you? Do you nurture your ecosystem? These points will make sure that your idea works when you scale up. You need to think of this at the early stage and see that this is built into your product design and business planning. Elon Musk, for instance, worked this into his plan for Tesla: from supporting the lithium supply for his car batteries to sharing technology so that charging ports would be economically viable and available to his customers.

Like I said at the start, there is a lot to learn from the personal and business traits of our heroes. At the same time,you can appreciate that the innovation giants of our time have based their journey very keenly on the principles of structured innovations.

By identifying ideas that are useful, desirable, feasible, and viable – and by identifying where you might be able to build value for your ecosystem, you bring yourself considerably closer to achieving your sweet spot with optimal investment and the best returns. The best practice processes likeMinimum Viable Product (MVP), Minimum Awesome Product (MAP), and Experimentation are the next logical steps that actually bring you home to your sweet spot.Bringing in structured innovation guarantees that your business will be able to repeat this cycle of linear and disruptive innovations to build a successful, sustainable enterprise.

Over the years, my clients, especially startups that were founded on a unique idea, have recognized this value of strong, research-backed innovation. They appreciate how it brings them significantly closer to their goal ofbuilding a business that can continuously innovate while generating value. I would like to hear your thoughts on how structured innovation might influence your startup or growing business. You can write to me at[email protected].

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Sridhar DPis a senior industry advisor on innovation enablement and moonshot thinking. He is the Founder & Chief Integrator atInnovation Enabler, a strategy collaborator for startups and enterprises seeking to: build unfair competitive advantages, create stakeholder value, and define processes that generate innovation and intellectual property. He has led Management-level Consulting assignments in Telecommunications, Energy, Manufacturing, and Healthcare. Sridhar holds Executive MBA from IIMB, Innovation & IP from IISc, Bangalore. He writes athttps://www.ienabler.co/blogs/.

Image: Designed by Freepik

Sridhar DP2018-08-16T20:24:21+00:00

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How to be Innovative Like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg? An Essay Recently, I was tagged in an interesting Quora question. To summarize, the OP was looking to learn: how entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg identified the sweet spot in their businesses. I

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Elon Musk and Steve Jobs' brilliant trick to inspire employees

Like most leaders, Elon Musk has big ambitions for his team — really big. The billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla wants to colonize Mars and transform the world's energy system.

With such seemingly impossible goals, how does one inspire people to work tirelessly to make it happen?

According to the popular 2015 biography "Elon Musk" by Ashlee Vance, Musk uses a brilliant management trick to get the most out of his people.

After interviewing three dozen SpaceX engineers, Vance discovered that Musk doesn't just set deadlines; he gets people to take ownership over their projects.

"He doesn't say, 'You have to do this by Friday at 2 p.m.,'" early SpaceX engineer Kevin Brogan tells Vance. "He says, 'I need the impossible done by Friday at 2 p.m. Can you do it?'

"Then, when you say yes, you are not working hard because he told you. You're working hard for yourself."

For smart, ambitious people this kind of challenge can be highly motivating, even if it's stressful.

Steve Jobs

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Another great tech leader, the late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, used a similar strategy. Jobs was notorious for his "reality distortion field," a rules-bending logic that defied practicality.

Jobs frequently set improbable deadlines that sent employees scrambling. Interestingly, according to Walter Isaacson's 2011 book "Steve Jobs," it often worked.

"In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything," Bud Tribble, a software designer on Apple's Macintosh team in the early 1980s, says in the book. But it was this mindset that led Jobs "to actually be able to change reality."

While Isaacson notes that many leaders may distort reality, and Jobs had plenty of failings as a manager, his field was often "a tactic for accomplishing something."

Early employees like cofounder Steve Wozniak and controller Debi Coleman found the technique to be effective and empowering, according to the book.

Walter Isaacson

Michael Kovac | Getty Images

Isaacson writes: "It enabled Jobs to inspire his team to change the course of computer history with a fraction of the resources of Xerox or IBM. 'It was a self-fulfilling distortion,' [Coleman] claimed. 'You did the impossible, because you didn't realize it was impossible.'"

After all, isn't that the job of any great leader — to plot a course, create a sense of urgency, and inspire people to achieve what they never thought possible?

When you think back on the best boss you ever had, was it the one who was exceedingly nice and provided an easygoing environment, or was it the one who pushed you to learn and grow and achieve more than you ever expected of yourself?

I'd venture to bet the latter.

See also: Billionaire Elon Musk credits his success to these 8 books

With such seemingly impossible goals, how does one inspire people to work tirelessly to make it happen?

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Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011 · 1 min read

Some men do great things in the prime of their lives, then retire to enjoy the fruits of their labors, and perhaps to sit on some boards or give some talks. Steve Jobs's last decade was the most productive of his life—hell, of almost any man's life. He burned everything there was to burn within him and went out in a blaze of glory.

When he stepped down as CEO of Apple, some said it was because he was close to death. Perhaps instead, his life had to end because he could no longer work.

"Rest in peace" seems inappropriate for such a man, like an insult or a curse. If there were a Heaven, it would be for Jobs a continuation of his life on earth, thinking about the future and working to make it real.

Copyright © Jason Crawford. Some rights reserved: CC BY-ND 4.0

Steve Jobs died ten years ago today.

Some men do great things in the prime of their lives, then retire to enjoy the fruits of their labors, and perhaps to sit on some boards or give some talks.

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The window of the Apple Store in downtown San Francisco, ten years ago. People left their thoughts on post-it notes. https://t.co/dNJddb5S8I

7 months ago

Working with Steve Jobs

February 10, 2013 · 1 min read

An article by Glenn Reid on “What it’s Really Like Working with Steve Jobs” is worth reading because it counters a false image of how visionary leaders work.

First, even the best product people don’t design by divine revelation. Reid says has this to say about building product:

It is a process which requires understanding the parameters, the goals, and the gives and takes. Stretch what’s possible, use technologies that are good, rein it in when the time comes, polish it and ship it.… It wasn’t magic, it was hard work, thoughtful design, and constant iteration.

Second, great leaders—even those with highly developed intuition and excellent judgment—don’t dominate by sheer force of personality, with their own ideas winning out simply because of who they are. Reid says:

There was kind of an approach we took, unconsciously, which I characterize in my mind as a “cauldron”. There might be 3 or 4 or even 10 of us in the room, looking at, say, an iteration of iPhoto. Ideas would come forth, suggestions, observations, whatever. We would “throw them into the cauldron”, and stir it, and soon nobody remembered exactly whose ideas were which. This let us make a great soup, a great potion, without worrying about who had what idea. This was critically important, in retrospect, to decouple the CEO from the ideas. If an idea was good, we’d all eventually agree on it, and if it was bad, it just kind of sank to the bottom of the pot. We didn’t really remember whose ideas were which—it just didn’t matter.

Jobs was a master product designer and a forceful personality. But the way he and his team worked was the way any team should work—iterate constantly and let the best ideas win.

Thanks to Andrew Miner, Blake Scholl, David Crawford, and Keith Schacht for commenting on a draft of this post.

An article by Glenn Reid on “What it’s Really Like Working with Steve Jobs” is worth reading because it counters a false image of how visionary leaders work.

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Apple Inc

Shop online and get Specialist help, free no-contact delivery, and more. Shop with a Specialist , get credit with Apple Trade In, choose free delivery or pickup, and more at the Apple Store Online . Shop with a Specialist , get credit with Apple Trade In, choose free delivery or pickup, and more at the Apple Store Online .

From $29.12/mo. for 24 mo. or $699 before trade‑in 1

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The official Apple Inc Website!
Apple was a company started by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak!
Currently it is one of the biggest companies on Earth!
Their products are super expensive but they have a rich ecosystem!
Extremely Vertically Integrated

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It’s goal-setting season for companies and individuals alike, but not all goals are created equal. Some goals are far more likely to propel people into senior executive roles, and some goals are far more likely to turn average executives into legends.

In the study “ Are SMART Goals Dumb? ,” my firm Leadership IQ studied more than 16,000 people to discover what types of goals lead to breakthrough performance. And among the dozens of findings, here’s one that will immediately impact your career trajectory.

Top Executives Are 64% More Likely To Set Difficult Or Audacious Goals

What separates the people who become top executives from everyone else? Is it luck? Or talent? Or ambition? The answer varies based on the exact circumstances, but there’s one factor that seems to have a big impact, and it’s the extent to which someone sets really difficult goals vs. more achievable and realistic goals (e.g., SMART Goals).

As you can see in the chart below, when we analyze goal-setting behaviors by a person’s level in the organization, we discovered that 54% of top executives set difficult or audacious goals, while that was true for only 33% of frontline employees. In other words, top executives are about 64% more likely to set difficult or audacious goals.

Data from the study "Are SMART Goals Dumb"

Leadership IQ

Now, it’s no guarantee that setting difficult or audacious goals will propel someone into the senior executive ranks. But the linear relationship between one’s rung on the career ladder and difficult goals is striking. And for anyone interested in discovering the secrets to becoming a top executive, this is critical data.

Top Executives Are 91% More Likely To Enjoy Leaving Their Comfort Zone

It’s not just difficult goals that are strongly correlated with being a top executive. Using an online test called “ Do You Set HARD Goals or SMART Goals? ,” the study revealed that top executives are far more likely to enjoy learning new skills and leaving their comfort zone.

The 12,801 people who took the online test were asked to choose between the statements, “I don’t like to leave my comfort zone,” or, “I will leave my comfort zone on occasion,” or, “I like to leave my comfort zone.” And the data revealed that top executives are 91% more likely to enjoy leaving their comfort zone in pursuit of their goals.

There is a very strong linear relationship between how high a person ranks in the company and how much they are willing to leave their comfort zone in pursuit of their goals. Frontline employees and junior managers are more likely to enjoy the traditional status quo. By contrast, top executives are far more likely to enjoy leaving their comfort zone.

Steve Jobs And Elon Musk Set Really Difficult Goals

In a 1985 Playboy interview, Steve Jobs uttered his famous “dent in the universe” line. While his exact words have been misquoted countless times, what he actually said in reference to the types of people that Apple was hiring is still pretty difficult and audacious:

“At Apple, people are putting in 18-hour days. We attract a different type of person: a person who doesn’t want to wait five or ten years to have someone take a giant risk on him or her. Someone who really wants to get in a little over his head and make a little dent in the universe. We are aware that we are doing something significant. We are here at the beginning of it and were able to shape how it goes. Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future.”

Imagine instead that Steve had said, “We’re working eighteen-hour days because we think that we can reduce the fees you pay at the ATM from three dollars to two dollars.” Does that statement rise to the level of making a little “dent in the universe?” Would that goal count as difficult and audacious? Probably not.

Elon Musk is considered by many people as one of Silicon Valley’s most adventurous entrepreneurs, and he exemplifies setting difficult goals and leaving his comfort zone. From building a superhighway to the Moon to colonizing Mars, Elon doesn’t set his sights on average goals. Tell him that something is a safe bet, and it’s a safe bet that he won’t want to do it. Blogging about Tesla’s founding, Elon wrote:

“I thought our chances of success were so low that I didn’t want to risk anyone’s funds in the beginning but my own. The list of successful car company startups is short. As of 2016, the number of American car companies that haven’t gone bankrupt is a grand total of two: Ford and Tesla. Starting a car company is idiotic and an electric car company is idiocy squared.”

It’s not everyone who will invest their own millions into an endeavor that has a strong track record of failure. But when you consider that Elon’s definition of success, then you begin to understand the drive to set difficult goals and leave his comfort zone.

Here’s How You Can Get Started

Name the most significant and meaningful accomplishments in your life. Achievements that may have been professional or personal, or whatever. For example: “When I started a new business,” or “The day I ran the Boston Marathon (and all the training that led up to it),” or “Standing in the starting gate at the Olympics,” or “That breakthrough product I invented,” or “When I nursed my sick child back to health,” or “When I got my college degree.” Remember, it’s no one’s call but yours to name the victories that have been the most important to you.

Now I want you to take whatever response you gave and ask yourself the following question; “Is my goal for 2021 as difficult and audacious as those goals were?”

If your 2021 goal passes the test, congratulations. But if it doesn’t, then make your goal more difficult and extend past your comfort zone a bit more. And remember that you’ve actually pursued and accomplished these types of difficult and audacious goals before.

Not all goals are created equal. Some goals are far more likely to propel people into senior executive roles, and some goals are far more likely to turn average executives into legends.

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