John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Entrepreneur, visionary, and world changer

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson 


   I just finished this 600+ page book. I wish it were 1,000 pages. I couldn’t put it down. As most of you know, I have always been a huge fan of Steve Jobs as an entrepreneur, visionary and world changer. This book stirred up every emotion I had from disappointment, dislike, fear, inspiration, admiration, and sympathy. I strongly recommend reading it, and I feel I learned a lot from both his unbelievable strengths and weaknesses.

  For those of you who will not get a chance to read the book, Isaacson just wrote a fantastic article in April’s addition of Harvard Business Review that does an incredible job of summarizing Jobs’strengths, entitled “The Real Leadership Lessons (14) of Steve Jobs”  (must read):

  1. Simplify – Jobs was a master at eliminating unnecessary components from his day-to-day life, the company focus, and from products they produced and sold. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
  2. Focus – When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, it was close to going bankrupt. He found them making over 30 different computers. He immediately stopped all production and forced them to make just 4 — that’s it. On his annual strategic meeting, he would force his people to come up with the top 10 priorities for the coming year. He then would slash the bottom 7 from the list and state, “We can only work on three.”
  3. Take responsibility end to end – Many call it controlling, others called it his passion for perfection. Whichever you call it, Jobs and Apple took end-to-end responsibility for the entire customer experience, from producing the hardware, to the software, and the devices. He didn’t trust, or want to be dependent on, another company ruining the user’s experience.
  4. When behind, leapfrog – Like every company, Apple couldn’t be on the forefront of every product. After they did create a revolutionary product, they then would focus on what they had been neglecting. For example, their focus on creating the Macintosh meant they fell behind when dealing with music. Instead of playing catch-up, they transformed the music industry with the introduction of the iPod.
  5. Put products before profits – Jobs was not driven by profit and money, rather making insanely great products. Focus on making the products great and the profits will follow.
  6. Don’t be a slave to focus groups – Jobs felt customers didn’t know what they wanted until you showed it to them. Caring deeply about what the customer wanted is different from continually asking them.
  7. Bend reality – Jobs was famous for pushing people to do the impossible. This was called his “reality distortion field.” He wouldn’t accept hearing that things couldn’t be done, regardless if they had never been done before. Those who worked with him admitted this trait pushed them to perform extraordinary things.
  8. Impute – Be obsessively detailed about your brand being represented in everything you do from marketing, to product design, to packaging.
  9. Push for perfection – Jobs was fanatical, and in every product or movie his companies ever made, he would hit the pause button and go back to the drawing board until it was perfect.
  10. Tolerate only A players – “I learned over the years that when you have really good people you don’t have to baby sit them,” said Jobs. “By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things.
  11. Engage face-to-face – Jobs was a strong believer in face-to-face meetings. “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions,” Jobs would say.
  12. Know both the big picture and the details – Typically leaders are either visionaries or detail oriented. Jobs some how was both. While he was developing products that would change the industry and the world, he was also obsessing over the screws and buttons on the product.
  13. Combine the humanities with the sciences – The theme of Jobs’ life was that he stood at the intersection of technology and art.
  14. Stay hungry, stay foolish – Jobs thought of himself as a rebel, building a company that was going to put a dent in the universe. “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Read the entire article


John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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