EllStev 11-08-111

The Steve Jobs Way

iLeadership for a New Generation


Jay Elliot

Vanguard, 2011, 242 pp.  ISBN 978-1-59315-639-8


Jay Elliot served as the Senior Vice President of Apple and Steve Jobs' close colleague.   Since then he has founded two software companies.  The book takes readers on a tour of Jobs' career, highlighting his leadership strengths.  As the author says, Steve is in a class by himself.  Steve Jobs, 55, resigned as chief executive at Apple Computer on August 24, 2011 because of pancreatic cancer. 


"It was awesome to see how open he was to possibilities, how excited he was about recognizing new ideas, seeing their value, and embracing them.  And his enthusiasm is infectious." (Prologue)


Steve had a vision about the power of the computer to change people's lives.


"You won't get people working for you fired up with enthusiasm unless you're fired up yourself . . . and you let everyone know it." (5)


In the early days Apple was like a runaway ship, plowing through the water at full speed with lots of people on the bridge but no one really in command.  (6)


Steve was described as having "a power of vision that is almost frightening. When Steve believes in something, the power of that vision can literally sweep aside any objections, problems or whatever.  They just cease to exist." (15)


"Great products only come from people who are passionate."  (15)


About half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.  If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out.  (17) 


The more he advanced, the simpler his products became.  Sometimes it's less about the product and more about the user.  More people will buy if customers feel good using the product.  (19)


Steve's level of focus on details is one of the most crucial aspects of his success and the success of his products. (19) 


Steve was driven to produce products that would be intuitive to use and "create an experience so satisfying that the user would feel an emotional attachment to it." (25)


"Apple would become known as a company that celebrated just about everything…." (40)


"Apple should be the kind of place where anybody can walk in and share his ideas with the CEO."  (42) 


"Democracies don't make great products--you need a competent tyrant." (44)  "He gave the orders but made everyone feel that 'he's one of us.'" (44) 


"Beyond hiring for capabilities, Steve makes sure his hires are true Apple enthusiasts capable of thriving in an intense start-up environment." (57)  


"Every team needs the spark of at least a few truly creative people who 'think different'--different enough to set an example for everyone else." (61)


"One of the greatest things about finding good people is that they become your best recruiters.  They are the people most likely to know others who have the same values and sense of style that you and they themselves do." (61)


"Beginner's mind--the ability to see familiar things freshly."  (62)   


Artists sign their work.  Steve had the signatures of the original engineering team members etched inside the cabinet of every Mac computer.  (73)


In Steve's organization, the product is at the core of everything--including recognizing and motivating people. Everyone's attention is focused on the product.  (75)


"When the iPhone was introduced, every employee received one free.  So did every part-timer and consultant who had been with the company for more than a year." (77) 


"The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money; it was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater." (78) 


When Steve Jobs recruited John Sculley, Exec VP of PepsiCo to be CEO, the clincher appeal was this:  "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water, or do you want a chance to change the world?"  (90)  [Steve's powers of persuasion are legendary, including recruiting top flight talent.]


"Successful companies need to learn from the start-up mentality that innovates."  "The organization structure of any company needs to be constantly reviewed to make sure it meets the product needs, from development to sales." (102)


"Every opportunity starts with an unmet need.  If you can build a product to meet that need, it becomes a 'must-have.'"  (109) 


Steve was taken off the Mac project and left Apple for 10 years.  When Apple bought Job's company NeXT, Steve came back to Apple with it and soon engineered himself into the CEO position.  (117 ff) 


Even while he was gone, employees--including employees that came after he left--were in awe of him.  "What a goal for us all to aspire to: creating an aura so strong that people who never met us still feel our presence after we've left." (117)


"Steve's real gift is his ability to refine consumer products.  He's a superb editor and polisher whose core philosophy is 'less is more.'" (120)


Steve was adopted as an infant.  He dropped out of college after one semester and took a journey to India.  He returned as a practicing Zen Buddhist and fruitarian.  (133)


"One thing that Steve learned from the whole wrenching experience of being exiled was the importance of a board of directors that understands what the head of the company is doing strategically."  Board members must understand the company, its vision, and its CEO.  "The ideal board is a group of people with differing business experiences who use the company's product religiously and have a very clear understanding of who the customer is and where the business should be in five years."  Profit is an outcome of the product and the people who run the company.  The product is the company's heart. (142)


You cannot design product with focus groups.  If Henry Ford had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.  "If you ask a group of people . . . how to make it better, the odds are they will think of things that are wrong with it.  You may get some guidance for incremental improvements.  But you won't get game-changing ideas for new products.  (147)  "What you need are people who focus on what their experience could be." (148)  "Innovators create products that are an outgrowth of what they imagine, things that help them create a world they would like to live in." (148)


Jobs pulled the plug on established, steady-selling products in order to focus on a few of the best.  [Apple currently sells only 20 products.]  He said, "I'm as proud of what we don't do as I am of what we do." (157)  "What enables Steve to focus is, I think, the ability to envision the future and his driving need to make it happen." (157)


"To be an entrepreneurial company, new ideas must become the lifeblood of the organization.  How can you foster new ideas in a traditional corporate culture?  You can't.  It's doesn't work.  Entrepreneurial companies and traditional companies are two fundamentally different organisms." (158) 


"In an entrepreneurial environment, receptiveness and reward for new ideas are the ways to engage people to give their best and feel they have a stake in the company."  But you must have a vision for people to follow--a road map into infinity.  (159)  "In traditional companies, people are so focused on productivity and profits that they don't have time to look at things from a radically different perspective." (159) 


"Nothing in companies is as blinding as a strategy, an approach, or a product line that has worked before.  Success can be self-defeating, if it leads you into the rut of repeating yourself.  Too often we cannot envision a different world because we've gotten into the habit of looking at our world with the mind-set of what has worked before." (161) "At Apple, what you can imagine can get made.  Good employees find that incredibly inspiring."  (161)


"The criterion for the product itself, and every conceivable improvement, is, 'Will this help the purchaser?'  And the main way of answering that is, 'Will I personally want this feature--will I want it and use it?'" (178)


From the beginning Jobs grasped that Apple could only be a major success if it became familiar as a brand.  (183)  He "has a master craftsman's ability to create a consistent, positive product image in the minds of his customers."  (186) 


Steve loves to find products that are klutzy.  It gives him something to improve.  If everybody hates some product, Steve sees opportunity.  (204) 


In the first three months on the market, the iPhone sold nearly 1.5 million units and by mid-2010, it has sold 50 million iPhones.  (210)  New apps are flooding onto the web at the rate of 300 a day, with more than 200,000 to choose from! (211)  Apple has created programming aids making the process so uncomplicated that almost anybody who isn't intimidated by computers can create an iPhone app.  (212) 


Content is king.  "The Apple of the future will become more and more a company putting in our hands devices that deliver content." (215)


"You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.  This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."  Steve Jobs, commencement speech, Stanford University, 2009  [The author thinks this expresses a core part of Steve Jobs' outlook on life.]