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7 Reasons to Read Steve Jobs Autobiography
I just finished the massive tome of a book that is the biography of Steve Jobs. I used to be but am no longer in the IT industry and don’t really care about Google vs Apple or any of that nonsense but I can tell you that this book is chock full of awesome business advice, reflection and strategies. If you are serious about almost any type of business, I highly suggest you read the biography of Steve Jobs and in this post I will share 7 reasons why.
7 Powerful Insights from Jobs
What drew me into Steve Jobs Autobiography was that Jobs had it sanctioned to be written but told the author he would NOT be editing it or even reading it before it was published. He wanted to give the opportunity to the author to get conflicting views and see all sides of his story, character and past.
1. Jobs was never known as a nice person. He used full candor with his staff, people he worked with, well, pretty much everyone around him. You and your body of work was either total crap or you were a genius (sometimes, on the same day). Takeaway: How many more people need candor in their lives? Brutal honesty in a company is powerful and is needed to create revolutionary businesses versus just pattycake everyone or appease teammates.
2. He quoted Wayne Gretzky, “Go where the puck is going, not where it’s been”. If you look at what Apple did with Steve at the helm, they did this, all the time. Getting music artists to agree to iTunes, the iPhone (and Google playing catchup with the Android), the graphical interface (that both Microsoft and Apple stole from Xerox but never marketed it) and the non-stylus driven iPad. He also talks about Henry Ford and the lack of relying on market research. Henry Ford is quoted as saying if he had asked people what they wanted before he invented the car, they would have told him a faster horse. Most people do not know exactly what conveniences or problems they may want solved in an exact way, until they see the solution.
3. He studied buddhism and eastern philosophy that relies more on intuition then on logic. Once a year he would read Autobiography of a Yogi (which you can download for free on the iPad). In some cases, his intuition was a much better indicator than logic. Example: The computer store had been tried and failed with Gateway so everyone advised Apple NOT to do stores. It is noted that in 2010, the Apple store in New York (been there) grossed more per square foot than any store in the world and more total dollars than ANY store in New York, that includes Saks, Macy’s, and Bloomingdales. Takeaway: There have been times when I went against my intuition with an opportunity and I cannot guarantee I was right 100% of the time, but it sure was close. Is there anything you are currently doing that deep down you know will not last?
4. He would have annual mastermind retreats with his top 100 employees, using a whiteboard he’d listen to ideas and new strategies, narrow it down to ten ideas then slash 7 and choose 3 ideas to focus on for the next year. Takeaway: When I look back over my varying careers or attempts at businesses, it is ONLY when I focused on a few key things that I had success. Are you currently focused on learning or growing too many things?
5. He put the pressure on him and his team by developing closed products. Microsoft achieved market dominance in computer software by being open and allowing anyone with any hardware to run their software. Apple did not. Not because they were against hackers but that they took the pressure upon the company to make the very best products.
6. Jobs only wanted A players in his team. Earlier in life I read the book, Straight from the gut, by Jack Welch and he talked about how across the board pay increases or across the board pay decreases was a company’s inability to address weakness. Welch also went on to suggest the letting go of the bottom 10% of every department annually to keep competition and the right players in the company. Steve Jobs had a very similar mindset that he believed A game players wanted to work with other A game players. Takeaway: I enjoy spending time with people that are hungry and motivated. I can spend 8 hours on the phone and time flies by. However, get me on the phone with complainers, people that are entitled, are needy in nature and looking for something outside of them to solve their problems and after 10 minutes I want to chew glass. How many people are you either working with or working on to get into your business that is simply not worthy of your time?
7. Jobs attempted to understand himself and teach others about how precious time is. Relating to my post yesterday on the precious asset of time, he did his Stanford commencement address on this concept.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs
Takeaway: How much better would the world be if we all followed our heart?
There are a lot of things in the Steve Jobs biography that displays his lack of balance in life and his lack of internal peace. He was certainly human and like all of his had his certain character flaws. However, the leadership lessons in this book makes it a must read in my view.
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