Lessons from Steve Jobs

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Via HBL is a list of things author and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki learned by working with and closely observing Steve Jobs. Here is a list of the points, to each of which Kawasaki devotes about a paragraph:

  • The biggest challenges beget best work. 
  • Design counts. 
  • You can't go wrong with big graphics and big fonts. 
  • Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence. 
  • "Value" is different from "price." 
  • A players hire A+ players. 
  • Real CEOs demo. 
  • Real CEOs ship. 
  • Marketing boils down to providing unique value. 
  • Bonus: Some things need to be believed to be seen. 
All of these, even the last, whose title sounded hokie to me, teach something valuable. What strikes me the most about the list is how Jobs's independence undergirds so much of it. This is most obvious in Kawasaki's maxim that "Real CEOs demo":
Steve Jobs could demo a pod, pad, phone, and Mac two to three times a year with millions of people watching, why is it that many CEOs call upon their vice-president of engineering to do a product demo? Maybe it's to show that there's a team effort in play. Maybe. It's more likely that the CEO doesn't understand what his/her company is making well enough to explain it. How pathetic is that?
Also pathetic is the fear of superior talent that the second-hander, the opposite of the independent man, shows in his hiring decisions. (It is an interesting exercise to speculate as to why this is the case.) It is worthwhile to learn, from Kawasaki's discussion of the hiring practices of what he calls "A players," that such foolishness inexorably comes with its own just desserts:
Actually, Steve believed that A players hire A players -- that is people who are as good as they are. I refined this slightly -- my theory is that A players hire people even better than themselves. It's clear, though, that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players. If you start hiring B players, expect what Steve called "the bozo explosion" to happen in your organization.
The take-home message, on top of "Value and respect talent," is, "Beware of the second-handed". If you find yourself in an organization with a second-hander who holds a position of power, for example, you could well catch shrapnel from his "bozo explosion".

For the value-oriented, this list is worth reading in full -- and thinking about very carefully.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

I just printed it out. I find the tips will definitely help me with my Mary Kay Cosmetics business.

Bookish Babe

Gus Van Horn said...

Hi BB,

I'm always happy to learn that people find something here useful. Thanks for letting me know.