Learning from Steve Jobs

Gleaning from SJ – by Leslie Choudhury

Steve Jobs’ impact on our life cannot be underestimated. His innovations have likely touched nearly every aspect — computers, movies, music and mobile. As a communications coach, I learned from Jobs that a presentation can, indeed, inspire. For many people, leaders, managers, Jobs’ greatest legacy is the set of principles that drove his success. We need to learn from this. What are you creating that is worth sharing?
Over the years, I’ve become a student of many great leaders and of course of Steve Job’s career and life. Here’s my take on the rules and values underpinning his success. Any of us can adopt them to unleash our “inner Steve Jobs.” Question that remains is will we?

1. Do what you love. Jobs once said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” Asked about the advice he would offer would-be leaders, he said, “I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.” That’s how much it meant to him. Passion is everything. Nothing can or will substitute passion. In dealing with companies and people I have come to realize this is a critical success ingredient. I recently had to advise an old friend, to quit his job because he was not passionate about it and if he could not get passionate then ‘get out’. In the alternate scenario I encouraged a young, vibrant lady to take up a leadership role because she was full of passion and it needed that step for her to realize what she is capable of. When you do what you love, it isn’t a job, it is where you get your natural adrenalin rush from, it is fun, it is like a favourite sport, hobby … and sometimes people have to tell you to stop!

2. Put a dent in the universe. Jobs believed in the power of vision. I once asked the founder and former chairman of Sony Corporation, Akio Morita, “What was his Vision?” His was a simple vision, “To make things smaller and better!” Sony grew from nothing to one of the largest most successful electronic companies in the world. Their success was through ‘innovation’. They have made a dent in the world. How do you want to spend your life? How will you be involved in changing the world?” What is your vision? Don’t lose sight of this vision.

3. Make connections. Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn’t have any practical use in his life — until he built the Macintosh. Jobs travelled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don’t live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields. Networking is a key to success. I cannot imagine to be where I am today if not for knowing the right people, having been connected with a variety of people and experiences. I have been involved with sports, music, church and para-church organizations, civil service and corporate think-tanks, hospitality, travel, time-share, and education. As Steve Jobs says, you can only connect the dots looking backwards. Today, I can so embrace what life unfolds as I made the connections yesterday that keep paying off tomorrow.

4. Say ‘No’ to many things. Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the “A-Team” on each product. What are you saying “no” to? I have said no to Seychelles, Qatar, Fiji, New Zealand, numerous assignments, appointments, jobs, directorships, etc as they would have not helped me focus on being what I want to be or getting where I want to go. Life is about choices. We must choose to focus. Many people focus on what is urgent and not on what is important. We must focus on what is important, crucial, vision-critical not what is urgent.

5. Create insanely different experiences. Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are we doing to enrich the lives of our customers? Are we creating memory banks for our clients? Moments clients will relish, touch them, change them and remain in them forever … we can! I love having an impact on a person long after the face to face encounter. I always think about what I can do different, how I can give people those kind of ‘life changing’ experiences?

6. Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. Jobs was the world’s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation. What is the story we tell our customer? What is the story they will tell others? I recently had a series of workshops conducted for DELL computers on ‘Emotional Intelligence’, where every single available seat was taken up and in fact quite overbooked. When asking each person, why they were there in my workshop it was immensely encouraging to hear them say ‘I was told I should not miss this opportunity by so and so’. If our message is right, touching, life-changing, it will be spread!

7. Sell dreams, not products. Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It’s so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Our customers don’t care about our products. They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if we help our customers reach their dreams, we’ll win them over.

There’s one story that I think sums up Jobs’ career at Apple. An executive who had the job of reinventing the Disney Store once called up Jobs and asked for advice. His counsel? ‘Dream Bigger’. I think that’s the best advice he could leave us with. See genius in our craziness, believe in ourself, believe in our vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas. I just finished attending a symposium where a lovely lady named Sharon from Australia talked about ‘Selling Goosebumps’ ! We are in the business of selling dreams, creating dreams, making dreams come true ..making memories, creating experiences that bring a warmth to the heart and souls of our customers. I want to be part of this …do you?

See it, be it, live it !!!


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