Steve Jobs – One name, or rather, a brand that stands synonymous with the Genius, Brash, Unparalleled perseverance & of course – Start Up! This book by Brent Schlender & Rick Tetzeli is a bonus for people willing to learn from Steve’s growth ->fall ->growth. This book undoubtedly ushers a very well deserved praise for all of Jobs’ genius & perseverance to “making a dent in the universe”; but also glorifies his weakness, his fall, & his ‘Human’ nature that can help many of us learn in our professional/business lives. 


Below is my interpretation of the book (I’ve captured only the weak spots; his genius is a journey which resulted in Apple’s M-Cap @USD 754Bn as on today – higher than any other company globally & Pixar generating content that grows stronger by the day)

  • Even potential like Steve comes with an expiration date – This happened after he’d been ousted from Apple. Aged 30, he still enjoyed the superhero status in Silicon Valley, & had a lot of people put in their money into his next venture – NeXT. But after a couple of years, when he had nothing significant to show in terms of numbers, the same people had started running out of patience.
  • He had absolute self confidence that he could sell people a sense of discovery in the form of technological products they previously didn’t even know they wanted, a confidence that was usually justified. E.g. Most beautiful circuit boards. – Such confidence only yields results when combined with superior products. Only the beautifully crafted circuit boards could never have brought Apple to where it is.
  • Steve was looking in the mirror while McNealy (sun) had been looking out the window to learn what the world really needed – Much needed philosophical introspection anyone looking out to make on his own should take note of. Sun (owner of Java) was soaring at the time Steve was in his decline. He was still adamant ‘He’ was the centre & while Sun was focussed on what happened in the world. Steve soon realized it & also took that view while his return to Apple.
  • Pixar’s Brain Trust: Provide constructive criticism, no authority, only listen to advice – This is a Pixar management strategy which helps them improve upon each decision. A core think tank helps them achieve this.
  • The iPod was empty without music. If music industry had stuck together for dual revenue stream, they would’ve got somewhere – This is the power Steve brought during negotiations. He got the entire music industry to share 30% revenue from all song downloads on iTunes. Doing this after an embarrassing negotiation with IBM for sale of NeXT is a massive turnaround. iPods soared & music industry helped Apple sell more iPods! He did the same with Disney (Pixar deal) & Telecom players (launch of iPhone)
  • One of the things I’ve always felt is that if you’re going to be creative, it’s like jumping up in the air; you want to make damn sure the ground is going to be there when you get back – One of Steve’s advice to his associates.
  • I don’t know that I can convince people that a tablet is a product category that has real value. But I know that I can convince people they need a better phone – Knowing when to enter into a product category is a mix of intuition & understanding consumer behaviour. Had Steve pushed his pet project of the iPad before iPhone, who knows what would’ve been the outcome.
  • Story of a man who matured slowly into a seasoned leader is less interesting. Learning how to have disposable cash flow, how to pick the right people, and growing and rounding off the sharp edges, and not merely acting strange; that’s not as interesting – Following an image of Steve Jobs as an outright brash is deadly for entrepreneurs! Also, such hype only helps selling book/movie content.
  • It wasn’t about numbers. It was a vindication that restored his sense of faith in humanity. Given the choice, people DO discern and value quality more than we give them credit for – Looking at positive reviews & of course sales, his faith in his own vision grew stronger. So we must have feedback to channel our energies!
  • Google releasing android for free, while Eric Schmidt was still on apple board, was no less than a replay of what gates had done with windows 2 decades ago. Apple sued Samsung but later decided to drop all lawsuits outside US. Steve’s intense focus was a huge competitive advantage, the legal battle had become an albatross and was likely to prove to be a distraction but not until 2014 (after Steve’s death)– They could’ve saved huge costs, but being adamant at all times is not good!
  • His people management – he prioritised ruthlessly, and when Avie and Ruby (his core Excom during Apple’s turnaround years) tumbled down in the ranks of people who could deliver what he believed apple needed, he moved on. Same as he did with Woz – Taking your people along is important. But this, I believe, is solely a personal discretion on prioritizing!
  • Bill Gates’ view on Steve – Most people looking to mimic Steve as an entrepreneur have the Asshole part done, but what they lack is the Genius part!

Do share your views/feedback in the comments section

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  1. […] Steve’s idea of small talk was to glance out the window, make a brief comment about the weather, and then immediately start talking about the business at hand. I wanted to patch things with Pixar and Steve. Content (Disney) and technology (Pixar)! This is our new video iPod, he said. It had a screen the size of a couple of postage stamps, but he was talking about it like it was an imax theatre. Steve responded to boldness, and I wanted to signal to him that there could be a different way of doing business with Disney going forward (Read more on Steve Jobs' leadership here) […]

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