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Saturday, October 8, 2011

All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned From Apple

All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned From Apple
Ali Kafel – Oct 7th, 2011

I was watching a pre-recorded CNBC business program last night when my 15-year-old son, Samir, came downstairs from doing his homework to tell me that Steve Jobs had died.  It hit me hard.  Although I didn’t know Steve Jobs personally, I (like so many others) had admired him from afar for years.  I had read about his life, studied his business successes and became so comfortable in a world with Steve Jobs in it that a world now without him seemed alien and even a little frightening.

The leadership and vision of Steve Jobs transformed Apple into the kind of company that most corporations can only dream of being.  Sure, we’ve all read the books about teamwork, motivating people and building great companies.  But Steve Jobs lived those principles every day, and I learned more by watching his life than I ever could from reading a book.  Everything I learned from Steve Jobs can be summed up in three principles: 

Principle #1: Do What You Love.
Jobs once said: “You've got to find what you love.  And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.  Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Principle #2: Dream Big.
Whether it was the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone or the iPad, Steve Jobs was all about putting a dent in the universe.  His goal for every new product was to reinvent and revolutionize.  If it wasn’t revolutionary, Jobs wouldn’t hesitate to push back—even if it meant postponing a launch—to get it right rather than just get it out. The Mac revolutionized the computer industry. The iPod revolutionized the music industry—and this dream was explicit.  During the iPod’s unveiling, Steve Jobs displayed his clarity of vision: "It will go down in history as a turning point for the music industry."  The iPhone put the Internet and its wealth of knowledge in the palms of our hands and (again) found a way to make work seem fun.  As I write this, the iPad is revolutionizing our desktop and the distribution of multimedia content.

Principle #3: Connect the Dots.
This one ties it all together for me.  Steve Jobs spent a lot of his time learning and studying “the dots” created by other industries and companies.  Whether it was the Sony Walkman, mobile phones, notebooks or electronic retail stores, Steve Jobs always succeeded in connecting the dots that made these products successful.  He once said that creativity is connecting things, by which he meant that people with a broad set of life experiences from various disciplines can often see things that others miss.  When I think about the various “lines” that connect the dots, these things come to mind:  Intuitive, Simple, Cool, Fun and Effective.  Every Apple product is easy to use, cool and fun—and Apple’s messaging of the value proposition is clearly communicated, even in the Apple Stores.  Each time Samir and I visit the Apple Store in the Natick Mall, our experience is always the same: we have fun, we get great customer service and we leave the store with more knowledge than when we arrived.

In a sense, the life of Steve Jobs mirrors that experience. He made technology fun for all of us, showed us what could be gained when we excited and engaged our customers, and left the world wiser than he found it.

If Steve Jobs impacted your life too, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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