40 Years Later, Steve Jobs’ Success Secrets Still Apply To Aspiring Leaders

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Contrary to business mythology Apple did not start in a garage 40 years ago. On April 1, 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne founded Apple in the spare bedroom of Jobs’ parents house. As the orders rolled in they moved to the kitchen table, followed by the garage. Remarkably, the same business habits that Steve Jobs began to develop decades ago in that tiny bedroom apply to today’s business leaders more than ever.

“The Seven Secrets to Steve Jobs’ success.” Looking back on the program, it’s clear that the seven rules which turned Apple into the world’s most valuable brand still ring true. In fact, Steve Jobs turned out to be ahead of his time in nearly every aspect of business. You, too, can achieve uncommon success if you follow Steve Jobs’ principles.

The Evolution Of Apple

 

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Do What You Love

“People with passion can change the world for the better,” Steve Jobs told his staff upon his return to Apple in 1997. In a rare appearance with Bill Gates, Jobs said, “People say you need to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing and it’s totally true. And the reason is because it’s so hard that if you don’t [have it] any rational person would give up. So if you don’t love it and you’re not having fun doing it you’re going to give up. If you don’t love it, you’re going to fail. So you’ve got to love it and have passion.”

A growing body of research proves that Jobs is right. Genuine enthusiasm can’t be faked, which is why we respond positively to people who are authentically passionate about their topic, product, or company. In everything from job interviews to business pitches, passion matters

 

Put A Dent In The Universe

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?” The question that Steve Jobs posed to then PepsiCo president John Sculley hit Sculley “like a punch to the gut.” Jobs always had a big, bold vision of the future, one that was intoxicating to employees, partners and customers.

Jobs’ vision to make a personal computer for the everyday consumer led him to the Parc research center in Palo Alto where Xerox was working on the first graphical user interface. If it had not been for Jobs’ vision of a simplified, more entertaining computer system, he might have overlooked the research. Instead he used it in the Mac. Research has shown that two people can see the same thing and interpret differently based on their vision. Vision sets forces in motion.

 

Keep A Sharp Eye For Details

Steve Jobs drove engineers crazy with seemingly irrational demands, even dictating the aesthetics inside the computer. “Nobody will see it,” they would say. “We’ll know it’s there,” Jobs replied. Jobs often used the analogy of a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers. A great carpenter doesn’t use cheap plywood in the back, even though nobody will see it. The aesthetic must find its way through the entire product.

When I was doing the research for a book on the Apple Store I learned the importance of details in the customer experience. Nothing is taken for granted. The stone tiles in the store are made in the same Italian quarry. Fingerprints are wiped off the screens. The laptops are tilted at exactly the same angle. Most importantly, the wooden display tables have strategically placed holes so cables and cords are hidden. Several years ago a couple on vacation stumbled into counterfeit Apple stores and notified the company. The giveaway? The stores were messy and the products disheveled. Details matter.

Kick Start Your Brain

The secret to creativity, according to Jobs, “comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing.” Oracle CEO Larry Ellison called Steve Jobs the “Picasso” of our time. He meant that, like the great artist, Jobs studied different methods of doing things and applied those outside methods to the work at hand.

Creativity also extended to the people Jobs hired. “Part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that quote. In the November 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review, the publication featured a paper covering “years of studying innovation.” The researchers arrived at this conclusion: “There’s great power in bringing people together who work in fields that are different from one another.” The researchers could have saved themselves years of study if they had simply gone back to Jobs’ advice on how to build creative teams.

Create Insanely Great Customer Experiences

IF  were taking a tour of a Tesla store in San Jose, California, u turn to the head of retail at the time, George Blankenship, and said, “George, this reminds me of an Apple Store.”

Blankenship leaned in, lowered his voice and said, “Carmine. It is an Apple Store. We just sell cars instead of computers.”

Blankenship should know. He worked side by side with Steve Jobs to help open the first 150 Apple Stores. Tesla is just one of many companies that have copied much of the Apple Store customer experience. Microsoft, Disney, AT&T Retail, and BMW are just a few of the many companies which have copied more than a few elements from the Apple Store. As early as 2001 Jobs realized that if retailers enriched lives instead of “selling stuff” and “moving boxes,” shoppers would reward those companies with their loyalty. The fact that the Apple Store generates more sales per square foot than any other luxury retailer in America proves that Jobs was on to something.

Master The Message

Steve Jobs delivered awe-inspiring presentations well before Powerpoint or Apple Keynote (the software Steve used) were even invented. In the 1984 launch of the first Macintosh, Jobs didn’t need slides to build the drama. Through the expert use of storytelling he painted a picture of a villain [IBM] “bent on world domination” of the PC industry. Once he sufficiently triggered the audience’s anger, he introduced the hero—the Macintosh. In his trademark fashion Jobs built the drama, leaving the computer hidden in a black canvas bag on a table in the middle of the stage. With a magician’s flourish, he pulled the computer out of the bag, inserted a floppy disk and walked away while the audience watched images appear on screen, a far cry from the standard commands on “microcomputers” at the time.

Today many business professionals are adopting the Steve Jobs style of presentation design: minimalistic, image-rich, clean, engaging, and entertaining.

Sell Dreams, Not Products

“Some people think they [Mac buyers] are crazy, but in that craziness we see genius,” Steve Jobs said in a public presentation in 1997. Your audiences don’t care about your product as much as you do. They care about themselves, their goals and dreams. Show people how your product will help them unleash their full potential and you’ll have a customer for life.

Steve Jobs’ life and the history of Apple reminds us that it doesn’t matter where we start—a spare bedroom, a garage, a cubicle, an office. What matters is that we follow our hearts and success will follow. That’s the Apple way.

Carmine is a keynote speaker and author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Apple Experience. His new book is The Storyteller’s Secret

 

 

 

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