Archives for posts with tag: Steve Jobs

The quote miners have been working overtime since the passing of Steve Jobs. Just when I thought I’d had my fill, this one went across the bow. Simple and powerful, as with all things Jobs:

“The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

Watch it here:


Sad to hear that the world has lost one of its most important innovators, Steve Jobs. It’s difficult to tally the impacts he had on our lives, but I for one am a bit irked by the comparisons that are being made regarding Jobs and Thomas Edison.

The more I read about Edison and his jealous battles with a true genius, Nikolai Tesla, the more I think Edison was the lesser inventor, and almost certainly the lesser man.

Granted, he is credited with perfecting the incandescent light (and mass producing it), the motion picture camera, the stock ticker, the sound recording phonograph, and Direct Current power distribution.

But DC power was deeply flawed by comparison to Alternating Current – invented by Tesla – who also brought forth the AC induction motor, X Ray tubes, wireless energy transmission, radio, robotics, spark plugs, concepts for electric vehicles, and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

Fortunately for us, Jobs’ genius was recognized during his lifetime, after it appeared all might be lost with Apple Computer in the 1990’s including a personal fave – the Newton, which was reborn a few times and finally ended up the iPad. Jobs’ string of brilliant products and industry changing concepts blew the doors off every other company, and executive, in America.

The best thing about Jobs was to him, technology products – which were beige and boring when dominated by the IBM/Microsoft team – could be remade to be beautiful, pleasurable, and fun. Through it all, Steve Jobs had a Walt Disney quality – creating things that make us happy.

~Christopher Smith

In a rather brilliant Harvard Business Review article “Steve Jobs and the Eureka Myth, Adrian Slywotzky argues that there’s a gap between the founder’s legend of Apple ( “…a small bunch of geniuses that “Think Different”) and the reality of how effin’ hard Apple designers work to make their products.

Here’s the table of Myth vs.  Reality that Slywotzky uses:

eureka jobs.jpg

He says: “Apple would love us to believe it’s all “Eureka.” But Apple produces 10 pixel-perfect prototypes for each feature. They compete — and are winnowed down to three, then one, resulting in a highly evolved winner. Because Apple knows the more you compete inside, the less you’ll have to compete outside.”

I’ve written here about the Founder’s Legends that breathe life into the cultures of Nike, Patagonia, HP and Ann Sloane. I am a big believer in this valuable piece of storytelling.

But is the Founders Legend supposed to be absolutely factual?

Hello? It’s a legend…

But that’s not the point of the Founders Legend. The Legend is inspirational, aspirational, and motivational.

But let’s be clear: your legend won’t make you competitive.

“The glitter you see [as Apple launches its ‘miracle’ products] is not the explanation; look carefully, and the inspiration/perspiration ratio is where it should be. Under Jobs’ leadership, Apple has done 10 times the amount of relevant homework of most companies — internal competitions, supply chain training, endless deal-making, endless recruiting, training, and generating and sustaining employee excitement that you just can’t fake. If others emulated that, all of that, their results would be a lot more like Apple’s. And our economy would start really humming again.”

The lesson here is, build a great legend. But what you say is only a small part of your success. You’ll have to work your ass off to make anyone notice you in the first place.

Yvon Chouinard didn’t like the quality of the climbing hardware he had to use, so he started making his own – which eventually led to one of the most innovative clothing companies in the world, Patagonia. Steve Jobs didn’t like the beige boxes available in personal computing (or BASIC), so he and Steve Wozniak designed their own computers and operating system – and founded the world’s most valuable company, Apple. Bill Bowerman wanted a lighter, more grippy sole for running shoes, and so he poured rubber in his wife’s waffle iron to make the first Blue Ribbon Sports running shoes, which became Nike. Ginger Smith was driving elderly people to their medical appointments (because there wasn’t a service that did this in Nashville until she started one), and noticed that all wheelchairs look the same – so she formed Ann Sloane to design wheelchair covers that could be personalized, as well as handbags for walkers, which make these elderly people happy. Now she’s making them for Veterans, cancer patients and wheelchair athletes, too.

The Founder’s Legend can be one of the most powerful assets you have to differentiate yourself and your company from the rest. The Legend shows your knowledge of an industry or product, your insight into what could make it better, and your drive to share that knowledge with the world.

In my humble opinion, ALL businesses need a Founders Legend. What’s yours?


~ Christopher Smith