Love him or hate him. When he was alive, these were two extreme sentiments that Steve Jobs evoked among people around the world. To consumers who enjoyed the attractively designed products (however outrageously expensive they might be) he was a guru, a genius and a person who could do no wrong. To his competitors he was a tyrant, a bully who did all he could to thwart others.
But there is unanimity in acknowledging the fact that Steve Jobs did bring about one of the most fascinating corporate turnarounds in history. He took charge of a near-bankrupt Apple and turning it into one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world. According to Guy Kawasaski – author, speaker, investor, tech evangelist and Apple alumni – Steve Jobs was the greatest marketer ever.
Much has been said about Steve Jobs in the book by Walter Isaacson. The world has got a rare glimpse into a personality extraordinaire. Listed here is a selection of some critical lessons we can learn from Steve Jobs to make our business a success:
- Don’t rely only on yourself: No one denies that Jobs was a genius. But despite this he was smart to find people he could learn from and make them his mentors. His first tutor was Regis McKenna, the legendary Silicon Valley marketer who Steve wooed for a long time before he accepted being his mentor. Regis was also instrumental in bringing Mike Markkula, an angel investor and marketing guru to Apple. Other leading lights of American business who mentored Steve Jobs were Ross Perot (an American entrepreneur), Andy Grove (the legendary CEO of Intel Corp), Kobun Chino Otogawa (Steve’s spiritual and zen guru) and John Warnock (the co-founder of Adobe Systems). By surrounding himself with leading lights like these, Steve took on the nature and habits and the power of thought of these extremely successful people to propel him forward.
- Your product should be outstanding: Steve Jobs loved to control the product and the marketing. For this purpose he had a maniacal obsession to bring out a product that that was breakthrough in all respects. He always believed in jumping to the next curve and that great wins happen when you go beyond better sameness. As an example, when daisy wheel printer companies were introducing new fonts, Apple introduced a completely revolutionary printer – the laser printer.
- Customers cannot tell you what they need: This flies in the fact of what marketing experts always teach you. Market research was always an oxymoron at Apple. Jobs was of the view that customers can only describe their desires in terms of what they are already using and the change they would want is incremental. Jobs believed in creating a product that he would want to use and this would lead to better products for the consumers. But this did not mean that Apple did not empathize with customers. They did so in a big way and by focusing on a few things they impute their values of simplicity and high quality into everything the company did.
- You can’t go wrong with BIG: A natural showman, Jobs was a fan of BIG – big gestures, big fonts in presentations, big launches and big ads. So much, that in 1984, the year of the Macintosh launch, Jobs hired Ridley Scott, the director of Blade Runner, and spent $900,000 to make the 60 second ad besides spending another $800,000 running that ad during the super bowl. An ad that played upon the much-talked book by George Orwell – 1984. And, the big bet paid off as the ad generated as much coverage as the machine itself. (Click here to see the ad.) Continuing with his experiment with BIG, he spent over $2 million to buy out the ALL the advertising spots in Newsweek, that became the talk of the marketing world for a long time. An articulate story teller, Jobs reveled in his role as Chief Story Teller for Apple and built memorable BIG sized launches around all his campaigns.
- Use pictures, not words: Jobs realized early on that images are much more powerful story tellers than words. Driven by this, and partly by its core value of simplicity, even today, on its website and in its advertising, Apple devotes tremendous energy and effort in saying things in as few words as possible. As Mark Twain once said, “If I had more time, I’d write shorter”. This reflects the true challenge in expressing oneself in fewer words to transmit a powerful message.
But the ultimate lesson of all is probably “Anything is possible through hard work, determination and a sense of vision“ This very vital lesson is one that Jobs followed through to the end. By his own actions and achievements he proved this adage to be very real. He stayed hungry and foolish all his life and he focused always on succeeding. He never feared failure and always rose from his fall to attain greater heights.
For Steve Jobs – a great deal of success came from the fact that he was willing to take more time and work a little harder than the rest.
So, what is stopping you? Surge ahead and become another Jobs !!