What I Learned from Steve Jobs

I finally finished Walter Isaacson’s 650 page biography of Steve Jobs. There is a lot I liked about the book – most of Jobs’ business principles mirror my own beliefs in how I want to lead my company, especially his entrepreneurial spirit and brilliant vision of the future. Imagine having the confidence to make what people would buy without ever asking them. Like many geniuses in their field, he had a unique personality – a man who could be cruel, belligerent, controlling, aloof, introspective, intense, weird, passionate, driven and stubborn. In my view Jobs’ mistreatment of the hard-working people who delivered his vision was completely unnecessary given his incredible talent in the critical areas that define success. There’s not a better quote to exemplify that standpoint than this one from the Atlantic Magazine.*

“Apple’s founder and CEO could be a cruel and nasty guy. He was also the greatest chief executive of our time. Don’t go thinking those two things are related”

In the Houweling’s world, focus is a very important asset. Sticking with that notion, here is my take-away from the book:

1. Life is a balance. Sadly, Steve Jobs failed on this one, miserably.

2. Focus on Success and never stray from what you believe in. He never gave up.

3. Vision is Paramount to Success. He set a compelling vision for himself and everyone else within Apple.

4. Negotiation Skills are Invaluable. He got what he wanted thanks to shrewd negotiating.

5. There is more to Life than the Destination. He enjoyed the journey but failed those who travelled with him.

6. Simplifying Complexity is an Art. Steve Jobs was in a class by himself.

Near the end of his life he found his peace. “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” I’m glad he said that, but it is a shame it took him so long to realize that.

With my regards,

* Complete Atlantic Magazine article can be found at http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/11/be-a-jerk-the-worst-business-lesson-from-the-steve-jobs-biography/249136/



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