Thursday, October 6, 2011

Business lessons I learned from Steve Jobs

{JS steps to the table, clicks the wireless white mouse once, lightly.  The bright screen of the iMac comes alive in a second, ready to serve.}

I am no expert on Jobs.  I am no rabid Apple fan.  I don't own an iPad.

But if you have lived in the business world at all these past decades, it is difficult not to have been influenced by the man.  At conference after conference, meeting after meeting, poll the audience on any question related to innovation, quality, marketing, design, product development ... much of anything really, and it was a fair bet that the name Apple would turn up in the top 5.  So what business lessons have I learned from the man in the black turtleneck?  Here is a quick list:

  1. It's about the customer.  Customers care about their stuff, not your stuff.  So forget how your product works, and give them what they are looking for.
  2. Less is more.  No clutter.  No pop ups.  No wires.  Enough said.
  3. "Design is not just what it looks and feels like.  Design is how it works."  It is so easy to change something superficial and feel like we have enhanced customer experience.  Opening up the hood and changing all the wiring underneath?  That is the real deal.
  4. 'Excellence' is a big word.  Strive for it.  Set the bar for yourself really high.
  5. Everyone likes drama.  Remember the little flick of Jobs' finger in Macworld 2007?  It flipped the page on the iPhone in his hand.  'Oooooh' went the audience collectively.  And the smartphone industry was never the same again.
  6. "You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give it to them."  A customer might tell you the next big innovation idea in your business in a focus group, but don't bet on it.
  7. Profits matter.  Just because you are selling a product people line up for doesn't automatically mean you will make money.  Price it where it will make you a profit.
I think it can be said without much exaggeration that Steve Jobs made a difference to people's lives in a way that few people in business do.  Tip of the hat.

{... and with that, JS clicks the little apple icon on the top left of the iMac, hits 'Sleep'.  The screen goes dark.  Simple as that.}


  1. Great summary..and it is time you own an iPad :)

    If I can add, another lesson from Jobs is "Never Get Complacent" - the Stanford speech sums it up

    "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

  2. Nice list. I am looking forward to his biography coming out soon. It was such a sad day. Reminded me of Michael Jackson dying. Never thought I'd say that about a businessman.


  3. 3 Apples that changed the way of life and the entire world..!!
    1. Apple in the story of Adam & Eve
    2. Apple that fell on the head of Isaac Newton
    3. Apple of Steve Jobs