Guy Kawasaki, Author “The Art of the Start”, is one of the only people alive to survive working for founder Steve Jobs—twice at Apple – a “come-back kid” !!!
Topics: Radical, Design, Believe, Work or not? Ship, Value vs Price, Challenges, “A” players, Experts? think BiG, Demo.
Guy Kawasaki is well known for his support of innovation & entrepreneurship (ie, many books on Starting & Growing a Business + speaking). Having been an early employee of Apple, then going on to start, advise, & assist a number of successful technology companies. He is the only person to work for founder Steve Jobs twice & “survive”. He acknowledges that working for Steve Jobs was not easy, but also says it was one of the best experiences of his life.
Steve’s Passing. On 6 Oct 11 – a day after Jobs death – Guy was scheduled to give a speech on the topic of ‘enchanting customers’ at Silicon Valley Bank’s CEO Summit. Moved by Jobs’ passing, Guy changed his speech at the last minute to ’12 Lessons I learned from Steve Jobs that can be Applied to Entrepreneurs’. I’ve summarized the lessons below with some of my own comments.
1. Customers often don’t know what they want/need. Steve Jobs famously said: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Sure, Jobs had tremendous resources to pursue that philosophy – which you & I might not have – but the best ideas come from those who identify problems that need solving–before anyone else has done anything about it.
2. Be Radical, not better Sameness. If you truly want to be an entrepreneur & innovator, you have to be radical. “You don’t do things 10% better; you do things 20%, 50%, 100% better”, according to Guy & Steve. Think of how the iPod replaced the Walkman. Or how iPhone replaced Blackberry. And what did we even use before the iPad? Great innovation occurs when entrepreneurs think way out of the box – with radical ideas.
3. Design is #1. In a world where most everyone is talking about price, design still counts. For many people, design is the product. This point was proven to me in a recent study I conducted with a number of my clients in Germany, to determine brand image. They were given a list of companies, and asked to write down the first three words or phrases that came to mind when they saw the company name. When it came to Apple, a number of participants recorded the word “design”. Perhaps not coincidentally, despite having many detractors, Apple consistently scored in the top brands surveyed.
4. Some things need to be Believed to be Seen. Most people believe that “things must be seen to be believed”, but not real entrepreneurs. You have to believe in your product or service; then, get it out there. Only afterwards can you see the results you hoped for. Guy: “If you don’t believe, it’ll never happen. If you wait for proof, it’ll never happen. If you wait for customer validation, it will never happen. The reason why Macintosh was successful is that at the core, 100 people, starting with Steve Jobs, believed in it. And because we believed in Macintosh we made it really happen.”
5. Does it “Work” or “Doesn’t ” is all that matters. In future speeches, Guy changed this point to: Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence. When iPhone first came out, third party apps were not permitted. Security was a major issue, so was quality of experience, etc. In essence, Apple said: ‘We’re doing this for your own good’. Six months later, Apple reversed its position completely and opened up the iPhone for developers. That turned out great for them? Lesson: Be flexible when needed.
6. Gutsy Entrepreneurs “ship” product. When you’ve jumped the curve, the first version of your product or service might not be so great. It’ll be revolutionary, but it will have weaknesses (think iPhone 1 vs. future models or iPad vs iPad Air). Don’t let that hold you back. Because if you do, you’ll be waiting forever to get into the market and the window of opportunity will be gone. As Guy puts it: “I am not saying ship a piece of crap. I’m saying ship something that has jumped curves that may have elements of crappiness to it. Big difference. You can work those out later.”
7. “Value” is different from “Price”. An item may cost more, but what is its “value? What about factors such as ease of use, increasing your functionality, faster & lower cost? How much are these premiums worth to the customer? Companies like Apple devices, BMC Motor Cycles, Mercedes cars, Rolex & Breitling Watches are built on the premise that customers will pay a high price for high quality. So ask yourself: What is the perception of value for my company’s product or service?
8. Biggest Challenges beget the best work. Think about your toughest clients, your pickiest customers. It’s a challenge to work with them. But you can’t deny the fact that solving their problems makes you better. Jobs was passionate for his attention to detail & excellence. This was a huge challenge for those working with him, but it also brought out their best.
Lesson: Challenge your team, and don’t back down from challenges extended to you. You may even be surprised of what you & your Team are capable of.
9. “A” players hire “A” players. Usually, when a company is small, it’s determined to hire only “A” players. But as the company grows, fear & politics set in. Some leaders fear that a new employee will be better at something than they are. They may even show them up or take their job. This fear leads to what Guy refers to as the ‘Bozo Explosion’. The moment you hire a “B” player is the moment the ‘Bozo Explosion’ starts; the B player hires a C player, the C player hires D players, until one day you wake and are surrounded by Bozos.
Lesson: Hire the best. Don’t let your ego get in your way. Hire people who are better than you – especially in areas you’re weak or don’t want to do.
10. Experts can be Useless. Sometimes “A”-listers: analysts, mentors, advisors or gurus can’t always help you as an Entrepreneur. Whether it’s one person’s opinion or many, in the end it’s just that–an opinion. As Guy puts it: “Steve Jobs did not listen to experts. Quite the contrary; experts listened to him.” As an Entrepreneur, you’re gonna have to figure things out for yourself, because only you know the situation. Don’t rely on others.
11. BiG graphics; BiG font. This is the key to pitching. Just do this, and you’ll be better than 90% of the people using PowerPoint. I recently wrote about the problems inherent to Webinars, and one of these is the poor use of PowerPoint slides. Nobody wants a presenter who simply reads long, elaborate slides; yet, we see this time & time again. (Remember the KISS principle: Keep It Short & Simple.) Steve Jobs was well known for his use of BiG graphics & Big font. Following this rule forces you to tighten up your message, explain things simply – with clarity – and engage your audience–all elements of a great presentation.
12. Real CEOs demo. Have you ever sat in on a presentation where the head of the company or project says: Okay, now I’d like my (VP, Design Director, etc.) to demonstrate the product. At this point many begin to think: Why? Can’t you do it? Is it so difficult? Steve Jobs was famous for leading his own demos. It wasn’t always perfect, but he wanted that responsibility to show leadership. You should, too.
Comments: So, what do you think? Which of these lessons do you find most valuable for your business? Did we miss any? Make sure to leave a comment below or share the conversation.
from INC Zine 24 Nov 12 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz