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INFOCHACHKIE: Ten Startup Tips From Steve Jobs

By October 27, 2011August 3rd, 2022No Comments

 A penny for your thoughts……..even after you’re dead? Yes! Some people’s words and advice live on even after they are gone. Steve Jobs is one such person. He did some great things for Apple and we can still learn from him even though he is no longer around. Successful entrepreneur, John Greathouse, resurrected ten startup tips from the man himself, Steve Jobs, and posted them on his blog Infochachkie.

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Ten Startup Tips From Steve Jobs

by: John Greathouse

In the course of my recent interview with Guy Kawasaki, author and former Apple Evangelist, Guy describes Steve Jobs as:

“…the world’s greatest CEO, ever. He did more for Apple’s shareholders, customers and employees than any other CEO has ever done for their shareholders, customers and employees. People should not try to emulate him, because they will be setting themselves up for failure. He is a great example of…building an enchanting company.”

There are numerous reasons for Jobs’ success, not the least of which was his uncompromising pursuit of a delightful customer experience.

An Insightful Steve Jobs Anecdote

I recently met a highly successful photojournalist, by happenstance, at a coffee shop. He overheard me talking about Steve Jobs in conjunction with the entrepreneurship class that I teach at UC Santa Barbara. The photographer (who asked that I not identify him, but was happy for me to share his story) indicated that he knew Steve. He proceeded to tell me several interesting and entertaining stories about Steve (all flattering), dating back to the early-1980’s. I shall refer to the photographer as “Mac” for the remainder of this article.

One of Mac’s stories was particularly compelling. In the summer of 1985, he was in Jobs’ office when a photographer for Fortune magazine arrived to shoot Steve for an upcoming cover. In the mid-1980’s, Mac was a notable photojournalist. At the time the Fortune photographer arrived at Apple’s headquarters, Mac had previously shot a cover photo of Jobs for Newsweek.

Steve told the gentleman from Fortune to take his time scouting a suitable location to take the photo. He implored the photographer to, “not be afraid to strive for an image that was, out of the box.” After about two hours, the photographer returned to Steve’s office announcing that he had found an ideal location for the photo shoot. Unfortunately for the photographer, he did not realize that Steve was not prone to settle for the mundane or unimaginative.

The Fortune photographer placed Steve in front of the Apple logo in the company’s lobby. Steve looked at the logo and then at the photographer and said, <obviously I am paraphrasing Mac’s recollection>, “You must be kidding me. Apple’s CEO standing in front of the Apple logo?! I won’t be part of such a mediocre effort,” at which point he walked away. He did not “storm off,” nor did he shout at the photographer. He simply stated his opinion and went about his busy day.

Once Steve departed, the photographer was visibly shaken. As a fellow photojournalist, Mac had empathy for the man from Fortune. After speaking with Jobs, Steve agreed to give the photographer another chance. The resulting photo, while not particularly imaginative, is at least a departure from the formulaic, CEO standing in the foreground of their company’s logo.

Steve’s Startup Tips

Per the popular press’ narrative, Steve Jobs went from a technology rock star (early 1980’s) to a petulant, spoiled brat (late 1980’s), to a washed-up, has been (early 1990’s) back to a technology rock star (2001 to present). Along the way, Steve shared numerous nuggets of sage advice. I gathered ten such examples which are particularly relevant to entrepreneurs.

1.) Quality Does Not Stop At Your Product’s Faceplate

“We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.

When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

Another of Mac’s stories highlights the degree to which Steve treated his designs as works of art. Jobs gave Mac a Macintosh 128k as a gift. After using it for a number of years, Mac passed the computer on to a friend who could not afford a new one. Years later, Jobs asked Mac if he still had the Macintosh 128k. Mac proudly told him that he had given it to a friend thinking Steve would approve of his act of charity. “That’s too bad,” Steve told him, “because I signed the inside, along with the other members of my development team. The unit I gave you was one of the first Macintoshes ever produced.” <again, paraphrasing>

2.) Grinding It Out Matters

“’I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.’ ”

As Guy Kawasaki noted in this video interview, hard work is his secret weapon. I regularly bring successful entrepreneurs into my UC Santa Barbara classroom. Far and away the most common attributes of these individuals are their stamina and willingness to do whatever it took to succeed.

3.) Love Is All You Need (When Hiring…)

“When I hire somebody really senior, competence is the ante. They have to be really smart. But the real issue for me is, are they going to fall in love with Apple? Because if they fall in love with Apple, everything else will take care of itself.

They’ll want to do what’s best for Apple, not what’s best for them, what’s best for Steve, or anybody else.”

As noted in Self-effacing Entrepreneurs, seek people who will place your startup’s well-being before their own. Make it clear to your team that when your employees make decisions which are good for everyone, they are acting in their own self-interest.

Continue reading the rest of the tips here


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