Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius

leadingappleLeading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius

by Jay Elliot

I happend to find this book while surfing through my Safari Online account.  This is a great perspective from someone who worked alongside Steve Jobs and experienced his leadership style and philosophy.

There are several great Quotes from Steve Jobs in this book and Jay uses some of the best as chapter leads:

  • I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “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. [Chapter 1]
  • Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me. [Chapter 2]
  • A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have. [Chapter 3]
  • A small team of A-players can run circles around a giant team of B- and C-players. [Chapter 4]
  • It’s building an environment that makes people feel they are surrounded by equally talented people and their work is bigger than they are. The feeling that the work will have tremendous influence and is part of a strong, clear vision. [Chapter 6]
  • We used to dream about this stuff. Now we get to build it. It’s pretty great. [Chapter 7]
  • Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. The iMac is not just the color or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element plays together. [Chapter 8]
  • My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to take the great people we have and to push them and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions of how it could be. . . . My job is to make the whole executive team good enough to be successors, so that’s what I try to do. [Chapter 9]
  • You can’t talk about profit; you have to talk about emotional experiences. [Chapter 10]
  • I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. [Chapter 11]
  • We don’t know where it will lead. We just know there’s something much bigger than any of us here. [Chapter 13]
  • It’s not just a job, it’s a journey. Let’s never forget that. . . . Your customers dream of a happier and better life. Don’t move products. Instead, enrich lives. [Chapter 14]

Lessons I picked up from this Book:

1. Think Different

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes . . . because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. -Apple Ad

It’s important not to settle into a stagnant mechanical state.  Be the one to change things.  Create constructive discomfort and challenge the status quo.  When starting on work for the Mac, Steve wanted to create a team of “Pirates, not the Navy”.  In Chapter 4, Jay says:

You want people who dare to be different! You want Pirates—where the skull and crossbones may not be part of the company’s symbol, but they’re Pirates nonetheless. People who take risks, live at times a little on the edge, flaunt rules when justified, laugh loudly as the wind lashes their face and their pursuers fade from view into the distance behind. I always want to work with people like this, and so should you. 

Whether you think of them as nonconformists, dissenters, rebels, pirates, nutters, positive deviants, or as Blair’s crazies, make sure your team has a solid sprinkling of them. They will challenge your thinking, fuel your ideas, pump up your momentum, boost your competitive edge, and quite simply make your business a winner. And make sure you yourself provide a dose of this magic on occasion. You’re unlikely to accomplish anything great in your career without it.


One of the things that happens in organizations as well as with people is that they settle into ways of looking at the world and become satisfied with things. And the world changes and keeps evolving and new potential arises but these people who are settled in don’t see it. – Steve Jobs

2. Stay Focused on the Product

Product, not Profit or Process:  Businesses usual start out focused on product, their great idea to change the world.  The tendency is slip from product to profit and process focus.  Steve and others like him (Walt Disney included) spent all their energy thinking about making something great, not making a great profit.  As we have seen, those that keep that product perspective often end up with healthy profits as well.

Design with the customer in mind:  Steve drove product design by keeping the end user in mind, not just surface usage, but emotional connection as well.

You can’t talk about profit; you have to talk about emotional experiences. – Steve Jobs

Design for excellence.  Design to create an emotional experience, not just utility.  No more crap products.

In chapter 7, Jay says:

The reason for the outpouring of emotion around the world at the time of Steve’s death was that his products had touched people emotionally. Money and profits were never the motivators for Steve. His motivation was, “I’m going to build a product for myself, a product that will fill a need and at the same time give me pleasure to use.

It’s not just a job, it’s a journey. Let’s never forget that. . . . Your customers dream of a happier and better life. Don’t move products. Instead, enrich lives. – Steve Jobs

steve jobs