After the splash achievement of Apple in producing outstanding products, we have to wonder if the success of Apple is related to Steve Jobs’ leadership and management style or if it is related to something else. There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was a pioneering giant. His perception and his vision were unparalleled. Tim Cook in a recent interview with CNN said that he had never met anyone in his life like Steve Jobs. He continued by saying that Apple is Steve Jobs’ company even when he is not around anymore. The question is “Do we need to be like Steve Jobs to run a very successful company?”
I don’t believe in Steve Jobs’ management style. After reading the Steve Jobs book written by Walter Isaacson, I wondered how people made it working with him. An engineer who was an early contributor to the production of Apple told in his interview with CNN how he lost his wife and kids because of his job. He said that with a lot of sadness in his eyes although his wealth is astounding.
As soon as Jobs was fired from Apple, he liquidated his Apple stocks except one – so he could attend the Apple Shareholders’ meeting. Jobs used the money to build two companies: Pixar and NeXt. Most of Jobs’ effort went to NeXt which was a terrible company. Jobs did not know that Pixar would be very successful until the the outstanding achievement of Toy Story 1. Two producers who worked at Pixar were the real geniuses of developing the movie. As soon as Jobs went back to Apple, NeXt was bought by Apple (after all it was a failing company, populated with excellent software developers). Soon after, nobody heard of NeXt. But the company which was doing very well was Pixar which stayed independent with great success.
These are the lessons I will take from Steve Jobs. The rest I will reject because they will not work.
- Work as hard as you can like Jobs but be mindful of losing too much of your life.
- Always practice the mental exercise of getting out of the box and assume you have all the money in the world to achieve this goal and see if the outcome makes sense.
- You need to educate most people about what they like (Jobs was a master in this) but don’t fool yourself that this will always be true.
- Don’t assume that you know a lot. Jobs paid a heavy price by deciding to treat himself with herbal medicine against the doctors’ recommendations after discovering a cancerous tumor in his pancreas.
- Don’t assume all your projects will succeed (Jobs has Pixar and NeXt). As soon as you discover which one is not working, try very hard to cut the losing project quickly or have a smooth exit to bounce back.
- Don’t be obnoxious to people no matter what. It is OK to disagree respectfully. Jobs was not a happy person to work with–everyone around him was stressed.
- Always look for opportunities around you. Don’t look faraway. You can always find something which nobody saw before.
I am really amazed by Steve Jobs, but I will emulate only those aspects of his personality that work for me.
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