Steve Jobs might never launched two of the most valuable companies (Apple and Pixar) if he follows the conventional rules all the time.
Jobs has struggled through many obstacles to get Apple and Pixar off the ground. However, Jobs had a unique way of crafting his own reality, a “distortion field” that could persuade people that his personal beliefs were actually facts, which is how he pushed his companies forward. He also utilised a mixture of manipulative tricks to ascertain his victories.
Many consider Jobs a genius, yet there’s no reason we could all learn a thing or two from his tactics.
In today’s post, we will explore five important points that Steve Jobs has done throughout his career. His life and working ethic is inspirational and every serious entrepreneurs should take note. Here is the first wisdom words from the man himself:
1. “Work hard, and others will respect you. Respect is a crucial first step to getting what you want.”
By 1996, Apple had a serious issue: it was pinning its hopes on a new operating system that wasn’t and wouldn’t even solve Apple’s needs. So it looked for a partner to build a more stable operating system: in the end, it came down to two companies: a company started by Jean-Louis Gassée called ‘Be,’ and NeXT, Jobs’ computer company that was struggling at the time.
When it came time for the two companies to pitch to Apple, Gassée acted too nonchalant, whereas Jobs didn’t hold back. Amelio described Steve’s sales pitch on the NeXT operating system as ‘dazzling. He praised the virtues and strengths as though he were describing a performance of Olivier as Macbeth.’
When Jobs eventually returned to Apple and he was still leading Pixar, he says he worked from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. He suffered from kidney stones. However, he insisted on motivating both companies by consistently showing up and pushing people to make the best products possible, and they respected him for it.
2. “Pitch with passion. People can be influenced by strong displays of emotion.”
Pitching was a key part of Jobs’ repertoire, and it should be part of yours, too. The process of selling — yourself, or a product — is the key to getting others to buy into your ideas.
In a pitch to the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Jobs wanted to show off everything iTunes could do — he was recruiting musicians at the time in hopes of corralling the record labels into going along with the iTunes plan. Marsalis said Jobs talked for two hours. ‘He was a man possessed,’ he said. ‘After a while, I started looking at him and not the computer, because I was so fascinated with his passion.’
He also pitched his marketing gurus with a similar passion, to ‘ensure that almost every ad they produced was infused with his emotion.’
3. “Disarm people with seduction and flattery.”
Whether they’re working for you, or you’re working for them, people continually seek approval for their actions so they respond very well to affection. And if you keep giving it to them, they will eventually crave it from you. From Isaacson’s biography:
‘Jobs could seduce and charm people at will, and he liked to do so. People such as (former Apple CEOs) Amelio and Sculley allowed themselves to believe that because Jobs was charming them, it meant that he liked and respected them. It was an impression that he sometimes fostered by dishing out insincere flattery to those hungry for it. But Jobs could be charming to people he hated just as easily as he could be insulting to people he liked.’
4. “Claim all the good ideas are yours — and if you’re reversing your position, get behind the new idea with full force. Memories of the past can be easily manipulated.”
Jobs wasn’t right all the time, but he was a master at convincing people he was. So how did he do it? He stood firmly in one position, and if your position was actually better than his, he wouldn’t just acknowledge it: He’d adopt your position as his own, which would throw you off balance since he wouldn’t let you know he ever thought differently.
Bud Tribble, a former Mac engineer, had this to say in Jobs’ biography:
‘Just because he tells you something that is awful or great, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll feel that way tomorrow. If you tell him a new idea, he’ll usually tell you that he thinks it’s stupid. But then, if he actually likes it, exactly one week later, he’ll come back to you and propose your idea to you, as if he thought of it.’
An example: When Apple decided to open retail stores for its products, Jobs’ retail SVP Ron Johnson came up with the idea of a ‘Genius Bar,’ which would be staffed ‘with the smartest Mac people.’ At first, Jobs called the idea crazy. ‘You can’t call them geniuses. They’re geeks,’ he said. ‘They don’t have the people skills to deliver on something called the genius bar.’ The next day, Apple’s general counsel was told to trademark the name ‘genius bar.’
5. “Make decisions quickly and definitively. You can change things later.”
Unlike other companies, Apple rarely considered studies, surveys and research when it came time to making new products. It was also rare for a major decision to take months worth of meetings; Jobs tended to get bored easily and was quick to go with his gut.
In the case of the first iMacs, Jobs immediately decided Apple would release the new computers in multiple colours. Jony Ive, Apple’s chief of design, said ‘in most places that decision would have taken months. Steve did it in a half hour.’
On the same computer, Jon Rubinstein tried to argue that the iMac should come with a CD tray; but Jobs detested CD trays and he really wanted a high-end slot drive. On that particular decision, Jobs was wrong — burning music could only be accomplished on CD trays, and as that trend took off, the first round of iMacs were left behind. But since Jobs was able to make quick decisions, the first iMacs shipped on time, and the second-generation desktops included the CD drive that could rip and burn music, which was the necessary peg Apple needed to launch iTunes and the iPod.