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Steve Jobs Birthday

Steve Jobs was born on February 24, 1955 and he would have been 65 years old today. My kids gifted me his biography written by Walter Isaacson last Christmas and it became a great reason for me to start reading it. The life of Steve Jobs as we all know was extraordinary and fascinating. At the same time, he was also another human being who made a lot of mistakes in life. Even for someone like Steve Jobs, he had to persuade Walter Isaacson to write his biography. 

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs

Reading Steve Jobs book gave a lot of insights to the different leaders of Apple (right from the early days). One such leader was Mike Markkula. He was considered a Marketing or distribution genius. He predicted that Apple will be a Fortune 500 company in 2 years and his prediction came true. This book offers great insights to the life of Steve Jobs and also there are a lot of learnings for each one of us.  You should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Goals should be to make a company that you believe in and build a company that will last. 

Some great lessons for all of us: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.Good artists copy. Great artists steal. Steve Jobs had always been shameless about stealing great ideas. New ideas are only part of the equation and execution is the key. If we are going to make things in our life, we might as well make them beautiful. Here are some Jobs quotes. ‘When you have really good people you don’t have to baby them. Expect and get them to do great things’. ‘Microsoft products. Persistence eventually made windows products better and then dominant’. ‘Make the team be a part of a mission’.

PIXAR: PIXAR is another great brand Steve Jobs founded and eventually was acquired by Disney. The movie part of Jobs story was very interesting and is a movie by itself. Disney wanted to hire one of the key folks (John Lasseter, Creative Head) at PIXAR and they couldn’t. If you can’t beat them, join them and they decided to partner with PIXAR. Though Disney contributed immensely to the success of the film ‘Toy Story’ (co-worked with Pixar), Jobs ensured that he co-branded the efforts of his team (PIXAR) well. He arranged his own premiere of Toy Story and ensured that he marketed PIXAR well. He did not like the Work for Hire and needed to raise money to have an equal standing with a company like Disney. He took Pixar public.  With this capital he was able to co-invest with Disney. The successful Initial Public Offering (IPO) opening was planned one week after the Toy Story release. The gamble paid off. He is a business guy who knows how to raise money. He had hoped to recoup his investment of $50m back. However on a successful IPO, he retained 80% of the company and his shares valued at $1.2 Billion. PIXAR was able to produce 10 Blockbusters in a row. It’s fun to do the impossible – Walt Disney’s quote and Jobs liked doing just that.

NEXT: Jobs had started Next , a company that was eventually acquired by Apple. Ross Perot was one of the investors in Next. We see Amazon Kindle and digital books today. Back in the days, Next did just that- They had a digital dictionary.  It’s about taking what has already been done and making it better and this is a great lesson to be learnt. Jobs once said, ‘What I am good at is finding a group of talented people and making things with them’. ‘People are creative animals. They will figure out new ways to use the tool that the Inventor never imagined’ He always believed that Less competent people cannot be in senior positions.

Jobs is a human being: Walter Isaacson details the personal story of Jobs well with no biases. Steve Jobs had numerous relationships and he was candid and honest about them. In Spite of being a disturbed child, he always had a quest for his roots. Walter details well on how Steve Jobs met his wife. Steve shared a great relationship with his biological sister Mona Simpson. Though Steve Jobs had troubled times, he had an innate ability to stay focussed and be hugely successful and lived a very humble life. 

Other Interesting Notes: Bill Clinton , the then President of the United States of America had called Steve Jobs for advice during the Monica Lewinsky episode. Bill Gates, the Founder of Microsoft visited Steve Jobs house. These are things you wouldn’t normally hear about. Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple during the Boston MacWorld when Jobs was brought back as the CEO. Jobs had regular conversations with Silicon Valley greats like Andy Grove. His dad was proud to see him onstage with Andy Grove. Larry Ellison, Founder of Oracle  and Steve Jobs were great friends. He enjoyed long walks and they were also business meetings. During is early days, Steve Jobs had free Sunday dinners at the Hare Krishna temple (which a lot of us do). Jobs showed the world that even people over 40 could be innovators. Jobs flourished after 40. It’s great to see the number of things he accomplished in the last decade and half of his life after 40. 

More: Steve Jobs used to have Monday morning executive meetings. People judge a book by its cover. Design is everything. Jony Ive was the Design head at Apple.  Less is always more. Simple is better. He was always curious and also believed that the right kind of office and buildings can do wonders to the culture of a company. Steve Jobs paid attention to detail. (Apple Staircases in their stores). Deciding what not to do is equally important. Jobs was about great products and hit them with terrific marketing. Having cash reserves is very important for a company (PIXAR had $183m). Jobs had a difficult last few years.  He would not agree to operate on his cancer and waited for 9 months. He took bold moves even after surgery. He wanted to disrupt the textbook industry. He felt that, It was absurd that american teachers are still on a board and using textbooks. He believed the 21st century will be Intersection of biology and technology. 

This is an honest biography on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Though he was a visionary in many ways, Steve Jobs was a regular guy like all of us. People who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.  Steve Jobs did just that.