If he had been British, he would have most likely been known as Sir Steve Jobs or Lord Jobs. Steve Jobs, however, was as American as Apple. This week, millions of loyal fans paid their respects to the charismatic icon and former Apple CEO. Some of the most appropriate tributes compare Jobs to the most impactful American revolutionary thinkers and businessmen that helped shaped the US of A. Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie are just a few characters of another time that Steve Jobs now shares a stage with. Jobs was a truly transformational leader who single handedly made modern times more modern and little bit easier for all. Here are three important lessons that we can take from the actions of a legend.
1. Design for humans without compromising aesthetics.
Time and time again, Apple changed the category it entered by combining style and ease of use. Apple didn’t make the first computer, mp3 player, smartphone, or tablet. Arguably they don’t even make the best versions of these products if you judge them based on superlatives. There will always be something faster, with more features, made with more exotic materials or at better price points. Apple made “dense” products that packed more design, usability and simplicity into every inch than any competitor. This formula created products with a gravitational force that pulls people in, makes them forget how technically brilliant the products are, and helps them focus on how life just got a little better. The form and function ballet is a difficult thing to execute, but Steve Jobs has been a consistent performer.
2. If you want to sell more, don’t make more products, create markets.
The iPod changed music, but without iTunes, Apple would not have been as successful. iPods were fashionable little stores in your pocket. They made buying digital music easier than stealing it, which was a huge accomplishment at the time. The opening of the App Store followed the introduction of the iPhone. Again, Apple created another intuitive marketplace with no competitors in sight. The Mac App Store is the marketplace for their computers and the iCloud will be the storage marketplace for all devices. Each one of these markets are as important as their storefronts, which we all know better as Apple products. Apple not only creates markets, they bring them closer to you.
3. Never forget the importance of good storytelling.
This lesson doesn’t come from Apple. It comes from Pixar, the little computer graphics company that Steve Jobs bought from Lucasfilm for about $10 million dollars in 1986. While at Pixar, Jobs helped shift the direction of the company from one that creates animation that attempt to mimic life to one that uses moving images to tell stories. In the 90’s Pixar teamed up with Disney, who’s been known to tell a good story or two. Since it’s first blockbuster, Toy Story, in 1995, Pixar has made 12 feature films. In 2006, Pixar was sold to Disney for $7.4 billion dollars. Now that’s a story worth telling.
I’m sure there are more lessons we can extract from the life of Steve Jobs. I can think of at least six as I type away on my Macbook Air, but I just checked the time on my iPhone and I have to get going to work now. Thanks for the lessons Mr. Jobs, but more importantly thank you for making life just a tad more enjoyable. The world will miss you.