Tag Archives: steve-jobs

Steve Jobs’ View on the Web and Creativity (1996)

In 1996, while he was still the CEO of NeXT, Steve Jobs was interviewed by Wired writer Gary Wolf. The result was a sometimes quaint, occasionally prophetic and often pessimistic exchange.

In this far-reaching (and somewhat lengthy) discussion with Steve Jobs, the two discuss the forthcoming ubiquity of “the web dial tone”, how technology doesn’t change the world and this on the true meaning of design and creativity:

Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. 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.

via @tcarmody

On Hiring Talent (Not Just Programmers)

You could hire through open source like GitHub (“we hire ‘The Girl or Guy Who Wrote X,’ where X is an awesome project we all use or admire”) or use a check-list to recognise competency (passion, self-teaching, a love of learning, intelligence, hidden experience and knowledge of a variety of technologies) and no doubt find some fine programmers.

You could also take a similar approach to hiring marketers, writers, designers and those in many other industries, too. While this may guarantee competence, it does not guarantee success (business and/or interpersonal).

Combine the above with the approach Steve Jobs takes to interviewing (via Ben Casnocha) and you may be on to something (emphasis mine):

When I hire somebody really senior, competence is the ante. They have to be really smart. But the real issue for me is, Are they going to fall in love with Apple? Because if they fall in love with Apple, everything else will take care of itself. They’ll want to do what’s best for Apple, not what’s best for them, what’s best for Steve, or anybody else. […]

How do I feel about this person? What are they like when they’re challenged? Why are they here? I ask everybody that: ‘Why are you here?’ The answers themselves are not what you’re looking for. It’s the meta-data.

Take heed of how Aaron Swartz hires programmers using three questions (via kottke) and you’re likely to end up with the best candidate. Those three questions:

  • Can they get stuff done?
  • Are they smart?
  • Can you work with them?

And to answer those questions:

  • To find out if they can get stuff done, I just ask what they’ve done. If someone can actually get stuff done they should have done so by now.
  • To find out whether someone’s smart, I just have a casual conversation with them. […] Under no circumstances do I ask them any standard “interview questions”.
    • First, do they know stuff? Ask them what they’ve been thinking about and probe them about it. Do they seem to understand it in detail? Can they explain it clearly? […] Do they know stuff about the subject that you don’t?
    • Second, are they curious? Do they reciprocate by asking questions about you? Are they genuinely interested or just being polite? Do they ask follow-up questions about what you’re saying? Do their questions make you think?
    • Third, do they learn? At some point in the conversation, you’ll probably be explaining something to them. Do they actually understand it or do they just nod and smile?
  • I figure out whether I can work with someone just by hanging out with them for a bit. […] The point is just to see whether they get on your nerves.

Apple, Disney and Pixar: It’s the Products

Written in early 2006 shortly after Disney’s acquisition of Pixar in a $7.4 billion all-stock deal, BusinessWeek looks at the relationship between the Disney and Apple CEOs and where their relationship may lead.

Prescient in that it accurately predicted the Apple TV and the iPhone, the article also briefly looks at Jobs and his product-first mindset:

“The great thing about Steve is that he knows that great business comes from great product,” says Peter Schneider, the former chairman of Disney’s studio. “First you have to get the product right, whether it’s the iPod or an animated movie.” […]

Time and again since, Apple has eschewed calls to boost market share by making lower-end products or expanding into adjacent markets where the company wouldn’t be the leader. “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do,” Jobs often says. […] “Quality is more important than quantity, and in the end, it’s a better financial decision anyway.”

via @venturehacks

Steve Jobs and Circular Visualisations (Not Just Pie Charts)

Pie charts have been having a bad time of it lately* and I can’t see things improving anytime soon.

In one of the better articles looking at this humble chart, Brian Suda notes not only at what you can do instead, but what improvements you can make if you’re forced to use the pie chart.

The original idea behind a pie chart is that it represents parts of a whole, each sliver or wedge is a section, when totaled gives you the overall picture. Over the years pie charts have morphed purely into eye-candy, exemplified by their sister graph the doughnut chart, which offers zero additional information.

If we look at a few examples, you will quickly see the failings in the circular design along with how easy it can be used to misrepresent data.

One such example of how a pie chart can be used to misrepresent data was Steve Jobs’ keynote at Macworld 2008–as discussed in Suda’s article and over at The Guardian.

* Seth Godin called pie charts “spectacularly overrated” and Seed said we need to “get past the pie chart”.

Presentation Masterclass

LifeHack has just started what I hope will become an informative and useful series entitled Presentation Masterclass, courtesy of Rowan Manahan.

Audiences are so deluged with advertising messages and radio jingles, with phone calls, voicemail, email, SMS and IM, with… stuff in their personal lives that unless you, the presenter, are wowing them with every word, you will lose their attention in a matter of seconds.

I am always striving to improve my public speaking and my presentation style, so this series is a welcome addition. I just hope it continues to be as good as the introductory article.

As a starting point, I recommend some detox to clear your body and mind from a lifetime of exposure to sucky presentations. I strongly recommend that you expose yourself to some great presenters:

  • Check out Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Guy Kawasaki, Steve Jobs, and Dick Hardt on YouTube.
  • Have a look at some of the wizards on TED.com – Rives, Hans Rosling, Barnett Thomas, Lawrence Lessig and Ken Robinson all stand out, but there are reams more on this invaluable resource.
  • Go over to Common Craft and have a look at their ‘plain English’ tutorials on aspects of Web 2.0

The one common theme that emerges from this tremendous diversity of presenters, topics and styles is RESPECT. By every word and deed, they demonstrate absolute respect for both their audiences and themselves.