Fri, April 13 2012

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Nonprofit leadership •

Walter Isaacson, who wrote the Steve Jobs biography, has a fascinating piece in the Harvard Business Review called “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs.”  He notes many people have tried to draw management lessons from Jobs and his personality, but that the real lessons are to be drawn from what Jobs accomplished.

He points to a variety of factors, which I’ve listed below.  My favorite for folks like us was something Jobs said he once read in the Whole Earth Catalog: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

According to Isaacson, Jobs was the product of both the Bay area hippie counterculture and the high-tech/hacker culture of Silicon Valley.  He notes, “Jobs stayed hungry and foolish throughout his career by making sure that the business and engineering aspect of his personality was always complemented by a hippie nonconformist side.”  Isaacson cited the Apple advertising copy for the Think Different campaign, which Jobs wrote, as an apt description of the man himself: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.”

We have to be people who make things happen - like engineers - and at the same time, people who think big and think different.  His legacy is to remind us that good causes require both qualities - and maybe a bit of bent reality (see below).  It’s the only way to create what Jobs would probably call a dent in the universe.

Here are the other factors for your reflection.  Read the whole article for the details - it is well worth your time.

*Jobs’ focus
*His driving commitment to simplify
*His end-to-end responsibility of the entire Apple ecosystem
*His leapfrog approach to innovation
*Putting products before profits
*Designing for what he intuitively felt people wanted rather than what they might state in focus groups
*Bending reality - insisting the impossible was possible
*Imputing: caring about packaging and presentation as much as the product
*Pushing for perfection
*Tolerating only “A” players
*Engaging face to face
*Knowing both the big picture and details
*Combining the humanities and the sciences

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