I did a bunch of reading this past week. It came during a flight to the “left coast” of our great country. Even with the sights, sounds and smells of a full airplane for three-plus hours, I was remarkably focused on an essay written by Walter Isaacson in which he spends time rounding off the perceived rough edges of Steve Jobs’ personality.
I’ll give you my highlights of the 14-point analysis as to why Steve Jobs was so successful. He was an enigma. He was a pragmatist and a dreamer. A left-brain engineer and a right-brain artist filled with imagination and creativity. He was a long-term, strategic thinker and a dogged, detail-oriented perfectionist who bordered on being obsessive-compulsive. If you define a company’s brand as the collective make-up of all of the emotions attached to customers’ experiences, then Mr. Jobs’ formula is spot on.
Speaking of enigmatic – he found that e-mail and texting limited communication. What a surprise. The guy who made the letter “i” society’s favorite believed that the spontaneity and creativity born of a face-to-face interaction was essential to a successful business. I couldn’t agree more. Formal agendas are limiting. Slide shows are laborious. And talking points actually limit talking. You sense that his free-wheeling meeting style led to great energy and passion for the issues at hand.
Jobs called it “the bozo explosion,” a phenomenon that occurs when politeness allows for mediocre people to feel comfortable sticking around. WOW! I love this guy. Say what you mean. If an idea is no good, leaders should speak up and say so. Leaders should be honest and forget the pomp and circumstance. The people in the room are more than likely the boss’ confidants. So, for God’s sake, say what needs to be said. Really good people don’t need to be babied. The leaders at SLCCU don’t need to be babied.
As you might imagine, I’m digging this guy. I’m reminded of my coach in Pee-Wee football. My playing days were prior to every kid getting a trophy for participating. If you won, you got rewarded. If you lost, you were a loser. He summed it up for me at eight years old when he reminded me and my fellow 80-lb. warriors that “only a mother loves a loser.” Enough said.
I’ve just scratched the surface on this business icon’s reasons for success. They are many and will be studied in business schools for decades to come. One thing he had that many people may never achieve was an intuition and instinct – a sixth sense. He made products that he and his friends wanted. Think about it! If you’re making something for your best friend, you want it to be exemplary – not cheesy.
We should all aspire to Jobs’ level of success. Some of his methods were far from the textbook variety, but it is hard to argue with success. I hope when people write the book on SLCCU, they will say our leaders were creative, perfectionists, honest, instinctive and focused on what makes our members happy. Yep, that would be a good legacy.