Ep. 95: Guy Kawasaki on what we learned from Steve JobsThere are several life lessons in the way Steve Jobs started Apple, then left, came back, ran the company, launched products, and disrupted several industries. All of us in technology--or indeed in any business--can learn from them.
-- Hi everyone welcome to reporters' roundtable -- weekly show on a single tech talk -- each time well. As we know the great man is gone Steve Jobs the founder and CEO of Apple. Of next. And CEO of -- passed away this week. Obviously this is the -- the week and there's no other topic I could do the roundtable about. But instead of looking back now at Steve's life and and the remembrance. Remembrances of him what I want to do is look forward looking at. His legacy and what it means. For entrepreneur hours and anybody in business today. Of the way Steve started Apple left it came back to it ran it launch new products disrupted several industries. It's literally a life lesson that all of us can learn from good and the bad. And to have a discussion I can think of no better person to have -- with -- Guy Kawasaki. I was an early employee at Apple He worked on marketing the original Macintosh 1984. He's he's the original tech evangelist. Not the original tech evangelist Mike -- was the first one Michael retired US. Anyway thank you for joining us. Let me finish my intro -- He is a tireless and effective promoter of what ever He is working on he's. It's still venture capitalist -- garage -- -- she started and He brings his evangelistic zeal. To his portfolio companies to -- speaking engagements and to the books He writes in -- tenth one just came out is called enchantment the art of changing hearts minds and actions. Thank you guys so much make retirement really appreciate you thank you and almost be -- tough time for you when you work closely with Steve does not did indeed it is a sad time. What. Was -- like working with Steve back in the early days of of the Mac. In the way I describe it as it was like being paid to go to Disneyland every day you just working on the coolest stuff -- the coolest people tried to change the world. Working you know autonomously. And it wasn't a place of micromanagement. And huge purpose changing the world. It was a great time I wish everybody has one X has one experience like it in their lifetime. -- -- -- -- -- -- I wasn't there obviously in. Their listeners -- this podcast -- it is slightly sometimes auto biographical. In 1984 when you word Apple I was at college I was at Reed College. We are -- -- -- gotten a we have and we had a Lisa before that and I I was doing tutoring of inner city kids on how to use computers using release says the model. And then in. 1984 I think it was a bunch of Macs showed up and our terminal work alongside via ADM in the tech terminals that are connected to repeat eleven. -- Max showed up did you have anything to do with -- showing up at my school. -- may not -- probably more that Steve went to reed college for a semester right He did He did He dropped out I I graduated. I shouldn't have because obviously. That's like He was a billionaire -- -- -- organist CNET -- pretty much. Let's that's -- go to the but I know you worked on some of the educational outreach yeah. It was primarily data Lula who did that it was Apple university consortium -- it was really -- cowboy -- me and -- -- just pounding the pavement trying to convince people who. Archivists offer companies that bet their companies. Ottawa platform that was shall I say unproven. With toward documentation and build tools decides that it was easy. Now you roto. You put this thing in your resignation letter I think your first one about. Maintaining the Macintosh spirit and and He wrote a book which is now in you making available for -- for free download called the Macintosh way yes. What is what is that the spirit -- the way of the Macintosh what does that mean. Today. -- -- -- It was a belief that there must be a better way. It was the belief that people care about creativity and productivity. That they cared about design. And it was very very romantic notions. That we could prevent worldwide domination. Totalitarianism. Orwellian. And evolution of society. It really was -- we were automation. And and Harold. Do you think that that mission translates today in -- who's who's doing your best other than. Apple although one could make arguments about Apple being. Putting a big foot down in the industry who's doing it right. Who's doing it right to that level to that degree of wanting to change the world and you know all this kind of romantic notions. Sure nobody who's close -- -- anybody know close at all nobody why not. In their use does a person like Steve Jobs comes along once -- -- every 500 years -- so a lot of it -- it's not that easy. Can you think of a company is truly trying to change the world as opposed to make a lot of money go public and buying houses in Woodside none that I can't that's why I'm asking you or how. And looks and the two of us can't figure out what -- Now I talked to a lot of -- ignores as you and am I I think many are go in with ideals. With the you know college coffee shop ideals and come out with thousand dollar bill stuffed into their pockets and it -- -- -- how how do you survive. Your idea -- survived the money -- the ideals survive the money. How that's a very difficult thing. Because. In -- you start off with this desire to change the world and you end up. With as a publicly traded company having to report in -- results every ninety days. I think Apple did it as much as possible I mean considering in Apple sort of did it all right changed the were loaded made a lot of money it's arguably the -- -- was the -- valuable company in the world for awhile and and maybe still is. That's sort of also missile Steve Jobs that He He made it all work. You'd be lucky to do any one of those like lucky to make money or change the world. Or change the world. Or make money but -- He did it all. Now there are some companies Google comes to mind -- -- -- ever mentioned Google who actually has what I would be entered to. To review revert what I just said. Have a coffee shop ideal of do no evil and you know this is the company again started out of Stanford in this case and that was founded on and -- It was founded on a technology that it was kind of emotionally based or ethically based on an ideal. And as we've seen as the company's gotten -- it's gotten harder and harder for them to maintain it is meant. It's not a tough thing to live up to well I mean we're do you see Google doing evil of -- sees Google doing evil today. That's a different podcast but I'm trust in a nutshell. The company has certainly made mistakes. When it comes to. Privacy and data collection. I mean. -- if not well. I don't see Google as evil at all. I I have a very unusual approach to privacy of my -- is to privacy is. Dole do stupid illegal stuff that you don't have to worry about it and sometimes can be hard as you're going to not used to the legal stuff I just got up -- -- and I guess what -- what we're getting at here just for another minute on this topic is the idea that businesses war. In many people and many. Prominent business people will give you know budding entrepreneur or copy of -- -- and say read this. -- announced -- -- Steve isn't about me. Business is not war because in -- you're not trying to please a certain population you know couldn't. The business of business is to make people really happy. I think Apple makes people really happy I think virgin America makes people -- really happy with -- -- makes people really happy and the notion that businesses war is flawed. Because each your customers do not wake up in the morning thinking hall. They can further York combative -- mean. Nobody except for the morning sync. Gee let's do being traditional shoe retailers. Let's go buy something from -- up close or no let's hurt Microsoft let's go buy a Macintosh today. Or you know let's hurt United Airlines that fly virgin America today -- people wake up and they say. I have to -- -- LA what's the most pleasant way. Or I'd like you know great new kind of you know Manolo shoes or whatever work and -- Adam's apples or. I want the coolest phone. -- -- wake up in -- saying how can I do -- Nokia or how gonna hurt Blackberry. -- just so you know when you read about these epic -- struggles. Ellison. Verses Danny off I mean both -- laughable I mean that's the difference Dee Ellison -- often jobs right. It's a fixed. Different leagues -- and I say so. I do want to talk about more of the lessons of of Steve's okay life the way He He ran his life the -- He ran Apple. Any other lessons that. Big picture ideals He thinks that. A modern -- current entrepreneur or can. Can emulator release try to study to understand to be more effective are some specific question from if there any of the come to mind. Well I I think the most important thing that. Once should realize that the Genesis of most great tech startups. Is not the desire to make money and it's the desire. To move do something cool or neat and I think the the most salient question -- tech start up could ask itself is. Wouldn't it be cool if which is very different than saying. I read a report from Forrester or Jupiter and it says the market for this segment is a hundred billion dollars how can we get. A mere 1% of that conservatively speaking and do a billion dollars a year and each that's not how you start -- -- company. The road to success for Apple and Steve Jobs was not a straight path -- not at all in fact He took that are offering up a one point He got -- from the company He started. Legacy -- what did that adversity do. To him and what -- can a mean there is no entrepreneurial venture is a straight path to success was very York. What -- Steve teach us from how He left Apple and then managed to come back and actually save it. -- -- that's the it very difficult question because it was such a unique situation. -- home -- lessons do you might take from that is the -- if you look at group companies that -- -- great for a long time. It's to follow their you know the founder kept it going the Richard Branson. The Bill Gates the Walt Disney. And -- after it's very difficult Akio Marie -- After that the following generations when you bring in the MBAs in the professional managers and the people who have been trained at consumer packaged goods companies. To run it like a -- -- -- like adult supervision. I think a lot of companies go downhill. And instill that in a Steve Jobs is returned. Is kind of proof -- -- -- -- anybody else could've done that. -- yeah I'd I'd kind of think not but and now that He has left the company and us. Was He effective you think at. Parenting the executive team Tim Cook for solid set -- To carry on with his kind of wide aisles wide eyed child like. Passion for for product. I think He ought assesses the that is -- to be determined in. I don't know Tim Cook. -- their I don't think -- even never met him. You know you can go one of two ways you can believe that Steve has is such a force. That even. When he's not with -- he's with us. And so He has rejected so much DNA -- Apple that there is such a fundamental love of great devices. And Apple that it can continue on -- -- him. And this this past summer. I spent a few days at Disneyland and I love to Disneyland and you know Walt hasn't been there are heating up the park for decades -- so it can be done. So that would be one theory. A the other theory of course is that Steve was signal -- the visionary and no one can replace him -- what can figure out what to do. You -- -- Schiller and Jonathan Ive been Tim Cook are all great people but you. Steve Jobs was the one that need it all work. I don't -- I mean. It won't be obvious quickly because. The product plans for Apple are probably lead -- -- for the next year. So what we won't CU what truly is going to happen until the current product plans are. You know sort of exhausted -- -- they have to figure out what to do next no pun intended without Steve. But that's not gonna happen for a year. And. Let's talk a little bit more and it's very hinged in -- point there and you know we don't know how deep the -- -- on Apple's products we assume obviously there's a lot in in the works there. The talking a little bit more about hiring -- isn't that the most important thing that any leader any entrepreneur or any founder can do and indeed Steve do the just the same as there -- videos that people he'd like some thought were smarter to -- of a special gift for hiring good people. Lot I think He had a theory that eight players hire a players so in other words a good person hires only good people -- -- -- people are -- a -- Claire. And the reason why -- their hard to see player is because of declare. Has these insecurities. And wants to hire people who are not as good as him or her name so that they never get shown up or you know the the person you -- never rises above you. Citing that was Steve's principal hiring practice. Okay now one of the things about. Steve that everybody obviously in the industry noticed was He was a fantastic. Salesman. Yes for -- you can talk -- that his vision his attention to detail. Whatever. He was just a great salesman. Did that come naturally to him and how much of that is important for somebody. Following their vision in a -- well. I think that. He was arguably the greatest. -- do -- products ever. And now there's two there's two. Sides to that coin first of all He was individually. Very talented. A truly understood emotion He understood peace He understood how to of -- people up He understood humor. So that some -- that as is god -- -- okay. But to compliment that you could have all of that stuff but He fewer introducing crap it would still be crap. -- luckily Steve not only had this great personal ability He also had the great ability. To design or have design great products. So when you put the two together a great salesperson with a great product it's unstoppable. And a great person with a piece of crap is still selling a piece a crap. And a great product with someone who can't introduce it. All arguably -- still better than tried to introduce crap soul. -- -- So you don't Tim Cook has some amazingly big shoes to fill if He thinks he's going to introduce a product as well as Steve Jobs. Of arguably you shouldn't even try because you know that -- could you could say that -- setting himself up for failure. But. It as long as the -- that you have great products I would have I would rather have great products with people can't introduce it so well. Then having you know crap products with people who can introduce it well because. If it were after the introduction of the product either stands on its -- legs or not. So how much work -- would He would Steve do before one of those -- keynote because they came office so natural. They spent hours and hours and weeks and weeks and you know He drove product managers knots that product managers knew that their product would have about twenty seconds but they worried for weeks about what would happen -- that twenty seconds and Steve would shred them you know how their product worked and what it looked like how they did things. There was you know wasn't easy work -- -- the. You know you've made it out it should it made it out flights at its. Let's let's talk like the bird about -- -- at a let's talk about one of the hallmarks of jobs is a legacy on technology today which is simplicity and focus. How much. Of of the way the web is today went to all applications other consumer products are today. Is based on. IPod iPhone. OS-X design and and how important is that two in new product designers going forward. Well you -- New product designers and and these sort of ecosystem companies. They have to roll with the punches and the punches are. Whatever is selling a large quantities you designed for that product so if -- -- wasn't selling well you wouldn't care about designing stuff to take advantage of the -- And and -- even better example is of course iPhone was selling well also everybody did an iPhone version but then along comes Android. And Android. If if Android were not selling well. And it it doesn't matter if it comes from Google you know arguably. Equal in power to Apple. That. Apps wouldn't be designed for enjoyed the fact is Android is selling well and -- Developers have to create an Android version of its kind of that -- it comes down to math now at the beginning. It's all about it -- and evangelism because you know at that point. Your attitude. In 1983 in 1984 when we were evangelizing Macintosh. Vote -- -- was you know something's need to be believed to be seen. And if you wait for Macintosh to be able to be seen and -- and that's when you started doing development. -- you'll never see Macintosh because normal -- -- it's as well because Google's software is diesels off Arnold will buy added no one will buy it. That no developers will write software and it becomes a downward spiral and it talked -- -- More about this believed to be seen concept and when -- when you have a vision when you're trying to start a product within a company or start a new company with -- a new vision. How do you get that across because you obviously need to hire people you need to raise money needs to product design unique to believe. What is the key to holding to having a vision and not being -- -- health -- it. Well I think that the world has significantly change in the mid eighties still today and so in the mid eighties basically it was pop -- -- article marketing. And what you had to do was yet to suck up to the eight players and the eight players were the Wall Street Journal New York Times Forbes fortune. In I don't even know wired existed yet -- -- CNET existed yet but it was that you sucked up to these. To the Walt Mossberg of the world -- And you hold it. They blessed your product and they told the great unwashed masses in the Heupel Lloyd you know -- I like Macintosh you should use Macintosh right Stewart Alsop. -- Walt Mossberg. People like that so that. It was it was top down in those days and if we told you they like Lotus 123 and by golly you gloating you buy Lotus 123 and hallelujah Lotus development is successful -- Fast for till today today it's now. -- social media world it is Google plus Twitter and FaceBook and blocks. And this it's like. A market of infinite monkeys intelligent monkeys but infinite number of them and so. The way a product tips today is not because -- told on high to use it it's because remotely -- fifteen loves your product and only boy fifteen tells his fifteen followers until -- fifteen followers and one day you wake up and lo and behold you have a Twitter. And nobody. No no Mike Arrington and Chris Anderson Walt Mossberg David told Stewart Alsop none of them need Twitter. What -- Twitter was that the people the whole employ the great unwashed masses loved Twitter for what it did. And because they loved it so much and so many other people loved it so much then the a list has had to write about it. And still that is the world has reversed and marketing if you ask me it has. One of the things also that we talk about often with Steve Jobs is the the -- -- or model of CEO which is has not been invoked it is -- coming back because of of because He showed it could work. You know I don't speak French what does that mean the artist as as CEO. As I artists here is my vision. Take it or leave it and if you don't like it fine. I mean no CEO would ever say that -- CEO would would introduce no car company CEO would introduce a a new -- may be -- -- was when introducing new car and not focus group tested first and that is what Steve. And arguably. That's light people introduced crap. Because they have done focus groups I think focus groups are fundamentally flawed because she. Focus group is such an unnatural condition that first -- ball. At its self selected its people who say for fifty bucks I'll give you my opinion okay so that already wipes out a lot of people you care about -- an arm and then. There's this this kind of sort of obligation you know I'm being paid fifty bucks so if -- unless I'm a social path. If you gave me fifty bucks for our so I have to say something intelligent so even if I don't care about your product even if it -- and even move much false. I have -- my fifty bucks I have to give you some kind of feedback from and then if a focus group is with people sitting next to each other. There's all kinds of dynamics went out there like in your city -- of cute chick you have to say something intelligent because you wanna you know Dieter after the focus -- -- you wanna say something smart. An Apple focus group is an oxy moron -- Apple focus group Apple's idea of market research. Prior to the passing of Steve Jobs I don't know what -- -- now He was Steve's right hemisphere. Of his -- is connected and communicating with the left hemisphere of his -- that was it. And still am in no way it -- when you start hearing that Apple's conducting a focus group and is looking for people who are you -- Smartphone users to test out Eiffel five. That's the data that Apple is going. To DK and one of the big issues found in big business is this the concept of the innovators dilemma that you've -- these smart people and in the case of Silicon Valley lot of smart people are brought -- to big companies through acquisitions and there -- -- source. The come into a company. And then they can't innovate because the company structure does not allow risk taking -- the same extent or there are not motivated or something like that. You must deal with the concept of innovators dilemma all the time in Silicon Valley how to we'd bring together. Smarts with big company resources or or is it impossible. If it's impossible what is very hard. It really starts at the top. You know where the top the top IE the CEO. Not shifts. Of view innovation is something that He read -- the Harvard Business Review you know September issue that you have to be innovative to survive or they happen to have gone to Clayton -- A lecture or read his latest book. You know there are some seals who whose passion it is for innovation of very few. I let you know I would -- Richard Branson is one of those with a passion for innovation. So it starts at the top it does not start because of some. Program that you know you read about that the -- -- of book and now you're gonna allocate certain amount of budget or you gonna have this internal fund or some -- cute gimmick. It's because it's a corporate value that they care about innovations. And is there are many many lessons that unless you innovate you die not if Apple had not created a Macintosh which -- essentially killed the Apple to -- Apple would not be there today. And it's you know the iPad I think we'll have more impact on society that Macintosh. You could make the case that may be the iPad will some -- kill Macintosh. I don't unlikely because iPad is more for consumption of of -- of content and creation of content so. Apple has that you know I don't they caught about it this way but they have a great machine for creation of content Macintosh -- -- great machine for consumption of of content iPad. So they have the two bases covered very few people can say that -- But. I absolutely agree with clear -- -- in the you know if if if you don't kill yourself by cannibalizing yourself someone else will and it's going to be two guys in a garage -- two gals in a garage. You know one of a funny things here as south Paul -- one of our our writers here said. Entrepreneurs often say -- gonna do air being before. This market or we're gonna be the next Flickr or -- -- we're gonna -- even at the Google for medical data I have yet to hear in my. Ten plus years of covering startups we're going to be the Apple of why is that. That's a very good question. It cannot be modesty. And opens up the realism. I don't even think it's really has them -- that yeah this -- that astounding apps attrition rate I've never heard of. Is it weird though -- that is weird with with Apple being -- shining Silicon Valley beacon that some entrepreneur or would say. We -- going to do a vertically integrated. Some cars airplanes -- can you name it but you never hear that will be the Apple of cars. Come nobody says that. I don't ask good questions are -- -- leave that one as an exercise for the entrepreneur listeners out there. We're gonna run at a time I wanna close with one note from me and then ask -- the same question yes but the biggest lesson for me from how jobs ran Apple. Is this. Never to settle on anything. Good enough is not enough sweat the details until it -- you -- here's -- thing doing this. As not the owner of the company and probably even when you are if you're human being is -- believe globally hard it is still much easier. To get a product from somebody you work with they need somebody who works for you get a design or -- piece of code. And it works well enough and you have you known your minds there's something you would tweak if only you had a moment but. You know there's an -- on the other hand there and -- and a person and they put their blood sweat and tears into it. And for you to say to them. No go back and do it again. Is heartbreaking to do to them and TU. But that is -- jobs this lesson and I have not been able to live up to but that is less and I'm trying to -- to. -- guide for use or anything along those lines that any -- Challenging thing that you learn from working with Steve that has affected the way you do your job. But you adding the caveat that it has to be something that I learned from Steve that I have not been able to fulfill or can I just tell you the greatest let's look. If it's it's -- it's. As you wish but let the ones that have been able to do might be hopeful -- like this one which is impossible. And if there is one that you hope to do before you die let us have that too well. I think that the most important lesson I learned from Steve. Is probably that you know is truly some -- need to be believed to be seen. And I think most people are raised and they are just -- -- situated this concept. Of the opposite which is some things need to be seen to be believed. And is completely counter intuitive that unless you believe something you won't see it you could apply that to religion and and you can apply that Apple sell. I gotta go rates are listening listeners we talk about big lessons. Lessons from Steve I thank you for sharing yours listeners think about what's yours how are you going to take the -- Steve -- Apple and apply to your own work. And your own life that's it it. Maybe there'd be maybe Apple's many industries the world would be a better place go forth and be insanely great guy thank you so much for the time He can you find guys books on Amazon web links in the show notes. Can also find one of his fund -- alt pop a LL TOP lot of fun. Thanks everyone for joining us we'll see all next week and reporters' roundtable.