Can you name someone who didn't drop out of Harvard to become one of the world's most famous and successful people in the last 100 years?
The answer is Steve Jobs.
It's easy to see how someone could become obsessed with someone like Steve Jobs. He's charismatic, intelligent, innovative, and yes, perhaps even a bit arrogant about his products and his company. Why shouldn't he be? Apple has inspired a generation of consumers to listen to, communicate with, read about and explore the world with simple but functional devices that "just work."
I had the pleasure of interviewing former Senior Vice President and Steve Jobs' unofficial mentor, Jay Elliot, the day after Steve announced his resignation as Apple CEO. Jay Elliott is also the author of The Steve Jobs Way, a book about Steve Jobs the man, the manager, the CEO and the pirate. Yes, pirate.
Steve Jobs' highest praise to anyone is to call him a pirate. A pirate is someone who has the outlaw, freethinking spirit that Steve Jobs recognizes as talent. Pirates can do what the Navy cannot do--step outside the confines of protocol to complete their mission. Steve Jobs expects his people to use their full creative and artistic talents on every project.
The concept works. Obviously. Apple is the most successful company ever--tech or otherwise.
Think for a moment about the pirate mentality. No rules, just goals. No restrictions, just seizing opportunity. No uniforms or salutes, just undying loyalty to a single cause: Success.
"Pirates accept a demand for high standards from their leader. They accept a demand for perfection, and they strive to achieve it." From Chapter 3 - Teaming—"Pirates! Not the Navy"
Steve has a way of finding great talent but if you don't measure up, you're a "bozo." Bright, talented, creative people with three-digit IQs is what Steve looks for in candidates. He wants people who are excited about Apple and its products. I gathered from the book that Steve manages his company as if it were a start-up. He demands that start-up excitement from his employees.
Ten things I learned from Steve Jobs through Jay Elliot:
To be successful, you have to be a pirate, not a bozo.
Surround yourself with the best people.
Demand the very best from your people.
Celebrate your wins.
Quality beats quantity every time.
You have to be passionate.
If you want innovation, you have to cultivate it.
You have to use your own products.
Good will is like money in the bank.
Find someone not like yourself but the opposite of you.
You don't have to be obsessed with Steve Jobs to enjoy the book. But, you might find yourself wanting to be like Steve--obsessed with him or not.
Steve's, and Apple's, success was no accident nor was it luck. Everything right converged to make the magic happen: The timing, the product, the design, the need, the charisma and the piracy.
"When you think about pirates today, we talk about Somalia. Only six guys in a rubber dinghy go out and take over a supertanker. That's what pirates do." --Jay Elliot