Steve Jobs Followed 7 Unbreakable Laws of Success That Apply to Any Business
Entrepreneurs should follow the Apple roadmap to set themselves apart.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
When Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, the ABC News program 20/20 asked me to share some of the insights I gleaned from writing three books on Jobs and Apple. The seven rules I offered are still relevant today and helped to propel Apple recently to a $1 trillion market value.
Here are the seven rules again, updated with information I've learned since the original broadcast.
1. Follow your passions.
"Do what you love" is more than a line Steve Jobs delivered in his now famous Stanford commencement speech. In a public appearance alongside Bill Gates, Jobs explained the role passion played in driving his success. "People say you need to have a lot of passion for what you're doing and it's totally true," Jobs said. "The reason is because it's so hard that if you don't have it, any rational person would give up."
Some people say that passion is overrated, but transformative entrepreneurs know they can't be successful without it.
2. Find your noble cause.
I once asked former Apple CEO, John Sculley, whether or not the "sugar water" story was true. It was. In 1983, Jobs was attempting to woo Sculley from PepsiCo to Apple. Sculley met with Jobs one last time to turn down the offer. Jobs paused, turned to Sculley and asked, "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?" Sculley took the job.
Sculley told me that the experience taught him pursue a "noble cause." For Jobs, making computers accessible to the average person wasn't just a business strategy; it was a calling. Jobs pursued that calling with a missionary zeal. Don't just look for business models. Look for noble causes.
3. Simplify everything.
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication," Jobs once said. At Jobs' memorial on the Apple campus shortly after his death, designer Jony Ive explained what Jobs meant. "The way we approach design is by trying to achieve the most with the very least. We are absolutely consumed by trying to develop a solution that is very simple, because as physical beings we understand clarity," Ive said.
Jobs strived to build simplicity into everything, from design to strategy. When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 after being fired twelve years earlier, his first initiative was to slash the number of product offerings by 70 percent. He wanted Apple's engineers to focus on the 30 percent that was left, or what Jobs called "the gems."
You only have so much energy and attention to give to projects or projects. Simplify everything and focus on the gems.
4. Unleash your creativity.
Jobs once said the secret to creativity "comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you're doing." In the past few years, books and research papers have proven that Jobs was right. The world's most creative entrepreneurs look outside of their fields for ideas.
For example, Jobs roamed the kitchen appliance aisles to get ideas for the Apple II, the first real user-friendly computer that looked something you'd actually want in your home. Jobs studied The Ritz-Carlton before opening the first Apple Store. That's why greeters were called "concierge." The Genius Bar, too, was directly inspired by hotel bars.
Creativity doesn't just happen. Expose yourself to ideas outside the field you're working in.
5. Create "insanely great" customer experiences.
One of my books, The Apple Experience, pulls back the curtain on the hugely profitable Apple Store model. I learned that many brands copied the Apple store, including Tesla.
The former head of retail for Tesla, George Blankenship, helped to build the first 100 Apple stores alongside Steve Jobs. In a Tesla store in San Jose, California, I turned to Blankenship and said, "George, this reminds me of an Apple Store." Blankenship leaned in, lowered his voice and said, "Carmine. It is an Apple Store. We just sell cars instead of computers."
The key to the Apple store success is its people. Apple hires for personality. They can teach anyone to sell an iPad; they can't teach friendliness. Blankenship used the same approach at Tesla, hiring people who were passionate about the brand. Hire for personality and culture fit first.
6. Become the Storyteller-in-Chief.
Steve Jobs delivered awe-inspiring presentations before PowerPoint or Keynote was invented. In the 1984 launch of the first Macintosh, Jobs didn't need slides to build the drama. Through the expert use of storytelling he painted a picture of a villain, a struggle and a hero. With a magician's flourish, he even pulled the computer out of a black canvas bag sitting on a table in the middle of a darkened stage. Jobs was a showman who turned product launches into performances.
Don't introduce products; tell a story.
7. Sell dreams, not products.
In a public presentation in 1997 to launch the iconic "Think Different" ad campaign, Jobs said, "Some people think they [Mac buyers] are crazy, but in that craziness we see genius." Your audiences don't care about your product, company or idea. They care about themselves, their hopes and their dreams. Unleash your customer's inner genius and they'll fall in love with you.
Apple is fascinating to write about because its founder was endlessly fascinating. And he still gives us plenty to learn.