Listen now on
#281 Working with Steve Jobs
December 12th, 2022 | E281

What I learned from rereading Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda.


Come see a live show with me and Patrick O'Shaughnessy from Invest Like The Best on October 19th in New York City. 

Get your tickets here


This episode is brought to you by: Tiny: Tiny is the easiest way to sell your business. Quick and straightforward exits for Founders.

Follow one of my favorite podcasts Invest Like The Best  

[2:01] We're going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because perfection is not attainable. But we are going to relentlessly chase it because, in the process, we will catch excellence.

[2:01] I'm not remotely interested in being just good.

[3:00] Gentlemen, this is the most important play we have. It's the play we must make go. It's the play that we will make go. It's the play that we will run again, and again, and again.

[4:00] In any complex effort, communicating a well-articulated vision for what you're trying to do is the starting point for figuring out how to do it.

[4:00] A significant part of attaining excellence in any field is closing the gap between the accidental and intentional, to achieve not just a something, or even an everything, but a specific and well-chosen thing.

[6:00] Every day at Apple was like going to school, a design-focused, high-tech, product-creation university.

[8:00] A story about Steve’s clarity of thought.

[9:00] Although Steve's opinions and moods could be hard to anticipate, he was utterly predictable when it came to his passion for products. He wanted Apple products to be great.

[11:00] The decisiveness of Steve Jobs.

[16:00] Steve wasn't merely interested in paying lip service to this goal. He demanded action. Steve found the time to attend a demo review so he could see it. His involvement kept the progress and momentum going.

[17:00] Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Hack away the unessential.

[17:00] People do not care about your product as much as you do. You have to make it simple and easy to use right from the start.

[18:00] Steve Jobs believed that stripping away nonessential features made products easier for people to learn from the start and easier to use over time.

[19:00] Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success by Ken Segall

[22:00] Don’t rest on your laurels. Steve said: “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what's next.”

[24:00] The sooner we started making creative decisions the more time there was to refine and improve those decisions. (The sooner you start the more time you will have to get it right.)

[26:00] The simple transaction of buying a song, and of handing over a credit card number to Apple in order to so, became part of what Steve had begun calling “the Apple experience." As a great marketer, Steve understood that every interaction a customer had with Apple could increase or decrease his or her respect for the company. As he put it, a corporation "could accumulate or withdraw credits" from its reputation, which is why he worked so hard to ensure that every single interaction a customer might have with Apple-from using a Mac to calling customer support to buying a single from the iTunes store and then getting billed for it-was excellent. —— Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli (Founders #265)

[29:00] Studying great work from the past provides the means of comparison and contrast and lets us tap into the collective creativity of previous generations. The past is a source of the timeless and enduring.

[29:00] Design is how it works. —Steve Jobs

[31:00] Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham (Founders #275, 276, 277)

[34:00] Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products by Leander Kahney. (Founders #178)

[37:00] Our clarity of purpose kept us on track.

[38:00] Concentrating keenly on what to do helped us block out what not to do.

[40:00] Steve Jobs on the importance of working at the intersection of liberal arts and technology:

“The reason that Apple is able to create products like the iPad is because we've always tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, to be able to get the best of both, to make extremely advanced products from a technology point of view, but also have them be intuitive, easy to use, fun to use, so that they really fit the users. The users don't have to come to them, they come to the user.”

[42:00] Steve Jobs provided his single-minded focus on making great products, and his vision motivated me.

I use Readwise to organize and remember everything I read. You can try Readwise for 60 days for free

I have listened to every episode released and look forward to every episode that comes out. The only criticism I would have is that after each podcast I usually want to buy the book because I am interested so my poor wallet suffers. ” — Gareth

Be like Gareth. Buy a book: All the books featured on Founders Podcast