Steve Got the Jobs Done

Steve Jobs’ Apple/Mac/IPod/Pad/Phone legacy has Paul Bunyaned to such epic proportions it feels as though his name should be All Caps: STEVE JOBS, but he was just the black turtleneck Apple guy, to me. That changed the other day when I picked up an old copy of Newsweek and he was the cover story: “American Genius . . . How He Changed Our World.”

We subscribe to Newsweek. Curtis reads every issue, in order, no matter how long it takes, or how old the issue may be. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were a monthly, but 4 or 5 issues a month stacks up, literally…

No long ago, I noticed him reading an issue featuring Mitt's bid for president and asked him why he reads old news. He noted that knowing the after makes reading the before interesting. He said it’s was especially fascinating to note how perceptions shift & develop. I said, “pass me that issue” and used it as a coaster.

Curtis loves the magazine; I decorate with it. Make that loves the “e-zine” and “decorated” past tense.

The stacks are dwindling. After 79 years in print Newsweek went digital Jan 1, 2013. The last magazine was printed that December, the issue I picked up was Sept 5th, 2011. Translation: we only have about a side-table sized stack left to read. (FYI: Newsweek's back in print, but Curtis prefers the e-zine now.)

Call me fickle, but now that I’m losing them, I’ve started reading and enjoying our back issues (I always did enjoy history more than current events). Likewise with Steve Jobs. Now that he’s dead, I wanted to know why he's such a big deal.

The lead article, “Exit the King” by Alan Deutschman (Sept 5, 2011 Newsweek) gave the blah-blah on this “misfit, raised by adoptive parents,” likening Jobs upbringing to “Harry Potter” and “a wizard among muggles.” By the time I reached the end, I believed it! Jobs was a wiz. A “think outside the box” master. Whose greatest innovation, according to Deutschman, wasn’t Apple, Mac or the IPhone crowds camped out to buy, it was ITunes—not the music, the payments—technically “micropayments”! The technology that enabled “more than 200 million consumers to entrust him with their credit-card information” so they could make tiny purchases at the click of a button was Jobs’ Houdini, his grandest trick. Now you see it, now you don’t —99 cents, 49 cents, $1.99… What a Wiz!

If ever oh ever a wiz Jobs was, an accompanying article, The 10 Commandments of Steve by Leander Kahney, pulled back the curtain to reveal the mechanics behind Jobs’ mastery.

Turns out it wasn’t wizardry or witchcraft, magic or luck. Jobs had a gimmick.

It's a focused 10 item list of what Kahney called his “Commandments.” (I don't know if the list is Jobs, or whether Kahney, or someone else created it.) Regardless, while studying those 10 Commandments, it struck me that Jobs wasn’t so different from any of us. He had a dream, a vision, a goal, as do I, and as do you. The difference is, Jobs achieved his. . .

So what if . . . what if, instead of doing whatever we have or haven’t been doing that has or hasn’t helped us achieve our goals, what if we appropriate the So-successful-he-deserves-All Caps STEVE JOBS 10 Commandments? Steve got the Jobs done!

If we use the same voodoo and do do what he did, we can, too!

Below are The 10 Commandments of Steve with a reminder snippet from the article. With these as guides, I have created a complimentary 10 Commandment List for myself. As you'll read, mine are geared toward improving my writing. These Commandments could similarly be adapted and applied to whatever is your passion: family, work, art. . . You name it, then get after it!

10 Commandments to Getting IT Done:

1.       JobsGo for Perfect: “Jobs sweats the details...”

Mine: Do my best work. Revise, Proofread, Revise again. Details do matter: spelling, punctuation, names, dates, etc.

2.       JobsTap the Experts: “Jobs hired architect I.M. Pei to design the NeXt logo…”

Mine: Don’t try to DYI what you're not good at or don't enjoy; call on others to help, ask advice, hire experts

3.       JobsBe Ruthless: “Jobs is as proud of the products he has killed as of the ones he will release.”

Mine: Apply that critical eye to all efforts. Compared mine to what’s out there. If I can't be objective have others critique it.

4.       Jobs: Shun Focus Groups: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”—acts as a “one-man focus group.”

Mine: Own my own opinion! Trust myself! Don’t wait for others to validate an idea, follow my vision.

5.       Jobs: Never Stop Studying: “When designing early brochures for Apple, Jobs poured over Sony’s.” Inspiration for the 1st Mac case came from studying German & Italian car bodies.

Mine: Study! Read new publications, Schedule "Bookstore Day", take classes, attend workshops and conferences.

6.       Jobs: Simplify: Jobs philosophy is “constant simplification.” He ordered IPod designers to lose all the buttons, including on/off.

Mine: Keep it simple, stupid: Cut word, revise, and don’t get too clever!

7.       Jobs: Keep Your Secrets: At Apple, nobody talks. “The secrecy allowed Jobs to generate frenzied interest for his surprise product demonstrations.”

Mine: Do not show/share/discuss a project until I have a solid draft.

8.       Jobs: Keep Teams Small: The original Mac team was 100 people. If one was hired, someone else left. “Jobs was convinced he could remember the first names of only 100 people.”

Mine: Build a small team of trusted supporters. Don’t spread myself too thin. Say no.

9.       Jobs: Use More Carrot than Stick: Jobs “charisma [was] his most powerful motivator. “Enthusiasm was the primary reason the Mac team worked 90-hour weeks for 3 years.”

Mine: Be positive, show enthusiasm!  If I’m not excited by something, no one else will be either.

10.   Jobs: Prototype to the Extreme: Apple “architects and designers spent a year building a prototype store in a secret warehouse” . . .  Jobs scraped it and started over.

Mine: Create picture book dummies. Print work out & Read Aloud.

What better way to begin a new year than with a new plan. Now Let's follow Steve's lead and get those jobs done! Happy Creating!

Steve Got the Jobs Done Playlist:

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