Tag Archives: Steve Jobs

Required Reading on Business Owners Making Critical Mistakes

For a good time take a look at the answers to this question on Quora: What are some classic examples of a founder letting his or her ego get in the way of making the right decision for a company? 

owner mistakes business mistakes

Now yes, that’s one stellar example of a loaded question. But — loaded or not — it’s attracted some very interesting answers. It makes for good business reading, for sure.  

One particularly-well-written answer (this one) narrates a painful story of a successful pivot turned to failure by a stubborn founder insisting on doing things the old way 

We tried this before … We failed. Miserably. … our sales staff, followed by myself, along with the other partner all advised against the move … Then, all of the sudden, two months later, he made some executive vote to change everything overnight.  … Our revenue streams dropped immediately. 
I stressed for months on end, … but he didn’t listen. 
He just made the move, and everyone eventually lost their jobs. 

That’s a small piece of a long answer, and I’ve clipped it significantly. It makes a good story and good reading. That answer goes on with some other examples too, which makes me wonder. Maybe its biased and just sour grapes. 

Another interesting quote from another answer:

The thing with egos is they cause a distortion of reality which means they’re either too fragile to accept the truth (self-esteem) or they’re so starved for attention that their bullying gets in the way of real progress (narcissism). … Jobs was so broken inside and so desperate for recognition that he worked his staff mercilessly hard and caused rifts between the Macintosh and Apple II (I think) teams. His narcissism caused him to bully and press on others. He damaged morale in the company and hurt sales.  

Maybe these are twisted answers from people bitter about things having gone wrong. Maybe they are exaggerated. But regardless of historical accuracy, every business owner should read through these. And I write that as a business owner.  

My Niece’s Question About God

What a week. Steve Jobs, may he rest in peace. On Wednesday we distributed my stepmother’s ashes. That same day my brother’s wife buried her father.

After our ceremony in Cape Cod, my brother said his daughter had asked: “why does God make people get old and die?”

Nobody there could answer that question. Several people, however, came up with variations on a common theme: that’s why it’s important that we live well. We should not waste time. Or love. Or spirit.

This morning I’m off to Yosemite with my youngest daughter.

Is Marketing Dead?

I’m troubled. Some of the smartest, most successful people I know say marketing is dead. It doesn’t matter, they say. It’s a waste of time. Instead…

… just build great product. Disrupt a big market. The buzz will follow.

And it makes some sense. Did Facebook care about marketing, or product? What about Twitter? Amazon.com? You could say their product was their marketing.

Which, however, is something like saying higher education is useless because Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of college.

No doubt marketing is all mixed up and turned inside out these days. It’s still a strong force in big businesses with multi-million-dollar advertising budgets, but there’s this new world in which thought, content, effort and authenticity make up for money. You don’t necessarily buy attention in this new world – you can earn it instead.

But a lot of the core concepts — like understanding your target markets, and developing your main messages, and pricing as message, and managing channels – are as important as ever.

Because there are the brilliant exceptions to the rule, and then there’s the rule.

(image: igoncepts/istockphoto.com)

Not the Customer’s Job to Know What They Want

There was a nice short video on TechCrunch the other day, quoting Mark Zuckerberg, John Doerr, and two other industry leaders on how much the iPad has changed “everything.” I picked it up because of what John Doerr says near the end.

The video snippet I’ve embedded here skips directly to my favorite part, at 2:45, very near the end, as John Doerr talks about Steve Jobs saying what market research has done for the iPad. Jobs says:

It’s not the consumers’ job to figure out what they want.

I like that. As we turn increasingly to polling and research for answers, the problem is that people don’t often say what they really think, and quite often don’t even know what they really want. One kind of leadership, to me, is leading people instead of asking people. You take a guess. When you guess right, you win big. Guess wrong, you lose.  Is it possible that this is also called entrepreneurship? What do you think?