Tag Archives: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, and the latest from Steven Covey – for the January, 2012 First Friday Book Synopsis

We will launch the 2012 First Friday Book Synopsis with the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs, my selection for January.  I am well into the biography, and it is, as all good biographies are, a terrific look into the life and times of Steve Jobs.  Where did he come from?  It is impossible to understand just what he accomplished, and especially how he accomplished it, without understanding where he came from.  I am, to put it simply, gripped by this story.

Karl will present his synopsis of the new Steven Covey book, The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems.  Covey is best known for his The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

If you are in the DFW area, please join us for our January 6 First Friday book Synopsis.  You will be able to register from the home page of this web site soon.







Here is a flier with all the details:

Click for full image

Kirsten Dunst With the Presentation Tip of the Day – Prepare!

I haven’t yet seen Melancholia.  I intend to.  It is clearly a provocative film.

Kirsten Dunst, who has been acting since she was 12 (actually, since she was about 3 or 4), has apparently given the performance of her life.  She won the Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her role.  Here’s a paragraph from the article Kirsten Dunst on ‘Melancholia’ and Lars von Trier:  Dunst gives the performance of a lifetime in the bleak new film by Richard Rushfield (from The Daily Beast)

Before arriving on the set—an estate in a remote Danish village where she and the crew would camp out for a month and a half—Dunst took several weeks preparing to confront the morose character she was to play. She trained for Justine like a prizefighter trains for an opponent, studying her every decision from inside out. “I work with somebody, and we do extensive preparations. I went on vacation and she came with me. We spent day after day on it. It feels like I’m going to therapy. Sometimes we deal with imagery. Sometimes I work with my dreams as well. What it does for me is it really creates an inner life for the character that I really understand and that I know better than anyone else. My script pages are covered with notes. I created an emotional bible for myself. It gives me confidence when I go to the set. I refer to it before I do every scene. And then when you film out of order, it makes my performance make sense.”

Notice this especially:  “My script pages are covered with notes. I created an emotional bible for myself. It gives me confidence when I go to the set. I refer to it before I do every scene. And then when you film out of order, it makes my performance make sense.”

In other words, she prepares thoroughly, and then refers to her written preparation note reminders before every “scene,” every part of her “presentation.”

We really should have learned this by now.  In the acting arena, the great actors prepare, and prepare some more, and then prepare some more.  Daniel Day Lewis, for just one other example, is beyond legendary with his preparation habits/rituals.

In the field of great presenters, the great ones rehearse, and then rehearse some more, and then rehearse even more.  Steve Jobs, the presenter, was a legendary preparer.

As I have written earlier, all good presentations boil down to this:  have something to say, and then say it very well.  Preparation is key for each of these two parts of a successful presentation.

So, here’s the presentation tip of the day – be thorough in preparation, and then, “refer to your carefully prepared notes” before every “scene” – every “presentation.”

Blah, Blah, Blah & Demand – December Choices for the First Friday Book Synopsis

We had a terrific session yesterday at the November, 2011 First Friday Book Synopsis.  Karl Krayer presented his synopsis of The Shallows, and I presented my synopsis of the new book by Jim Collins, Great by Choice.  It was a valuable session.  Both books were terrific, and I view Great by Choice as an important book for all leaders.

For December, we have selected two books.  The first is Blah Blah Blah:  What To Do When Words Don’t Work by Dan Roam.  Roam is the author of The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, which Karl presented back at the July, 2008 First Friday Book Synopsis.  Though Roam is known for his creative use of simple drawings, it his clear thinking that makes him an especially valuable resource.  You can read the review of this new book by Bob Morris on our blog here, and Bob’s most recent interview with Roam (it’s his send with this author), here.

The other selection is Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It by Adrian Slywotzky and Karl Weber.  I have not yet read much of this book, but Bob Morris speaks highly of it, so I look forward  to diving into it.  The title reminds me of the famous line by Steve Jobs:  “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”  You can read the review of this book by Bob Morris on our blog here.

Speaking of Steve Jobs, I will present the new Walter Isaacson biography, Steve Jobs, at the January, 2012 First Friday Book Synopsis.  I have read the first couple of chapters, and am utterly captivated.  It is selling fairly well:  #1 on practically every list, (overall and nonfiction) and its different versions are #s 1, 2, & 3, (Kindle Edition; Hardcover Edition; Audio edition) on the Amazon Business Best-Seller list at the hour I write this blog post.  I look forward to every presentation I make at the First Friday Book Synopsis, but the Jobs books is one that I am unusually jazzed about.


You will be able to register through our home page for the December First Friday Book Synopsis, hopefully, by the middle of next week (around November 9).

Simple. Keep it simple. Know What to Leave Out – (Insight from Tony Bennett & Steve Jobs)

Everywhere we turn, the message of “simple” screams out at us.  And this weekend, I heard and read that message reinforced time and again.

On Saturday, Scott Simon interviewed Tony Bennett.  Here is a great slice of that interview:

SIMON: Who do you think you can put into a song in your 80s that you couldn’t in your 30s or 40s?
BENNETT: The business of knowing what to leave out. That happens with age. Less is more. And it becomes more of a performance. It tugs the listeners’ heart by knowing that it’s just in the right pocket, right in the right groove.

(Read and/or listen to the full interview, Tony Bennett’s Art of Intimacy, here).

The essence of “simple” is knowing “what to leave out.”

The other source, of course, is the ongoing bombardment of insight about and from Steve Jobs, following his death.  The touching read of the weekend was his sister’s eulogy: A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs by Mona Simpson.  In case you have been living under a rock, the accomplished novelist Mona Simpson is the sister Steve Jobs did not know he had for the first part of his life.  They met when she was 25, and according to the new Walter Isaacson book, they bonded deeply, and immediately.

Her eulogy reveals so much about his love and commitment to “simple.”  Here are a few revealing excerpts:

(Steve) was the opposite of absent-minded.
Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.
I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.
Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit.
But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.
Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.
Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.
Steve’s final words were:

Simple sketches.  Simple designs  Simple words.

We know his work as the triumph of simple design.  You buy a computer from Apple, and the booklet for set-up is all images.  No words.  So simple, even I can do it.

Simple.  Keep it simple.  Know what to leave out.

Steve Jobs Took Things Seriously

Serious:  not joking or trifling; being in earnest


Here’s a simple truth about Steve Jobs.  He took things very seriously.

Every task; every word; every presentation; every-thing.  Though he made his presentations fun, you got the distinct impression that they were very important to him.  He took them seriously.

Where did this come from?  Where did this trait, and this practice, come from?

I have read the first couple of chapters of the new Steve Jobs book by Walter Isaacson.  (I hope to present my synopsis at the January First Friday Book Synopsis).  This paragraph grabbed me.  When he was six or seven years old, he told a girl who lived across the street that he was adopted.

“So, does that mean your real parents didn’t want you?”  “Lightning bolts went off in my head, according to Jobs.  “I remember running into the house, crying.  And my parents said, ‘No, you have to understand.’  They were very serious and looked me straight in the eye.  They said, “We specifically picked you out.’  Both of my parents said that and repeated it slowly for me.  And they put an emphasis on every word in that sentence.”  (emphasis added).

We will spend a lot of time, and read a lot of pages, trying to figure out what made Steve Jobs Steve Jobs.  But there is little doubt as to what he was.  He was a serious, curious, creative one-of-a-kind multi-hit wonder.  I’ve long thought that curious and creative were the critical traits.  I think “serious” might be the trait I had not yet grasped, or seen… It might be the true foundation for all the other traits.  (But, I’ve got a lot more to read…).

Steve Jobs: He Had No Respect For The Status Quo – & It Seems Clear That We All Wish To (Still) Be Mentored By Him

“You can be mentored by someone without ever meeting them.”
Kathy Ireland


I have never learned so much so fast.  Steve Jobs died, and everyone seems to be writing about him, reflecting on his insanely great contributions.  I thought about linking to the best ones – but there are way, way, way too many of the best ones.

We all wish to be more like him.  We all wish he could mentor us.

But he would be a tough mentor.  He would be blunt, direct.  He would cut to the chase.  He would ask something along these lines:  “What are you supposed to be doing?”  Then, if we weren’t doing that really, really well, he would say, “Then why the f___ aren’t you doing that?”

And at the end of the day, we would either hate him, and abandon the mentoring relationship – or we would get a lot, lot better at what we do, and know that he gave us the push to do exactly that.

And it would all start with astonishing clarity about what it is we are supposed to do.

I just wrote that there are way too many great tributes and lessons and stories and quotes to link to.  It really has been a business education, with a blinding avalanche of content, about this one man and his influence.  (And, by the way, after my first few years on a typewriter {remember those} – I have never typed a word on anything but a Mac product in my home or office.  I think I’m on my 7th Mac {now iMac}, and, yes, I have an iPhone and an iPad).  But this tribute seems especially great.  So here is an excerpt from Here’s To The Crazy One by MG Siegler from TechCrunch:

In many ways, it’s perfect that the video below surfaced again just after Jobs’ passing. It’s the original Apple “Think Different” commercial. In it, images of transformative people throughout the 20th century are shown as a narrator toasts to them for changing the world. In the versions that aired on TV, the narrator is Richard Dreyfuss. But in the version below, the narrator is Steve Jobs.

The toast reads as follows:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Perhaps he didn’t know it in 1997 when he recorded this, but that is absolutely Steve Jobs describing himself. He was crazy enough to think he could change the world. And he did.


(In the video:  Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King Jr, Richard Branson, John Lennon, Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Maria Callas, Ted Turner. Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Pablo Picasso)