Guy Kawasaki’s “10 Things I Learned from Steve Jobs”

If you get a chance to see Guy Kawasaki speak, take advantage of it.  I got my first opportunity at this year’s INBOUND14 opening keynote.  His talk was on the 10 lessons he learned from Steve Jobs, a topic he discussed previously in a TED Talk (see video below).  Here are the takeaways from his talk.

1. Experts are clueless

Kawasaki showed several quotes from folks throughout history who were experts in their given fields, but missed the boat.  For example, Ken Olsen, the founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) said in 1977, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”  Ken may have been an expert in the computing industry, but he completely missed the desktop computer revolution.

The so-called experts are guessing just like the rest of us. Don’t be afraid to go with your gut and ignore “expert” advice.

2. Customers cannot tell you what they need

Feedback from customers can help you improve and grow a product.  What it won’t do is help you make the leap to the next great product.   If you can find a better way to solve a problem, don’t be afraid to build it and show customers why you have the solution.

3. Jump to the next curve

Incremental improvements can be good, but don’t be afraid to think BIG.  Typewriter companies were looking for ways to make a better typewriter when the digital revolution hit them right in the face.  Don’t be afraid to make the jump and be a revolutionary.

4. Challenge big

People rise to the challenge.  If you set the bar low, people will meet it.  If you set it high, people will meet it.  Set big challenges and force people to think creatively to solve them.

5. Design counts

Kawasaki used pictures of the sleek Macbook and Macbook Air, as well as the iPhone and original iPad to demonstrate the importance of design.  There’s no question design was paramount in Apple’s success, but this is actually one point where I don’t completely agree with Kawasaki or Jobs.

Design does count, but in the context of usability.  Does the design make it easy to use to solve my problem?  Some classic examples of this are eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist.  None of them offer a sleek and stylish design, but they all make it easy to accomplish a goal.  While design may help a customer who is on the fence make a decision, if the product isn’t user-friendly, pretty logos and colors won’t help.

6. Use big graphics and big fonts

Don’t be wordy!  Make your point and make it loud.

7. Change your mind

The original iPhone did not allow third-party applications.  One year later, the iOS development platform was announced.  It’s OK to be wrong as long as you correct it and change your mind.  Contrary to popular belief, changing your mind is a sign of intelligence.

8. Value does not equal price

Value is based on how much you help clients save, increase, reduce or improve.  Value should always be more than the price you pay for a product or service.  Delight your customers and your perceived value will always be higher than the competition and therefore warrant a higher price.

9. A players hire A+ players

The best leaders will hire people that are better than they are in at least some areas and help complement their weaknesses.  The leaders that build teams this way go on to build world-class organizations.  They are the people you read about – like Steve Jobs.

Contrast that with B players who hire C players.  C players than hire D players and so on and so forth.  Nothing great ever came from hiring down.

10. Marketing equals unique value

Flashy commercials and fun jingles are not what sells a product.  A product sells based on it’s unique value to a customer.

BONUS: Some things need to be believed to be seen

Innovation usually begins with vision.  Believing in your vision is the first step into making it a reality.