I Am Not Steve Jobs and Steve Would Have Wanted It That Way

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I Am Not Steve Jobs and Steve Would Have Wanted It That Way

 

The following is a guest post by Brian Halligan.  A friend, my co-founder at HubSpot and a fellow Jobs fanboy.  

Ok, I admit it, I'm a Steve Jobs fanboy.  I use virtually all of his products, I've read every book there is about him, and I probably never would have founded my company had it not been for his inspiration.

As our company's defacto first product manager, I did what any new product manager probably does, I gobbled up virtually everything I could on how Steve Jobs builds products at Apple.  I read how Steve obsessed about every detail, his brilliant aesthetic, his occassional mercurial management style, etc.  After reading so much about him, I started copying everything I could.  After all, how hard could it be?  ...Well, it turns out its a lot harder than it looks! steve jobs ipad

 

If I watched every minute of basketball Michael Jordan played, read all of his biographies, listened to his interviews, and practiced his moves non-stop, I'd become an adequate basketball player, but I'd be missing the genetic code that makes him a great basketball player.  For starters, no matter how much I practiced and learned, I was never going to be 6 feet 6 inches tall.  It turns out the same is true for Steve Jobs.  No matter how much I read and practiced, I was not going to develop his design aesthetic and was not going to develop his attention to detail. 

As you read all the content that comes out today on Steve, my advice would be to take in the inspriration and emulate what you can, but also be true to yourself.  You have your own super powers -- don't completely forget those and try to be someone else. 

Or, in Steve own word's from his Stanford commcencement address:

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life."

 

Posted by Brian Halligan on Thu, Oct 06, 2011

COMMENTS

Brian - 
 
Love the post and I disagree slightly with one small detail. Great design is not inherited, it's learned. 
 
Michael Jordan and basketball have a natural limitation in the physicality of the work being done, so yes, you have to be genetically inclined with height to be a great basketball player (or at least have the minimum viable height to play basketball - probably around 6' 2").  
 
Attention to detail, an eye for aesthetics, and an ability to design amazing products are all skills that can be learned and are not baked into your genetic code. No one is born with an eye for design and ability to build great user experiences. No one is born with the ability to public speak smoothly. They are all learned skills developed through experience.  
 
You get good at designing products and user experiences by paying attention to what you hate about crappy products. You also get good a designing usable products by actually building them from the ground up. 
 
I think the other key trait of Steve Job's ability to build great stuff is the fact he has so much design experience, and then used that experience to recruit like minded designers. If you don't have experience designing great things, how can you effectively evaluate whether someone else can design amazing things? That is why Apple's culture will continue to design amazing products even without Steve. 
 
I think if you had the ability to sit down and try for 5 years straight to build amazing user experiences, you'd surprise yourself with how adept you'd become.  
 
Unfortunately, most start founders don't have the luxury to solely focus on product nor have had the early life experiences that Steve Jobs had, so it's impossible to be him (like you said!). My point is that you could become amazing at designing with some work, and it's not baked into "genetic code", and is more baked into personality.

posted on Thursday, October 06, 2011 at 9:56 AM by Andy Cook


Don't like the title of the article either.

posted on Thursday, October 06, 2011 at 10:00 AM by Rd


Brian, 
 
Great post. iCon & the Second Coming of Steve Jobs (a memorable gift from a Salesforce.com manager) were amazing reads but the link you added regarding Steve Job's Stanford speech is an education for the ages, and I certainly look forward to his biography that is slated to come out in a few weeks.  
 
The takeaway for me is, sure there is sadness as it is weird knowing Steve Jobs is no longer with us - but he is with us. He left us a platform, a company, a set of kick ass products which are fostering more creativity, the ideal of striving to offer your best. Look to Apple and Steve Jobs for inspiration or whatever it is you seek but do not rest all your laurels on it. No matter how big or small the impact in your way - be yourself! 
 
@JaretManuel

posted on Thursday, October 06, 2011 at 10:18 AM by Jaret Manuel


I don't most people don't realize the magnitude of what the quote really means. RIP Steve Jobs.

posted on Thursday, October 06, 2011 at 1:15 PM by James F.


"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life." This is what I personally think. Whether one does amazing things because his/her genes helps in doing that or someone toils hard and does that, it does not matter. Amazing things cannot be done by imitating some one. We do draw inspiration from great minds, but the rest has to come from within.

posted on Thursday, October 06, 2011 at 1:24 PM by Rahul


RSS feed request to Before It's News  
Dear Dharmesh Shah at OnStartups, 
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posted on Thursday, October 06, 2011 at 2:52 PM by Jordan Chasteen


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I think the other key trait of Steve Job's ability to build great stuff is the fact he has so much design experience, and then used that experience to recruit like minded designers.

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