12 Lessons Steve Jobs Taught Guy Kawasaki

Summary of on 07-Nov-2011.

1. Experts are clueless. Journalists/analysts/etc. cannot help you as entrepreneurs.

2. Customers cannot tell you what you need. (This reminds me of a quote by Henry Ford: if we had asked customers what they wanted, they would have said “faster horses”). Customers can give feedback as to how something should evolve, but you can’t ask them how to create a revolution. Focus groups will always tell you: better, faster, cheaper status quo – which is useless information.

3. Biggest challenges beget the best work.

4. Design counts. In a world where everyone is talking about price, lots of people care about design. This goes against what most experts in economics will say when they talk about price points, supply-demand curves, and so on. Maybe only 10% of the people care about design, but those are the people you are aiming for. “It is a lot easier to enchant people with great stuff than with crap”.

5. In your presentations: big graphics, big font. Steve Jobs puts up slides that have one word.

6. Jump curves, not better sameness. So, don’t aim for 10% better, do it 10 times better. So, if you make daisy wheel printers, it’s no good trying to add extra fonts to your daisy wheel – that’s just an incremental – a more revolutionary step would be to go from daisy wheel printers to laser printers.

7. “Work” or “doesn’t work” is all that matters. In other words, don’t worship religions or fads. To be more specific, Apple wasn’t worried about whether the open source or closed source model was “better”, what he cared about was whether something worked, or it didn’t. Jobs was prepared to reverse his decisions.

8. “Value” is different from “price”. Jobs was constantly being told things like “iPad is too expensive”, “iPhone is too expensive”, and so on. It’s very difficult to compete on price. You want to be both valuable and unique. If you’re elsewhere in the quadrant, you’re going to have problems. Kawasaki gives some examples. If you’re unique but not valuable, then you’re just plain stupid – you’ve created a product that nobody cares about. If you’re valuable but not unique, then you will be forced to compete on price. If you’re not unique and you’re not valuable, then you’re in the worst position imaginable.

9. “A” players hire “A” players. But “B” players hire “C” players. Those “C” players hire “D” players. And so on. He calls this the “bozo explosion”. Kawasaki says that he could actually improve on what Jobs said: “A” players hire “A+” players”. You get an attitude from engineers that engineering is hard, but financing is easy; and this is dangerous. In the end, engineering isn’t easy, financing isn’t easy, sales isn’t easy, and so one. When asked who hires B players, Guy thought about it and said: “boards of directors (and VCs)”

10. Real CEOs can demo. They can use the product. Steve Jobs proved that. Kawasaki said that it will be Tim cook’s biggest challenges.

11. Real entrepreneurs ship. Not slip. He says “don’t worry about being crappy” – revolution is hard, and first versions can be poor. Kawasaki says “don’t worry that it’s a piece of crap, just so long as it’s a revolutionary piece of crap”. The point is: you’ll get better! If you wait for perfection, you will never ship. A point that needs to be said: don’t ship because it’s crap, but ship something that has jumped curves but has elements of crappiness to it. Big difference!

12. Some things need to be believed to be seen. You have to believe in your product, you have to ship your product, and then people will see it. If you don’t believe it, then it will never happen.


He said that good things can come from humble beginnings. The best place to start is “wouldn’t it be cool if …”. Solve small problems, and hope that many people have that problem.

VCs (Venture Capitalists) always like to say that they “knew” a business was going to work, and that they had a “proven” team, a “proven” business model in a “proven” market. Kawasaki dismisses this. He says, “OK, but if you knew it was going to be successful, what about the other 19 investments that you made, how comes they failed?” Their responses are likely to be “well, I told my partners not to do that”, “it wasn’t me”.

About mcturra2000

Computer programmer living in Scotland.
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3 Responses to 12 Lessons Steve Jobs Taught Guy Kawasaki

  1. Pingback: Weekend reading: The best investing books to buy for Christmas presents

  2. Just watched that.

    It was brilliant. Great find.

  3. Pingback: 6 month checkup | mcturra2000

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