Have you stopped to consider the ways your life has been impacted by Steve Jobs?
I was fascinated by Walter Isaacson’s biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs, and for me, the book read like a novel. I found myself reading far into the night without awareness of time.
I also liked the author’s summary in Harvard Business Review of the leadership lessons from Steve Jobs. The key lessons that seem most relevant for us independent professionals are: Focus; Simplicity; Take responsibility end to end; Put products before profits; Impute; Engage face to face; Know both the big picture and the details. Today I want to write about FOCUS.
Because we are responsible for just about every part of our businesses, one of our most difficult issues is the ability to focus on the most important activities that will yield the most important results for us. Sometimes we might feel overwhelmed by all the “stuff” we have to do.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple after several years away, he saw all the various products Apple was making at the time. Some products competed with each other, and all competed for people’s time and the resources of the company. He called everyone together and drew a simple box on the white board. He headed two columns: “Consumer” and “Pro.” He labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable”. He told everyone that their job was to focus on these four quadrants and make four great products, one for each quadrant. And stop making all other products. This focus ended up saving the company. Deciding what NOT to do was just as vital as deciding what TO do.
What is your own personal version of this? Have you identified your very most valuable and most enjoyable services that you offer? If you could focus on just these, would your live become simpler, more effective? Do you have less profitable or less enjoyable services that you provide just because you always have, or you think you should?
Could your own whiteboard have two simple categories: ”What I love to do most” and ”What is most profitable?” If you start with those two, could you simplify your life? Could you say “NO” to the other things that you don’t love doing and are less profitable?
In future posts, I will explore other insights from Steve Jobs.