Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Does Steve Jobs Think I’m a Bozo?

July 28, 2008

I just finished the book Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney.  It’s a bit of a fluff job that dismisses a lot of the long held criticisms of Apple CEO Steve Jobs as intentional and strategic ploys, but the point of the book isn’t to psychoanalyze him but to understand his thinking process and how it affects business.  It’s a terrific read and makes a lot of good points, and of course Jobs is one of the great leaders and success stories who has transformed society.  It’s worth checking out.

At the end of each chapter Kahney sums up the strategy of Jobs as a take away for any leader or business person.  It got me thinking about the average guy.  In the chapter titled Elitism he describes efforts to find the best and brightest for Apple.  Of course, this isn’t a new strategy invented by Jobs but he’s done a particularly good job (so to speak) and it’s greatly impacted Apple.  However two particular items stuck out.

First, one of his biggest moves was in 1983 when he brought in John Scully to run Apple alongside Jobs.  At the time Scully was the president of PepsiCo and he had engineered the campaign that unseated Coke as number one for the first time ever.  He was 30 when he was named Vice President at Pepsi and 38 when he was named President.  Yes, he attended very prestigious schools and yes he had some great connections.  But, what kind of guy can go from graduating college to VP at a company like Pepsi in five or six years?  Certainly not the average guy!  That’s someone who is exceptional.

The other point was one of Jobs strategic points: Partner only with A players and fire the bozos.  When you read something like that you tend to think of yourself as the hirer and firer.  I’m only going to hire the best!  Or you might think of yourself as the A player.  In reality most of us are the bozos.  Would it have been fantastic to be a part of the early days of Apple?  Absolutely!  Would I have been able to cut it?  I have my doubts.

I am in the middle of leaving my current job and a part of it is that I was the bozo.  That’s really not a fair representation; I wasn’t really a bozo, just perceived as one.  The circumstances weren’t my fault and my response was very appropriate.  But, if I were really an A player would I be in a position that anyone wants me to leave.  No.

The question I am wrestling with is not how do I become Steve Jobs or John Scully.  Ain’t gonna happen.  I just don’t have the tools.  But, can I move from being a bozo to an A player?  That’s the question.