Steve Jobs was one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time. He revolutionized how the world operates and communicates, becoming one of the wealthiest people in America. He was also a principled, driven man who practiced what he preached.
In 1987 Jobs hired a consultant to teach Apple employees how to say no. According to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, the consultant initially didn’t understand why he was supposed to focus employees on the “no list.” But soon came around.
He saw that Jobs was saying no to bad products and projects too quickly and putting Apple on the right path. Former Apple executive Terry Oyama said, “He was the only one who could make those really hard decisions about cancelling things that were way past their due date.”
But who has that ability? Not most of us. We think we do, especially when we are right out of school or when we have just moved up a few rungs on the company ladder or when we feel overwhelmed with the amount of work we think we have to do. We convince ourselves that we just need to buckle down, put our noses to the grindstone, outwork everyone else and get things done.
Steve Jobs’s success with Apple stemmed from his ability to commit to a single vision and pursue it relentlessly. There is so much to learn about the power of saying “No”. Apple is a company worth over $2 Trillion USD and will soon be worth over $3 Trillion USD. It is on the foundations created by Steve Jobs that Apple became such a behemoth that changed the course of human history.
We must be courageous and decisive in order to have any chance at success. Focus is not just about mere willpower, it’s about courage and vision.
I’ll close with a video that is almost old as myself. It is from the 1997 Worldwide Developer Conference. Steve Jobs face a very tough question. He is well-known for his ability to handle difficult questions in public. His trademark response was short and to the point. Now the response has become a legend.