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Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs

The master of the digital universe not only disrupted how we see and use technology, he changed the way we think about business strategy.

If you asked people to name an individual they associate with “innovation,” a good number would probably mention Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder who fundamentally changed the way people communicate, work and play through products like the iPhone and iPod. Carmine Gallo, author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success, has identified the seven principles that guided Jobs to being, arguably, the greatest innovator of our time:

Key Takeaways
  • Inspiring leaders have great passion for their topic.

  • Never underestimate the power of a bold vision to move a brand forward.

  • Innovation requires positive buzz – tell your story early & often.

1: “Do What You Love.”

Jobs followed his heart his whole life. “I have come to the conclusion all inspiration leaders have an abundance of passion for their topic,” Gallo says. “You can’t inspire unless you are inspired yourself. What made Jobs so charismatic was he had a passion and was not afraid to express it. Most businesspeople express facts – not passion. Jobs would say things like ‘the intersection of technology and the liberal arts makes my heart sing.’ He wore his passion on his sleeve.”

2: “Put a Dent in the Universe.”

Jobs attracted people who shared his vision and helped turn his ideas into world-changing innovations. Although few large companies are as closely associated with their founders as Apple is, Jobs was not a one-man show. He didn’t invent smartphones or tablet computers or computer animation. “He knew what he didn’t know,” Gallo says. “Jobs saw over the horizon and hired people – the best in the business – who were inspired to make the dream a reality.”

Secrets of Steve Jobs

3: “Kick-Start Your Brain.”

Innovation hinges on creativity, and for Jobs, creativity was the act of connecting things. He believed that a broad set of experiences broadens our understanding of the human experience. The team that marketed the original Macintosh was successful because it included musicians, artists, poets and scientists – they brought vastly different, but complementary talents, skills and knowledge to the table.

4: “Sell Dreams, Not Products.”

Jobs never considered himself in the business of selling computers. He believed that Apple made products that unleashed personal creativity. “Never underestimate the power of a bold vision to move a brand forward,” Gallo says. “That vision is intoxicating, and it makes people want to join with you. You need a clear, bold vision that people can get behind.”

“Never underestimate the power of a bold vision to move a brand forward.”
5: “Say No to 1,000 Things.”

Jobs said the ultimate sophistication was simplicity. From the designs of the iPod to the iPhone, to the packaging for products, he always eliminated the unnecessary. “Rip a page from the Steve Jobs innovation playbook,” Gallo says. “In business, set yourself apart from your competition not by what you add but what you remove. In life, set yourself up for success not by how many projects you choose to tackle, but by how many you choose to remove.”

6: “Create Insanely Great Experiences.”

“When Gateway opened their own retail stores, their vision was to move boxes,” Gallo says. “The vision behind the Apple store was to create an enriching experience. They had a commission-less salesforce, because they didn’t want people to sell you something unless it enriched your life.” At the Apple store, customers are greeted as soon as they walked in the door. They can see and touch and play with the products – all groundbreaking ideas in the tech industry. “Whatever business you have, think about how you can create an enriching customer experience from how you answer the phone to how you respond when someone walks into your location,” Gallo says. His new book, The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty, explores this even topic more deeply.

7: “Master the Message.”

Jobs was the world’s preeminent corporate storyteller, turning product launches into an art form. “He knew that excellent design and customer service would only take you so far,” Gallo says. “Innovation requires positive buzz. Tell your story early and often. Make communication a cornerstone of your brand every day.”