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Pick up the 5,000 leadership books from the past five years, and my hunch is that you may not hear in those books that Steve Jobs is considered one of the greatest leaders of our times. People spoke often about his difficulties with people, his perfectionism and his distaste for the press. He never finished college, had a few rocky patches in life, but that did not stop him from being one of the most celebrated geniuses of our times.
Now that Steve Jobs is no longer with us, something tells me that he will be in history books as the man who truly changed our world during the 20th and early 21st century. While he may not have been the best people person, there are many different types of leaders, and hands down, Steve Jobs (in my opinion) is the greatest visionary leader of the past 50 years. He did not just change the way we live and work in the United States but changed the lives of billions of people worldwide. In my opinion, someone who changes the entire world during their lifetime is certainly someone who defines true leadership.
When it comes to leadership, being a true visionary is a gift…not many people really have it. To get people to buy into a big, world changing vision is very tough, but not for Jobs. After a series of ups and downs, 10 years ago, Jobs went on a quest to truly change the world when he unveiled the iPod to the world. I remember seeing the tiny, simple, sleek, thin and sexy looking device and thought “It can hold over 10,000 songs? That little thing…no way! Can’t happen and wont. And who in the world will buy it at that price?.” Boy, was I wrong. When I suddenly “got” that the new device could download 10,000 songs from iTunes and watched my kids going crazy downloading songs with white earbuds in their ears, I became a believer and a buyer. I now own an iPod, iTouch, iPhone and an iPad. I still work on a Windows computer, but I want an Apple computer…that will be the next computer I own.
To see the timeline of the innovative process of Steve Jobs, just flip through this slideshow on CNN. Really amazing!
Many people will tell you that Steve Jobs was not the tech guy (although I do take some argument with that statement…you don’t run one of the largest technology based businesses in the world without a great deal of tech knowledge), but instead, he was the man who could see where we are all going in our hyper-connected world and knew how to bring the greatest minds together to get his futuristic ideas to work. He knew the home computer could do more, look and feel a lot more cool and could make life simpler for everyone. He was a music lover and knew that people would love to be able to pull out a tiny device and scroll to their favorite song out of a list of 10,000 and that those songs could then be streamed into your home stereo system. He knew that the iPhone would not just dial numbers…that it would serve as a mini computer that could be a GPS system, could turn on your lights while you were away from home, could be a barcode scanner, would eventually be able to scan credit cards and could help you find the pet of your dreams. And, once the public fell in love with the iPhone, he knew people would want something like the iPhone in a bigger form…in the form of a tablet. The interesting thing is this: Steve Jobs had a way of knowing what we wanted before we knew we wanted it, and once we had our iBooks, iPods, iPhones and iPads, we then wanted the newer version, more apps to be more efficient in life and would probably not be able live without them. And of course, as a result of Steve Jobs’ innovative spirit, his competitors around the world tried to come up with their own ideas (which were actually copycat versions of what Jobs had already built) to compete with the genius. While a few of his competitors have come close, they really have not yet quite hit the mark, and Jobs was always 2 steps ahead of the rest of the world of technology.
I know the world is grieving today, but I want to encourage you all to also celebrate his life and legacy to the world. Steve Job said it all best in his commencement speech to Stanford in 2011:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life,” Jobs said that day.
“No one wants to die,” he added. ”Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. ”
“Your time is limited,” Jobs added. ”So don’t waste it living someone else’s life. … Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.
As we grieve today, let’s all celebrate the life and legacy of Steve Jobs…and look at his words closely…Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.
Image via Wikipedia: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs at the All Things Digital Conference
If you want your customers to “be your brand”, spend some time reading this post about how Apple has created a brand that has been built by raving fans.
In marketing and leadership, we all constantly preach the “You are the brand” sermon.
Something struck me today that maybe this statement may not be an absolute (this hit me today as I was on a run, using my Couch to 10K App for the iPhone and wondering if Steve Jobs owns a PC and if Bill Gates owns a Mac…I have no idea if they do, but something tells me they do…even if just to “check out” the competition a bit). I started wondering…”Maybe the owner and employees are not the brand…maybe the customer is the brand”. I am sure I am not the first or only person who has thought this, because you always hear of “walking billboards for your business” and “brand ambassadors” for your company.
If you take a look at the Apple commercials featuring the PC and the Mac guy, you can certainly see the resemblance in their creators (Gates and Jobs). But, at the end of the day, how many Apple or Windows customers actually KNOW the 2 founders OR people who work for the company? I know I don’t have any close friends that work for either company and according to Linked in, I am 3 levels away from Bill Gates, and I cannot find Steve Jobs on the site.
You see, I was sold on the iPhone without even going into a store. I was sold based on watching Generation Y navigate the sleek yet simple device and once apps started coming out, I was hooked…no going back for me now! And, many of the people using iPhones at the time of my purchase looked a bit like the Apple guy…cool… like they just stepped out of Urban Outfitters. And, once the PC and Apple guy started doing their thing on television, I wanted to be more like the Apple guy…life seemed to be much easier, more hip and more laid back… living out there on the edge of new media. The PC guy looked a bit like his neck tie was choking him or that maybe he needed a tablespoon of Milk of Magnesia. So, at the end of the day, if you follow the 2 brands, you will see how Apple users literally live and breathe the brand.
So…the question is…how do you get customers to “be the brand”?
Here are 9 steps that I believe Apple is using to allow its customers to “be the brand”. These are simply from the standpoint of being a consumer and talking to other Apple consumers.
1. Give your customers something they don’t even know they need it before they buy it. I did not know I wanted or needed 10,000 songs on a mobile device until I had it…I did not know I needed my 10 favorite iPhone apps…now that I have them, I get crazy when I can’t use them!
2. Build mystery around your brand. Steve Jobs makes the announcing of a new product seem like Christmas is coming, and you want to peek inside the box while your parents are away from the house…you can’t wait to see what is inside the boxcovered in foiled wrapping and mounds of green and red ribbon. We all know there is a “next Christmas” coming with Apple…we just can’t wait to see what they will come up with next.
3. Make your brand relevant. As soon as the iPad came out, apps started flying out of every corner and closet to make people crave an iPad, because the apps are relevant today…not yesterday…Just check out the top apps for the iPad on Gizmodo and you will see what I mean.
4. Keep innovating. As of the last week, I feel like my iPhone is suddenly outdated…it is only a year old, but now I want the 4G…Apple is telling me that I can “multi-task the right way” and create HD video with the phone. As a multi-tasker who loves to shoot quick video…you’ve got me!
5. Place people in your retail stores and in the public eye that look like they belong there. If you have ever visited an Apple store, you will notice the folks at the genius bar look like they selected for both their brains and their looks! I have been to the store in Durham, NC multiple times, and these guys are great. They know what they are doing and trust me…they look like they are perfect for Apple!
When it comes to branding, you want your front line folks who are interacting with your customers to drip of your brand. As I look at this photograph, there are just certain people I could never see working behind this counter. I know that this sounds like a “skin deep” judgment, but it is true…when you are building a brand you are going to want people who look like they can eat, sleep and live your brand interacting with your customers. As humans, we are going to connect more quickly with people who “look like us” so that, as customers, we can go out and sell the brand more easily to our friends.
6. Find out what your customers like and don’t like. This is critical, and Apple does this so well…this is why (I think) the Verizon conversation is floating around out there…the Verizon customers want their coverage and they want an iPhone do the work. I just find it ironic that Jobs could not connect to his iPhone during his unveiling of the new iPhone and as the awkward moment was unfolding, fabs in the crowd shouted “VERIZON!” (Awkward but a message sent loud and clear to Jobs, who I know is listening).
7. Dedicate yourself to reinvention. People think that Apple set out to compete with Windows and Bill Gates…maybe…maybe not. Something tells me that Steve Jobs is dedicated to competition but more importantly… to reinventing the entire computer industry. I believe he is leading us all to being able to live with a simple system that we can hold in the palm of our hands. This will certainly allow us to be more mobile (I know I have been much less tied to my laptop since the iPhone came into my life…and I also have to give kudos to Jeff Simpkins for introducing me to Google Apps, as all connects seamlessly to the iPhone…so, I can perform most tasks from my iPhone).
8. Connect with the emotions of your customers. We hear this all of the time, but what does this really mean in tangible steps? Apple has tapped into our emotions by giving us music that takes us back in time, by providing easy tools to make our day less stressful (high marks to the multiple apps for the Where To? app for GPS and to the Get It Done app for time management) and for giving us the ability to video chat and record both voice and video to send to relatives and friends who are far away.
9. Keep it simple and consistent. I can spot an Apple product from a distance. The look is sleep, simple and just look so great…I have to touch it! If your brand is complex, clunky and always changes looks, the public will get confused. So…know who you are and the look you want to present, and you will attract the customers who will “become your brand”.
If you or your team is interested in learning more about convincing your customers to “be the brand”, contact me today for a leadership coaching consultation.
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