What’s up everybody? This is Charlie from Charisma on Command, and today I’m going to be doing a leadership breakdown of Steve Job. And I say leadership very specifically because unlike a lot of people you might have seen me do on this channel before, Steve Jobs was not the world’s most likable guy. In fact, a lot of the people who worked most closely with him would describe him as very abrasive.
But what he was undeniably a master at was inspiring and leading people. When he came back to Apple to turn that company around, he had employees, customers, investors, all who were doubting what Apple was capable of. Yet he led them to be, literally, the most profitable company in the world at one point in time. So, what I want to do is talk about how he was able to do that, and it starts with a vision. There needs to be someone who is sort of the keeper and reiterator of the vision, because there’s just a ton of work to do, and a lot of times, you know, when you have to walk a thousand miles, and you take the first step, it looks like a long way, and it really helps if there’s someone there saying “Well, we’re one step closer,” you know.
The goal definitely exists. It’s not just a mirage out there. So in a thousand and one little, and sometimes larger ways, the vision needs to be reiterated. I do that a lot. So this, perhaps, the most important role of the leader is to set a clear achievable and persuasive vision, because whether you’re managing a group of small people, or an entire company, that group will tear itself apart as it runs in the direction of individuals. What it needs is a uniting purpose, a uniting vision that is constantly in everybody’s mind so that they are all moving in the same direction to move that company or that group forward. So I want to talk about, now, what exactly the vision that Steve has set forward for Apple was, and why it was so compelling. What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done, although we do that well. We do that better than almost anybody in some cases, but Apple’s about something more than that.
Apple, at the core, its core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. That’s what we believe in. Now, this is the core vision, the core value, whatever, the core passion, whatever you want to call it, that Steve Jobs has set out for his employees, and for the people who bought his products. It’s that people with passion can change the world. And I want to talk about why this vision was seemingly very broad is, actually, incredibly effective. One, it’s very simple; almost any of the marketing messages that you’ve heard from Apple or Steve Jobs boil down to just a few words, certainly one sentence. So, if you think back, there was the iPod campaign that was “1,000 songs in your pocket.” The first time that I saw Steve Jobs talk about what the computer was.
He said it’s like a bicycle for the mind. You need to keep your vision, your core set of values very, very simple, because your employees, the people beneath you, the people who are buying your products, they need to be able to communicate it succinctly to the people around them. Step two and this is seemingly contradictory. This isn’t about, you know, we’re going to be the number one computer maker in the entire world, which is what the mission is for a lot of companies.
This goes beyond being number one. This goes beyond making a lot of money. This goes to a fundamental human need, which is to do something that matters, right? To have work that has a lasting impact that can change the world. If your vision is in inspiring people on an emotional level, if you’re just firing them up with the promise of higher compensation, that vision will fall flat on its head. The last thing is that Steve Jobs didn’t just have this vision in his head.
He was ruthless about living by it. A lot of people, when they talk about company visions, or even their own personal life visions, it’s a flowery set of words that they don’t actually make decisions by. Steve Jobs was ruthless in cutting product lines that he didn’t think would change the world, that he didn’t think Apple could be the best at. He constantly was refocusing his people on this vision of doing something big that was going to change the world, and, honestly, that was their heyday was when they came out with the iPod and the iPad, and even the iMac before that. That focus on the vision is what made it so powerful. That is what inspired the people around him, and if you’ll look at his employees, as what we’ll do in just a second, they picked up the message loud and clear.
I have to say, of all the people I’ve met, there is nobody, clearly, nobody like Steve. When you are next to him and he was talking to you, you could feel the electricity in your body. You could feel his charisma, and it wasn’t it’s because he was a cult leader or anything, you just, actually, could feel it, because I’m not necessarily a cult follower. And, he made you feel he could inspire you. He made you feel like you could do anything. And as long as you believe that, you, really, could do anything, as long as you’re willing to sacrifice everything else. So, really, that’s what Steve Jobs did for the people around him, the people under him that worked for him. He made them feel like they could not only change the world, but that anything was possible if they worked hard enough, and so, they were willing to go to really extreme measures to pull the kind of things off that he asked for were oftentimes were quite frankly, technologically infeasible and ridiculous, and very, very hard to pull off, but they managed to do it because of this belief that it was possible, that passionate people could change the world.
Now, this was not the only thing that Steve Jobs had going for him. In fact, there’s a lot of other stuff, but the second one that I want to touch on, now, is what got people emotionally riled up, and it’s that Steve Jobs spoke in high stakes metaphors. Let’s check it out. Sun is, if you will, are our friend, because they’re going to spend their marketing money to convince people to move into this segment. But the minute they’ve made their choice to move into the segment, whether we’ve convinced them or Sun has convinced them, Sun and NeXt are mortal enemies.
So, there you go, mortal enemies; not something you’d expect someone who talks about computers, microprocessors, and workstations to describe a business battle ads, but that gets people fired up. In other words, if we zoom out the big picture, it would be a shame to have lost the war because we won a few battles. And, I sort of feel like I, and so are the rest of us, are concentrated too much on the smaller battles, that, and we’re not keeping the war in perspective, and the war is called survival. Again, he’s talking about survival, war, smaller battles.
These are all very human, emotionally-driven, archaic-type of things, almost. These go back hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and people have a lot of reference points to think about what war, battle, survival means, all the way throughout history; some people, even, from personal experience. So, when you talk in this sort of terms, and this sort of metaphors, and not just in, “Okay, we’ve got to win or we might lose our jobs.” This gets people emotionally engaged, and that was something that Steve Jobs was able to do to an incredible level with his own employees. Well, Big Blue dominates the entire computer industry, the entire information age. Was George Orwell right? So that’s Steve Jobs talking about IBM, Big Blue, and how they have the majority of market share in the 1980s, and, again, this is not one that I love, but it is incredibly effective–creating an enemy. Throughout Apple’s history, Steve Jobs always had an enemy in mind. At some point, it was Microsoft, it was Big Blue, there.
Other times, it was just conformity, in general. There was the PC guy versus the Mac guys. There’s always an antithesis in the way that he speaks, and having that enemy, again, gets people incredibly fired up. They feel like their survival is on the line. They feel like they need to win a battle, and they worked that much harder; not a tactic that I’m a huge fan of, because I don’t think that the world needs to be perceived in terms of us versus them, all the time, but from Steve Jobs’ perspective, this works, this, absolutely, got people working harder for him. So you start with this very clear, very simple vision that gets people moving in the same direction, something that they’re excited about.
You add to that this jet fuel of emotionally-charged metaphor, and in the case of Steve Jobs, he talked about wars, he talked about survival, and he added this element of this looming enemy that people needed to fight and struggle against. That gets people moving very, very passionately. But that all falls apart if one piece isn’t there, and, fortunately, for Steve Jobs, it’s something that he had in spades, which is conviction. Steve Jobs believed everything that he said to a fault.
He had this vision of the world that he truly felt was going to come true, and when he communicated with people, they sensed how much he believed it, and that certainty made them jump on to his bandwagon. So I wanted to go, now, to John Scully. This is the guy who was asked to be the CEO of Apple when Steve Jobs was working there. He was currently the CEO of Pepsi, and here he is, recounting the story of how Steve Jobs got him to leave his cushy gig at Pepsi. And then, he looked up at me, and just stared at me, with this stare that only Steve Jobs has, and he said, “You want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?” And I just gulped because I knew I would wonder for the rest of my life what I would have missed.
And there you have it. That is what fires people up. Now, I don’t have a ton of time to talk about how to develop conviction, maybe, that’s for a topic for another video. If you’re interested in that, go ahead and let me know in the comments. But there’s one way that conviction comes through very, very clearly, and it’s in the choice of words that we use. Our words betray the way that we feel all the time. And if you’ll look at Steve Jobs, he, oftentimes, didn’t talk in terms of possibilities.
He talked in certainties. He would say, “We are this.” “We will release this computer by this date.” He talked as if things had already happened, which is, actually, a very similar thing to Conor McGregor, if you’ve seen that breakdown. So I just want to show one example when he come back to Apple, how he talked about the company bouncing back, and it wasn’t we will likely do this, you know, we can do this. It is “We will do this.” I really, deeply appreciate all of the commitment that’s in this room and with the people not in this room that is turning this company around.
This company is absolutely gonna turn around. As a matter of fact, I think the question now is not, “Can we turn around Apple?” I think that’s the given for us. I think it’s, “Can we make Apple really great again?” So there you go. This company is absolutely going to turn around. Whatever comment that you do is you pay particular attention to the words that you find yourself using when you’re speaking to people trying to persuade them. Oftentimes, we say exactly what we think, and we show other people exactly how we feel. See if you are speaking with certainty or, actually, if you’re betraying the fact that you’re very uncertain yourself. This isn’t something you can fake. This is communicated in a thousand micro expressions, in your vocal tonality, and in your word choices. So, if you want to have the conviction around something you’re saying, you first need to have confidence. So, I set up a separate video with an exercise. It is designed to give you a scientifically-proven boost of confidence inside of 60 seconds, so that you can speak with the conviction of someone like Steve Jobs.
This is the type of thing that I do before I record a video, before I get on stage, and it can, basically, take you from that feeling of nervous anxiety, not speaking very clearly, tripping over your words, to speaking much more fluidly, much more connected with what you have to say, and communicating to the people around you in a much more effective manner.
As found on Youtube