Must Read, Walter Isaacson Follows Up With Management Lessons of Steve Jobs @HBR

March 24, 2012

Walter Isaacson has a great summary of the management lessons he believes Steve Jobs has provided us “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs” Here are all the main headings. Enjoy.

  • Focus
  • Simplify
  • Take Responsibility End to End
  • When Behind, Leapfrog
  • Put Products Before Profits
  • Don’t Be a Slave To Focus Groups
  • Bend Reality
  • Impute — I still don’t really know what this awkward word means :-(
  • Push for Perfection
  • Tolerate Only “A” Players
  • Engage Face-to-Face
  • Know Both the Big Picture and the Details
  • Combine the Humanities with the Sciences
  • Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Compliments and More

A big “Thank You” to @aschmitt for pointing me to this great article. And at some point I need to post my review of Adam Lashinsky’s “Inside Apple”


Career Planning With pmarca, Seth Godin, & Steve Blank (and Ben Horowitz)

March 22, 2012

I was asked about career advice the other day. As usual it was a very interesting conversation. But it is such a tough decision. I’m never sure if I said the right things. In case I get asked again here are the three best Career Planning writings that I’ve found over the years.

What is not so intuitive is that the person who follows Marc Andreesen’s advice on “how to become a hardcore nerd” is very likely to fit the mold described by Seth Godin and Steve Blank on “HowTo work in a small company or startup”.

The Three Best Career Planning Posts

The first is by Marc Andreesen (pmarca) who wrote a series of posts back in 2009. I’d summarize it as “the path to becoming a hard-core nerd.” In a nutshell I love his advice. It’s pretty much what I ended up trying to do with my life.

Here is the opening paragraph to the series. It is so true …

In real life — as opposed to blogging — one of my least favorite things to do is give career planning advice. Most people who say they want career planning advice aren’t actually looking for advice — they just want validation of the path they have already chosen. Because of that, giving someone career planning advice is one of the surest ways to end up feeling like an a******

Marc’s first rule is awesome

The first rule of career planning: Do not plan your career.
The second rule of career planning: Instead of planning your career, focus on developing skills and pursuing opportunities.

The second is a recent Seth Godin post “How to get a job with a small company” I really liked this because it talks about taking personal initiative and the risks involved. It’s hard to “just do it”, especially when you come from a “do what your told background”.

The third post is from Steve Blank Entrepreneurship is an Art not a Job. Steve does a good job of talking about what life in a startup is like.

Added Sept 6, 2012 — For MBA’s and Aspiring MBA’s

Many MBAs don’t understand how the “entrepreneurial” world thinks of them. Ben Horowitz gets straight to the point Is Now the Time to Hire MBAs? // ben’s blog. Here is the opening paragraph.

Conventional wisdom among smart technology entrepreneurs says not to hire people with Masters in Business Administration (MBAs) into startups. Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint, expressed the sentiment well when he said: “When valuing a startup, add $500k for every engineer, and subtract $250k for every MBA.” My friend Peter Thiel once warned a young entrepreneur: “Never ever hire an MBA; they will ruin your company.” I chimed in myself with this Quora answer. At Andreessen Horowitz, we believe that once everyone thinks that something is true, that might be a good time to do the opposite. So, with everyone convinced that MBAs are useless, I wonder: Is now the time to hire MBAs?

Added Dec 17, 2012 — You Need Plan A, B, and Z by Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman does a nice job explaining that you’re working on plan A, but you need to pay attention because there is likely a superior Plan B that you’ll discover along the way. Also you need a plan Z in case everything falls apart. Look here.

Added April 1, 2013 — Should I Get an MBA? « Steve Blank

Steve Blank: My students ask, “Should I Get an MBA” at least once a month. Here’s what I tell them http://blogs.wsj.com/accelerators/2013/04/01/steve-blank-should-i-get-an-m-b-a/


Stop Solving the Wrong Problems -> Start Making Service Calls

March 21, 2012

The dailygood (not a noted business blog ) has a great article this week titled “From Selling to Serving” via BJ Gallagher.

The topic for this week’s meeting was: “What are you doing to keep your business going in these crazy-making economic times?” …

When it was my turn to speak, I said, “I’ve stopped making sales calls. I make service calls instead.”

This is the basis of most “selling theories”. The problem is that a customer/prospect doesn’t really know what she/he wants until they “see it”. The seller does a “big thing” when he can figure out what the customer really needs and helps the customer “see it”.

:aside: This article got me thinking and I remembered reading Peter Drucker talking about how the Self Development Industry does not work so well. He posited that it’s because we don’t know our own faults. Our process is to misdiagnose our own problems and then apply a solution to that problem. Too bad we didn’t really have that problem.

:hint: Selling problems are almost always a misdiagnosis :-(


On Being “Single-Threaded” — Apple, Jobs, & You

March 20, 2012

It’s interesting how many “single-tasking” writings I’ve come across in the past year. Here are three that will get you FOCUSSED. The most timely is the one on Steve Jobs, the most personally useful is from the Zen Habits blog, and it’s just interesting to find it on HBR.

1) Adam Lashinsky’s “Inside Apple”. On page 162 there is a description of Steve Jobs in Computer-Scientist lingo

“He ( Steve Jobs ) operates in a single threaded manner…”

Further down the page there is the phrase

“Generally speaking, Apple doesn’t multitask”

{ :aside: Thx to @alanchiu for sending me an author autographed copy of this book :-) }

2) Leo Babauta ( Zen Habits Blog ) “Single-Tasking and Productivity” (or here ) This article is very useful. This blog has lots of great lifestyle/workstyle “HowTo” posts.

3) Tony Schwartz’s HBR BlogThe Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time


Read Seth Godin’s Education Manifesto/Rant “Stop Stealing Dreams”

March 19, 2012

I finally finished Seth’s new “freely available” education Manifesto “Stop Stealing Dreams”. I really liked it. It builds on his book Linchpin and leverages a lot of Sir Ken Robinson. If you’ve read these then be prepared for a lot of overlap at the beginning.

The ebook is written in blog style and numbered. Here is a sampling. enjoy :-)

35. Off the hook: Denying opportunities for greatness
Greatness is frightening. With it comes responsibility.

40. What they teach at FIRST ( the Robotics organization). My niece and nephew are really into this. The statistics are amazing. I particularly like “More than twice as likely to volunteer in their communities.”

09. What great teachers have in common is the ability to transfer emotion

61. Is it possible to teach willpower?
After all, willpower is the foundation of every realized dream.

66. Avoiding commitment
A byproduct of industrialization is depersonalization. Because no one is responsible for anything that we can see, because deniability is built into the process, it’s easy and tempting to emotionally check out, to go along to get along.

72. Beyond the Khan Academy

85. Which comes first, passion or competence?

106. The third reason they don’t teach computer science in public school
“The first reason is classic: it’s a new topic, and changing the curriculum is political, expensive, and time-consuming. The bias is to leave it alone.”

107.An aside about law school — “What any lawyer will tell you, though, is that law school doesn’t teach you how to be a lawyer.”

110 Talent vs. Education “Fortunately, most of us are of a different belief, willing to imagine that there are so many opportunities in our fast-moving culture that drive, when combined with background and belief, can overcome a lack of talent nine times out of ten.”

130 Whose Dream? — “When we let our kids dream, encourage them to contribute, and push them to do work that matters, we open doors for them that will lead to places that are difficult for us to imagine.”


Hugh’s “Big Idea” Resonates Strongly with Me

March 18, 2012

Hugh MacLeod’s Big Idea that “money is a by-product. It’s not the goal.” has been reality to me so many times.

I think that Roger Martin “nails” this topic in his book Fixing the Game. You can still get the first chapter free from HBR here

It’s that catch popular catch phrase again “Focus on what you can control and that doesn’t include the score”


Fun With Definitions “Entrepreneur”

March 16, 2012

I love this quote from Steve Blank that finishes with “That’s my definition of an entrepreneur”.

In this room are a couple people who will make $100-million in their life. There are couple of you who will make $10-million. The rest of you will make less money than working at McDonald’s. And every one of you is feeling sorry for the other people in the room. That’s my definition for an entrepreneur.”

Then he called them artists.

Here’s the full NowToronto Article — The unlikely SXSWi celebrity. Tip to @sgblank himself for tweeting this article.


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