I just read this article by Michael Simmons and it was really interesting. It states that that simply being in an open network instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success.
The idea is that people in open networks have unique challenges and perspectives. Because these curious folk are part of multiple groups, they have unique relationships, experiences, and knowledge that other people in their groups don’t. These views lead to more and better opportunities.
The chart for this is:
It also interesting to see how this played out with Steve Jobs. He always advocated for diversity of experiences. In a Wired interview in 1995, he said:
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.
It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences.
So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.
I love this position. The experiencing of different industries, different cultures and different perspectives is a great goal to have.
Some things i’ll remember about 2011:
Steve Jobs’ Death & Legacy. As Esquire says…
No one ever died the way Steve Jobs died. Other people have died of cancer. Other people have died in the public eye. But no one has ever died with the inexorable logic of their mortality feeding into a logic of expectation that they themselves created and aroused.
Reading about Steve Jobs in 2011 was a terrific experience. He inspired me to take my passion in products to the next level. He was truly a special individual and will be missed.
Mavericks vs. Heat. The stage was set: a team of underdogs who lost to the Heat in 2006 vs. a team of selfish divas. Down 2-1 and nearly 3-1, the scappy Mavs fought back and took the title in the most exciting NBA Finals I’ve ever seen. Continue reading “Looking back at 2011”
I’ve got the mp3’s of the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson and i’ve been listening on my daily commute for the past few weeks. So far, i’m 25% through the book and loving it. Here’s what i like about the book so far.
- Describing the social, music, and industry scene of Silicon Valley in the late 60’s and early 70’s is fascinating. The confluence of hippies, technology and drugs must have been amazing.
- The hobbyist movement around electrical engineering. What people thought of computers and how the PC emerged from microprocessors and silicon. It’s so hard now, in a world where there’s a computer on every shelf, to imagine how people didn’t logically think of the PC.
- Steve Jobs vs. Woz. It was an interesting partnership and highlights how you need different people with different talents to get a business off the ground.
The main plot of the book is around Steve Jobs and his rise as the leader of Apple. I’ve been pretty shocked about what i’ve read so far. I’m shocked by his demeanor and his behavior. The book does a good job of showing his passion, and his attention to detail. But i’m amazed about the amount of abuse he dished out to his colleagues. The book describes how each engineer, although degraded and demeaned regularly by Jobs, holds up that period as one of the most memorable is his life. The book attributes this to Jobs. I disagree. These guys were at the perfect moment of time where technology was making this type of a product possible- and were designing a product that didn’t yet exist. The market was poised to explode and did. What Jobs did was bring the right list of specifications but did it for a product that the world was clamoring for.
So far this book has increased my respect for Jobs ability to intuitively know what people want but i’ve also amazing how bad he was as a manager, friend and as a person. He seemed so erratic and awful.
I’ve yet to read about his exile, his days at Pixar and Next days, or his Apple comeback. i’m sure he gained perspective and some humility but man, in those early days of Apple he seems brutal.
There are a lot of times in the world where people tell me what to do. Things like, “I need the deck by tonight.” or “Can you meet me on Sunday to talk about the deal?” Sometimes i like doing it and sometimes i don’t. Here’s what i do know though: I always like doing what i believe in and i always hate doing what i don’t think is right.
This is why i love stories about people who were told they were wrong and they persevered and proved their naysayers wrong. Three stories stick out in my head:
Steve Jobs got forced out of Apple because he had a crazy idea that hardware can be beautiful. Years later he came back to prove that he was right 20 years before. Now he’s dominating the music industry, the largest shareholder of the largest media company (Disney) and revolutionizing the mobile technology industry
In-N-Out Burger was a fast-food joint just like all the others in the 50’s. Ray Kroc wanted to buy it and franchise it. That was the thing to do. McDonald’s was doing it, so was Taco Bell and Wendy’s and everyone else. But Harry Synder (the founder) of In-N-Out told Ray to pound salt. He had a different idea. Instead of “lower costs and increase sales” it was “do one thing and do it as well as you can.” That one thing was the In-N-Out burger. He never sold. The Synder family has purchased every In-N-Out with cash. He wanted to know every meat distributor by his first name. That’s why the #1 requested meal backstage at the Oscars is In-N-Out and why there’s over an hour wait at a place where burgers are $2.
John Lasseter lost his job at Disney back in ‘86. He was fired by an old line animator who said there was no future in computer animation. Lasseter slept under his desk, and a decade later delivered Pixar’s first hit, “Toy Story”. After story he and Pixar have gone for 10 for 10. Nothing is a sure thing in media. And John is 10 for 10.
All of these guys did it their way and the world is a better place because of it. We can only hope that we have the conviction and passion and talent of them in our own lives.