Steve Jobs' Productivity Secrets (Part 2)

We continue to study the life experience of Apple founder Steve Jobs and learn to apply it in our own lives. In the second part, you will learn about the importance of stories and presentations, start thinking outside the box, delegate responsibility, understand the importance of education and the use of knowledge from other areas. You will also understand what it means to live in the future and how to always be one step ahead. You can read the previous part here ☛.


6. Tell stories

Jobs was one of the greatest corporate storytellers. He turned business into a kind of art. Once, during the presentation of a new product, he was moving towards the exit, and then abruptly turned around and said: "But, there is one more thing..." – and talked about another innovation. And he did it 31 more times!

One of the secrets to Steve Jobs' success was building the audience's expectations to get them to the big end. As magician David Blaine says, "Steve Jobs is the ultimate showman, keeping the audience excited all the way to the climax."

It doesn't matter how innovative your product is. You have to get the audience excited about it. For every innovative idea that breaks into the market, there are thousands of others that have sunk into oblivion. Their creators simply failed to tell a compelling story.

Stories were an extremely important part of Apple's corporate culture. Jobs banned slide shows from weekly meetings to force his team to discuss, ask questions, and think critically without being dependent on technology.

Let's think of tomorrow instead of guessing about what happened yesterday.


How to apply this in your life?

  • Use strong phrases. Start your presentation with bright and catchy phrases that reflect the essence of the product. That's how it was with the iPod: "A thousand songs in your pocket."
  • Use antagonists. There are no good stories without villains. Position yourself as a revolutionary who fights against an enemy who tries to maintain the status quo despite all the obvious disadvantages of such a position. At one time, Jobs imagined Apple as a company that creates tools that compare the capabilities of ordinary people and giant corporations.
  • Live by the "rule of three". Focus on no more than three key points. This is the optimal number of pieces of information that people can hold in short-term memory.
  • Create simple and visual presentations: lots of pictures and few words. Use the 40-10 rule. Your presentation should be no more than 40 words on the first 10 slides.
  • Use emotional words like "great", "advanced", "dream", "amazing" and others.
  • Remember the words of Steve Jobs: "People who know what they're talking about don't need a PowerPoint."


7. Think differently

Before the advent of the iPod, people also listened to music. This was nothing new. Jobs just made it possible for people to do it differently – easier and faster.

Jobs didn't sell products. He was selling impressions. He gave people new and better ways to solve problems—often before they even realized it. The iPod is a very good example. Prior to its launch in 2001, people spent a lot of effort organizing their digital playlists. So Apple created the whole system:

  • the device provided "1000 songs in your pocket";
  • you could load an entire CD onto your iPod in 5-10 seconds;
  • iTunes was launched in 2003, where you could buy a legal track and download it directly to your gadget.

This completely changed the music market and determined its development for many years to come. The ability to change approaches in familiar things is one of the brightest characteristics of the genius of Jobs.

Innovation separates the leaders from the catch-ups.


How to apply this in your life?

Thinking outside the box is a skill we once had but lost over time. Just look at any 6-year-old child – they all think a little differently. But then education and school wean them from this. The good news is that we can reverse this process.

The basis of non-standard thinking is the ability to build associations. Learn to find connections between various objects and phenomena that at first glance have nothing in common. Just choose 2 random words and come up with a metaphor that would unite them. For example, the link between social media and donuts is that when both are consumed in excess, heart disease develops.

This exercise will allow you to liberate your brain, make it go beyond the usual limits – that is, teach you to think differently.

Steve Jobs' Productivity Secrets (Part 2)

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8. Delegate

Jobs created a system of accountability that made sure that everyone could do the best job that was required of him, and nothing more. At meetings, he created a to-do list, and next to each task he put one NOL – the person directly responsible. The NRO must ensure that the task is completed, and they are personally responsible for this.

This simple system ensures that each person leaves the meeting with a clear understanding of what their purpose is and what they should be doing. It removes any opportunity for excuses and makes everyone more productive.

My job is to take from different parts of the company, clear paths and gather resources for key projects.


How to apply this in your life?

The more you delegate, the more you optimize your performance. You allocate more time to the most important work, or the one that you do perfectly. Delegate everything that is not up to your level, or someone can do it better for a unit of time or money.

However, this approach often ends with a poor-quality result and failure to meet deadlines on the part of the performer. The following tips will help you avoid this:

  • Delegate to the right person. Make sure that he really has the necessary competencies for this.
  • Provide clear instructions: write down a step-by-step guide to the task and be as specific as possible. For example, for some tasks it is very convenient to record the screen using the appropriate applications.
  • Define a specific deliverable: specify exactly what the completed task should look like, and what the deadline is for it to be completed.
  • Please provide further clarification. Sometimes employees for one reason or another forget to ask clarifying questions. Offer it to them and make sure they get it right. To do this, ask the person to explain the task in their own words.

Steve Jobs' Productivity Secrets (Part 2)


9. Learn and use other people's ideas

Artists are constantly looking for sources of inspiration. They are looking for something to draw, finish, redraw. They rarely create something really new. The best innovators do the same: they take ideas from other fields and apply them to their product or service. Combining other people's inventions, they make something new.

Steve Jobs also used combinational thinking. Having dropped out of college, he still continued to attend individual courses that seemed interesting to him. One of these was a course in calligraphy. Jobs learned there about various fonts, how the space between letter combinations affects readability, and many other subtleties of typography. He later used this on a Mac. "If I hadn't enrolled in that college course back then, the Mac would never have had multiple font sets, and since Windows copied the Mac, they might not have been on computers at all."

Good artists create, great artists steal, and real artists deliver on time.


How to apply this in your life?

  • Always carry a book with you. You can read it at any free moment – in transport, in queues, or during breaks at work. This will allow you to read one book per week, which is 50 per year.
  • Make a "to study" list – sort of like a to-do list. Put there everything that you would like to learn – whether it be a foreign language, programming or first aid skills.
  • Spend more time with people you can learn from. Feel free to ask questions and ask for advice – people usually like to share their knowledge.
  • Think. It's not enough to just learn about something new. You also need to learn how to process new information and come up with new ideas. Albert Einstein once said: "Any person who reads too much and uses his brain too little becomes lazy in his thinking."
  • Teach others. Teaching is a great way to consolidate your knowledge and ensure the highest possible level of understanding. You don't have to get a job at school, you can blog or just discuss your ideas with someone.


10. Live in the future

Steve Jobs lived in the future. Here's how he explained his success: "There's an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love: 'I race to where the puck will be, not where it's been.' We have always tried to do the same at Apple, from the very beginning. And we always will."

Jobs inspired employees to see themselves as revolutionaries. Bring computers to the masses, make the capabilities of smartphones as wide as possible. Making the world fundamentally new and better. This approach inevitably attracts those who want to do meaningful things, and who are willing to go through fire and water to achieve this.

We are here to leave a mark on the universe. Otherwise, why else would you be here?


How to apply this in your life?

To live in the future, you must foresee it. It is necessary to understand the trends of tomorrow and build your plans in accordance with this. Jobs recognized the global promise of digital technology, and this coincided with his desire to change the world.

How can we learn to understand what awaits us tomorrow?

  • Start with your knowledge. The more you know, the better you can predict the future. Spend more time on your education, study what interests you and look for promising areas.
  • Think like "what if..?". Get in the habit of asking yourself this question more often. Even in a situation of choosing between different types of cheese. This will help you become more open to new things – which is a prerequisite for living in the future.
  • Learn to think strategically. Most people get bogged down in a tactical routine – their planning horizon doesn't go beyond a week or a month. Meanwhile, tactics are only a tool for solving strategic problems, and not vice versa. Learn from the very beginning to decide where and how you will go tomorrow.

Steve Jobs' Productivity Secrets (Part 2)

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It is not enough to do something – you also need to tell a compelling story about it.

Think differently – look for new ways to solve old problems. Sometimes it can make a revolution.

Delegate not just tasks, but also responsibility for them. Let people make their own decisions.

Learn and use other people's ideas – sometimes even the most unexpected and unimportant knowledge will help you do something important.

Live in the future – study it, plan and be one step ahead.