Monthly Archives: October 2011
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The internet, TV and millions of Apple devices have been chattering for the last few weeks about the passing of the Tech Industry’s rockstar Steve Jobs. While everyone from his Apple co-founder Woz to kids have chimed in with their opinions in different ways, the tone has been the same. Steve changed the world.
In addressing the occasion, I wanted to take a different approach. Since I never had the pleasure of meeting Steve I can’t say that I have any special insight from personal experience, but I have heard some interesting stories that most have not, marking who the man was.
In 1983, during Steve’s first stint at Apple, he courted executive John Sculley to come and be the chief executive of the company. Sculley, working at Pepsi at the time was reluctant to leave to join Apple. Sculley explained to my dad that Jobs made his pitch clear, “do you want to stay here at make sugar water or do you want to come to California and change the world.” Sculley accepted the offer. This bold statement gives us a window into Jobs’ mindset. Jobs knew what he was doing. He knew he was changing the world. Many talk a big game but Steve made things happen.
Up until recently, I had always assumed that Jobs was one of the technical minds behind Apple and the technology his companies ran (including Next and Pixar). This was not the case. But while he may have not been able to write code, he had an uncanny grasp on technology, psychology and marketing. I would argue that he did it better than anyone else. This gives me hope that one day I can make a difference in the technology world even though I barely know HTML (from a class I had to take back in college).
I was mainly inspired by his speaking and presentation style. It was conversational, powerful and simple. He didn’t need to jump up and down and run all over the stage. He made it feel like he was talking directly to you. A style and a presence that I strive to emulate, even a little.
Just a few days ago, I came in possession of the program from Jobs’ private memorial (a pretty awesome piece of memorabilia that I plan on keeping). In looking through it I was struck by its parallels to Apple products. It was then that I realized Apple is Steve. The products, the marketing, the attention to details and design, the way it has improved our lives.
The program was simple, yet elegant. An 8”x5.5” white textured cardstock folder with the words,
1955 – 2011
in small letters on the cover. Inside were a series of poems, song lyrics and words. No agenda, no list of speakers or series of ceremonial steps; just 6 leaflets of cardstock each with profound words that give insight into the Jobs that most of us didn’t get to personally know.
The first sheet quoted John Muir: “This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”
I will keep the rest of the contents to myself except let you know that the last sheet in the folder had an Apple reference; a quoting of the famous and incredibly poignant commercial that came after Steve’s return to Apple… To the Crazy Ones, culminating with the statement- “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
I feel like my tribute should be simple yet encapsulating and in true Jobs style. So let me say,
Steve, Thank You.
Sometimes you just need to lighten things up a bit… Especially on a Friday!
What is the key to keeping sharp and awake through back to back to back conference calls and meetings?
It’s having fun with it!
While there are many ways to “spice up” your work day (a friend of mine put tin foil all over her coworker’s office with a couple peers… note: I’m not saying I recommend doing this. It’s just an example), one simple way is to play favorite game of geriatrics all over the country- BINGO!
I think we have all been at meetings where our boss (or one of the higher ups) is going over results or the plan for the next quarter and he/she starts to ramble, spouting off all sorts of cliche corporate lingo. Why not find a way to keep track of how “gimmicky” and absurd the talk gets? (while staying more engaged)
Here is how to play…
First make your game board. Basically everyone has seen a Bingo board- a 5 square x 5 square grid (25 boxes total). Second, fill in a “corporate speak” word in each box (with a FREE space in the middle).
Here is a quick list to get you started… bottom line, synergies, change agent, strategic initiative, at the end of the day, benchmark, value-add, win-win, fast track… I think you get the point. Here is a site that offers a fairly good template:
Warning– when you play the game, you may come to the realization that whomever corporate officer or manager speaking is totally BSing, or uses a bunch of these words to sound more strategic. You may also realize how often you end up saying these words yourself (I know I do!).
Here are a couple ways to play:
Standard– Print one out and bring it to a corporate conference… odds are this is the best and fastest venue to fill out your BINGO card.
Bold– Pull out your game board during a conference call. It is one way to force you to keep paying attention to whomever is droning on about covers on TPS reports (or Swingline Staplers!)
BOLDER– Bring your gameboard to a face-to-face meeting. Make sure to bring a few other papers to hide your gameboard between. The challenge is marking off the words without getting caught.
In every set of instructions there is a “Winning the Game” section… Winning the Game: Not getting caught! As Bernie Mac’s character in the movie Oceans 13 put it… “Nuff Said.”
Enjoy… Any other fun work games out there that you play?
Mr. Biz, OUT!
Check out an article I wrote that was just published on the website SplashLife.com
Splashlife is a resource and advocacy group for the rising generation of 75 million young Americans, offering focused content, membership benefits, opportunities, and tools necessary to improve their lives and the lives of others.
No matter what career path you take there is one question that everyone faces…
How do I balance my career and family?
Finding an answer to this question is tough because we are often pulled in many different directions and have a desire to be there for everybody and find a solution for anything that comes up in both worlds. Whenever I have met with or heard an executive speak about career development the question above invariably comes up. For the most part the answer is the same, something along the lines of, “well, it’s hard but it’s just something you have to do. You have to find a balance and make time for family amongst your busy work schedule.”
While I can understand the difficulty of “balancing,” I feel like the foundation of this kind of answer is BS.
Only once have I heard this question answered genuinely and in a direct way.
A couple years ago I was at a quarterly meeting for a leadership program I was a part of and an executive from my company was talking about her career experience, passing along advice to the audience. She was very much a “straight shooter” and I appreciated how direct her answers were, but her response to this question shocked me.
When asked how to balance career and family her answer was simple, yet profound, “you just choose which is more important and make that your top priority,” she said. She went on to explain that if you allow yourself to waffle back and forth between family and work you will not be able to be fully fulfilled in either, leaving you in a middle ground of discontent. She basically told the audience that she knew she wanted to raise a family but that she had decided long ago that she would put her career first and from then on when presented with a work responsibility and family obligation, she chose work.
First off, yes, this answer does sound bad (by society’s standards and because of the importance of family), but at the same time I respect her for taking a stand and I see a great deal of validity in what she is saying. Whether we want to admit it or not, making the decision of which is going to get priority would help take a lot of guilt out of things. And yes, the decision is hard to make. Some may see the tradeoffs between family and career in a simplistic way (ala this: http://xkcd.com/946/) but in reality it is a challenge (and a different an unique decision for each individual).
I will let you figure out all that goes into determining your priorities, but I will recommend this… although it is hard, choose what is more important and stick with it. Choosing family over career does not mean you cannot have a career filled with accomplishment and choosing career over family does not mean that you cannot have kids or will be a terrible mom or dad. Making this choice, however, will give you piece of mind and can lead to more contentment in each of these areas of life.