Over the past year I’ve been quite busy with personal matters, which is one reason why I haven’t blogged much during that time. However, I have found a topic, which links the two, business and personal affairs, quite nicely together. I started reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, which turned out to become one of my favourite books. It is partly a professional guide, a history of Apple Computers and the story of Jobs, connecting all three aspects, telling an interesting tale about a very special way to conduct business, honest marketing and how to create the most valuable company in history of man kind.
I admit that I was probably particularly thrilled by the book, because I red it in a time of personal self-discovery where “Steve Jobs” gave me the right impulses and answers I was looking for at the time. Nevertheless, I think that every business student and professional should read it, because it gives a very good example of a company whose success is not due to a CEO, who followed everything he learned in business school, but someone who had an idea, a simple set of values and no mercy when it came to compromises regarding quality or design. It teaches you the very important lesson that, if you want to become a successful entrepreneur you have to be true to yourself (no matter how cheesy that may sound).
I am not one of those people, who warship Apple unconditionally like a religion. I simply admire the company Apple Inc.. It is out of question, that Apple and most certainly Steve Jobs are/were not perfect, however, I do not know of a second company that is so passionate about and at the same time so good at what they do on such a large scale. You can learn a great deal about product development, marketing and leading a company from Jobs, although they would have to be very careful, because Jobs was more than a little crazy and you have to be careful which of his qualities you adapt.
Based on what I learned from the book Apple is a company that does not treat its marketing department as a bold-on, but rather tries to bring a message across they truly believe in. Jobs believed in what he did and did not try to trick consumers into buying his products attaching values to them people would aspire to. I heard many people criticising others for buying Apple products, because they were nothing but a status symbol, however, you will not get around the fact that they are of very high quality. After reading Jobs’ biography, I became even more a fan, because I learned about the passion products are designed in Cupertino. I guess wherever there is a cult you will find resistance and scepticism is just something that comes with being so successful.
One thing Jobs believed in was that everyone should stick to what they can do best and leave anything else to the pros. As part of our 4th year event module we have been discussing Marx’s ideas and other texts criticizing consumerism. In my opinion it is important to make conscious buying decisions in a world where marketers are constantly trying to stimulate our emotions creating wants and letting us forget about true needs. Ask yourself the question why you are buying an iPhone and not the more inexpensive alternative. If your honest answer is about functionality and quality and not about prestige and image you made the right choice.
So, be awake, make conscious decisions and reflect on your behaviour. By the way, the reason to read Jobs’ biography is that I did and loved it.