"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life? Remembering you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
These words from Steve Jobs at his speech to Standford students in 2005 now feel even more meaningful. He had already been diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer that eventually killed him yesterday. But just think. Since that speech he lived out his words by leading Apple to launch not one but two world-changing innovations: the iPhone and iPad.
You can see the full speech here. Or click below to click below on the blog to watch the 3 minutes of the speech where he talks about death being the greatest motivator in life.
And as a modest tribute, here is a re-cap of the post I wrote last year on "Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs".
Any idea what’s happened to Apple’s share price since Steve Jobs returned as CEO in 1998? For perspective, the Nasdaq index of US tech stocks has gone up 40% during this time. The answer is an eye-popping 2500%. No wonder he is widely recognized as one of the most inspirational brand leaders ever. What can we mere mortals learn from the incredible leadership of Steve Jobs?
1. Ignite product passion:
Don’t let anyone fool you that Apple is a lifestyle brand for people who want to challenge the norm and be a rebel. The lifestyle advertising loved by marketing folk is not the key to Apple’s success. Jobs’ key role has been re-igniting and keeping alight the passion for amazing products. Sure, the look and feel of the products creates desire. But the product and software design creates delight and wonder in use. Jobs’ first move when returning to Apple was to launch the candy coloured original iMac as a symbol of re-invention. He then inspired, cajoled and aligned the Apple organization to design a stream of breakthrough products and software, including iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad.
We might not all work on products as sexy as Apples, but that shouldn’t stop us having a passion for the products and services we work on. This is important not only for customers, but also for engaging people inside the business. Research by Interbrand shows that selling products you are proud of is the number one driver of organizational pride.
2. Be an epic storyteller
Jobs is Apple’s Chief Executive Office, but also the Chief Storyteller. He’s not just in the business of making products. He’s on a mission to revolutionise the way we create and interact with information and entertainment. This is summed up by Jobs’ famous question to John Sculley, when persuading the Pepsi CEO to join Apple: "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?"
All brand leaders should create and communicate a clear and inspiring story about the journey you want to take, and why its worth people joining you. And you don’t have to sell a sexy product to have a sexy story. Look at how Persil/Omo have been on a journey to give kids freedom to get dirty. Or how Pampers are helping mums with baby development every step of the way.
3. Be a beacon for buzz:
Steve Jobs acts as the public face of Apple. In particular, he is the star of the Apple events where the latest new products are launched, each one a “chapter” in the story of the Apple brand. In this role he generates huge amounts of free PR for the brand. In his rare interviews he further fuels the fire of brand buzz. A google search for “Steve Jobs and Apple” returns 28 million hits.
Brand leaders should ensure they are this visible face out there promoting the story of their brand. Richard Reed of innocent has done a great job of this. He has romanticized the story of how he and his mates started the company by testing prototype products at a festival, and positioned the brand as helping us get those elusive five daily portions of fruit and veg.
In conclusion, leading like Steve Jobs means having a passionate zeal for your product or service, and telling a brand story based on this passion to your employees, customers and the wider world. And if you only help generate a fraction of that 2500% increase in stock price increase, you’ll still be a hero.