Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Steve Jobs- My Reaction To Walter Isaacson’s Bio

I realize that Steve Jobs is revered by his disciples but he must have been a horrible boss.

I know that, despite how he treated them, most of his former employees say positive things about Steve. But that reminds me of a guy I once worked with who embraced a Marine bootcamp approach when training new employees. He first took every opportunity to publicly humiliate them. Then, once their self-esteem was at or below ground level, he would feed them the occasional compliments so that they came to rely on him for their sense of self worth. I’m not accusing Jobs of being that consciously manipulative but the results of his behavior seem similar.

Giving Steve is due, the guy was an astute visionary and an amazing salesman. He understood how to be a messiah to his geek constituency and he did set the bar high for the rest of us.

All of that said, I don’t want to give the impression that I have a negative attitude about the guy. As his wife observed, he was a flawed and complicated man; at times cruel and hard-hearted, at times teary and vulnerable.

Some of the quotes and insights which I jotted down while listening to the audiobook:

*Stand at the intersection of humanities and science.
*The various religions are different doors to the same house.
*Form follows emotion
*The journey is the reward.
*Today isn’t liberal vs. conservative. It’s constructive vs. destructive
*One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are.
*Prune to keep the tree strong.
*If you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying. (Bob Dylan)

Full disclosure: I’m a PC, not an Apple (Although, I do now use an iPhone). So, I until I read this book, I didn’t know much about Steve Jobs except for his legend. Like most, I was saddened when he died and I got emotional when I watched the YouTube clip of his 2005 Stanford commencement address.

But this was not a warm & fuzzy guy.

Steve Jobs was a guy who behaved like he believed he was a chosen one. And, because he had a genius for design, an ability to intimidate (he used that intense stare you see on the book cover to great effect), and a gift to persuade, we enabled him.

That’s a cause for mixed emotions about the man but Steve Jobs’ positive impact on society is undeniable.

How Ideals Power Growth & Profit

Jim Stengel is the former head of marketing for Proctor & Gamble. The ideas he expresses in this book are consistent to those being expressed by Daniel Pink in “A Whole New Mind” and Jim Collins in his latest book, “Great By Choice”.

Stengel preaches that it’s essential for business leaders to combine ideals and artistry, very right-brained functions, with rigorous left-brained analysis in order to create a brand leading product or service . He collaborated with WPP’s Millward Brown Optimor’s neuroscience unit to use MRI’s to measure how quickly people associate ideals with brands.

The Stengel 50 list was created from this research. These companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 400% over the first decade of this century. Most importantly, they discovered that associations with a brand’s perceived ideas have a strong relationship with consumer preference, consideration and choice.

According to Stengel, a Brand Ideal is the essence of the business which is embraced by everyone in the company , from the CEO to the receptionist, and is amplified by everything that the company does. In these cynical times, that’s a tough order. So, like Jim Collins’ concept of “the right person in the right seat on the bus”, Stengel has found that the leaders in his Stengel 50 companies devote a lot of time and attention to recruiting with the idea that one bad hire can be highly toxic.

Daniel Pink talks about the need to think “symphonically”. Apparently, Stengel agrees. He believes that CEO’s need to be “whole-brained” which , I believe, means that they need to take a holistic approach and to think in terms of decades rather than months, quarters, or years. He introduces the concept of the Brand Artist, someone who is accountable for the soul of the brand and its ideal. Stengel says that a company needs to measure its progress on the ideal not only with customers but with employees as well.

According to Stengel , a brand’s success relies on its ability to satisfy one of the following fundamental values: elicit joy, enable connection, inspire exploration, evoke pride, or positively impact society. Bottom-line: your brand has to walk the walk as well as talk the talk in a world that demands transparency and authenticity.

One company on the Stengel 50 list is Chipotle. I’ve never been to one of their restaurants and I thought of Chipotle as another Taco Bell-type franchise. Then, I saw their TV spot during the SuperBowl
and my attitude towards the Chipotle brand changed.

As usual, I “read” the audiobook version. At times, I found the writing to be a bit stilted. Nevertheless, I think you’ll find the stories about the various brands and the concepts in this book to be both useful and enlightening.

Great By Choice

The first time I learned about Jim Collins’ work was several years ago during my first job interview in a decade. I prepared for my interview by reviewing Harvey MacKay’s classic suggestions for responses to interview questions and doing my due diligence about the medical facility to which I was applying. However, when the interviewer’s first question was about how, in my position in the marketing/PR/communications department, I’d improve a patient’s experience, and then talked about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus, I knew that things had changed in the HR world.

“Great By Choice” is Jim Collins’ collaboration with his former student, Morten Hansen, to discover the facts and the myths about why certain organizations far exceed those of seemingly equal competitors. Collins and Hansen compare eight organizations: Southwest Airlines/ Pacific Southwest Airlines, Stryker/United States Surgical Corp., Progressive Insurance/Safeco Insurance, Intel/AMD, Microsoft/Apple, Amgen/Genetech, Biomet/Kirschner, and the 1911 Amundsen and Scott expeditions to reach the South Pole.

Collins and Hansen describe the high performers in their study cases as “10Xers” because these organizations didn’t just succeed but beat its industry index by at least 10 times. They identify three key characteristics of 10X leadership: fanatic discipline, empirical creativity, and productive paranoia. 10X leaders are passionately driven by a cause beyond themselves. As the authors note, all organizations experience both good and bad luck. It’s what one does with the luck they get which matters. They then offer their ideas about the characteristics which describe a “luck event”.

Collins and Hansen confront some entrenched myths to determine their validity. For instance, there’s the concept that a threat-filled world favors the speedy (“You’re either quick or dead”). Instead, the authors suggest that it’s better to figure out when it’s best to go fast and when it’s best to go slow. Also, there’s the firmly held belief that radical change on the outside requires radical internal changes. Collins & Hansen observe that just because an organization’s external environment is experiencing dramatic change it’s not necessarily a good idea for the organization to radically change itself.

“Great By Choice” presents some interesting concepts such as the “20 Mile March”, “Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs”, “Return On Luck”, “Moore’s Law”, and SMaC. Collins’ and Hansen’s research presents useful answers to the question: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, while other’s don’t?

No matter whether your endeavor is personal, public service-oriented, or in business, you’ll find the insights provided by this research to be helpful.

3G or 4G? That Is The Question

OK, I admit it. I’m living in prehistoric times with my old Blackberry Curve.

But my wife bought me an Apple Store gift card for my birthday and she’s been bugging me to get an iPhone. It’s obvious that technology is changing rapidly. Both our daughters have iPhones. But I’ve got a couple of dilemmas.

First, our AT&T contract. Now, of course, all the Apple people sneer at AT&T and we don’t get good reception at our home because we live near an airport where new construction for cell towers is prohibited.
But Verizon doesn’t work very well at our house either.

Our oldest daughter switched back to AT&T from Verizon because she wasn’t happy with the Verizon’s coverage. So, that complicates matters. Which carrier to choose?

Then, there’s the matter of which iPhone. The 5G is coming out in August but I’ll leave that one to the early adopters. The real question for me is whether to go for the 4G or the 3G.

In Shelly Palmer’s review of 3G vs. 4G devices, he points out that AT&T 4G is only available at full speed in Northern CA, Greater LA, Greater Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Charlotte, Baltimore, Buffalo, Boston, Providence & Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, Verizon’s 4G is only available to 1/3rd of the US right now and won’t cover most of the country for almost 3 years!

Plus, if you own a 4G phone but a 4G network isn’t available, your phone is actually running at 3G anyway. But, if you don’t turn off the 4G radio, the phone keeps searching for a network and eats up your battery.

You can read Shelly’s complete review here:

So, it sounds like I’ll be going with an iPhone 3G. But which carrier:
Verizon or AT&T?

This is too much work for a phone!

Bon Jovi Says Steve Jobs Killed Music Business

In a recent article in The Sunday Times Magazine, Jon Bon Jovi is quoted as saying: “Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it. God, it was a magical, magical time. I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am, and you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: ‘What happened?’. Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business.”

Former record label promotion executive and music industry blogger responded in his weekly blog to Bon Jovi’s comments with an open letter. Here are some excerpts from Steve’s letter:

“Dear Jon:
You’ve been making records a long time. In fact, when you had your first Billboard chart hit in 1984 (“Runaway,” which peaked at #39) CDs had already been in the retail music market two years.

Now, thirty-nine years after CDs were first introduced to the consumer, you seem to have forgotten that it was the CD, not Steve Jobs, that made kids miss “the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it.” ….

Funny thing about CDs, I don’t ever remember any artists I worked with at the time complaining about the hefty royalty checks they were receiving as their catalog(s) were released in the new format and sold millions all over again. Not a one. Nope. It was a good time for the labels and all their artists as billions were generated in revenues just from re-releasing older albums on CD.”

You can read Steve’s entire letter at

So, what do you think? Do you agree with Bon Jovi or with Steve Meyer’s assessment of this situation?

Buzz4Boomers March 3, 2011

Some items in the news which I think are relevant to our 21st Century
Boomer Experience.

Tablets are the hot new device in the social media world. Although I didn’t really want one, I received a Kindle as a Christmas present this year and, truth be told, the benefits of using it aren’t yet apparent to me. Since US News & World Report has ceased producing hard copies of the magazine, I do load the digital version of my subscription onto the Kindle but then I forget to read it. I’ve also loaded several ebooks which have been sitting unread in my PC files for ages. I haven’t read those either.

Nevertheless, like smartphones, tablets will become a more ubiquitous part of the Boomer lifestyle in coming years so it’s a good idea to stay abreast of new developments and improvements in the technology. Apple’s iPad 2 becomes available on March 11th. Here’s a review from Engadget:

The fervor and passion of today’s teens and young adults remind me of Boomers in the late 60s and early 70s. For instance, this story about using social media to keep women safe:

Remember the slogan, “Ford Has A Better Way” ? Bill Ford Jr. spoke yesterday at the TED Conference about his vision for your driving experience in the future:

If you run across a story which you believe might be interesting to fellow Baby Boomers, feel free to email it to me at

2011 Web Threat Predictions

If you use a smartphone and especially if you’re an iPhone, iPad or Mac user, pay attention. I know, the folks at The Apple Store told you that you really don’t need anti-virus protection because Apple products are virus-proof. But that could soon change. Like squirrels trying to access the food in your bird feeder, hackers are apparently obsessed with cracking the Apple codes.

PC Magazine reports:

McAfee on Tuesday (12/28/10) released its list of threat predictions for 2011 and it highlighted things like URL shorteners, location-based services, Apple products, and Internet TV. McAfee on Tuesday released its list of threat predictions for 2011 and it highlighted things like URL shorteners, location-based services, Apple products, and Internet TV.
What else made McAfee’s threat list?

• Hacktivism: McAfee predicted a rise in the number of politically motivated cyber attacks. “More groups will repeat the WikiLeaks example,” McAfee said, though strategy will become more sophisticated and leverage social networks.

• Friendly Fire: McAfee predicted a rise in the use of malicious content disguised as e-mail from sources you know. “Signed” malware that imitates legitimate files will become more prevalent, and “friendly fire,” in which threats appear to come from your friends but in fact are viruses such as Koobface or VBMania, will continue to grow as an attack of choice by cybercriminals, McAfee said. This could go hand-in-hand with social network attacks, which could eventually overtake e-mail attacks.

• Botnets: McAfee Labs predicts that the recent merger of Zeus with SpyEye will produce more sophisticated bots due to improvements in bypassing security mechanisms and law enforcement monitoring. Additionally, McAfee Labs expects to see a significant botnet activity in the adoption of data-gathering and data-removal functionality, rather than the common use of sending spam.

You can read the entire PC Magazine article here:,2817,2374784,00.asp