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Back To The Future With Steve Jobs & Playboy

I recently came across a Steve Jobs’ Playboy interview from 1985 and got inspired. I see this article circulate from time to time and it’s one of the best out there from Jobs. It’s amazing how reading this in 2020, 35 years later, it still resonates entirely to technology innovation and the equally important company innovation of today’s modern business landscape.

Apple truly was an Internet innovator type of company before the Web was even born, blazing a trail for the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Atlassian, Salesforce Spotify and more. With so many biopics, novels and articles written about Jobs since he passed, I thought this interview best summed up the way he operated in building one of the most impactful companies in history. 

Here are my top 21 favorite points from the iconic sitdown:

  1. Stick it to the man. F*$% IBM, screw the big guys. Blaze a new trail and keep charge of your own destiny.
  2. 60’s generation, live through that and it stays a part of you. “Many of my friends ended up ingrained in that idealism of that period but with a certain practicality.” Sound familiar? Millennials? Gen Y? Amazing how this is still true today at Apple as well.
  3. Technology, the personal computer (the future Internet) was America’s last great chance to impact society forever.
  4. Business became the new politics. It’s where really changing the world actually occurs.
  5. It’s all about the product, innovation, and building things for a definite audience. Being a few steps ahead (in his case, decades).
  6. Screw targeting the Fortune 500 (like IBM was) and go for Fortune 14mm. Mass market, like Dyn was and most cloud businesses like AWS, Salesforce, Atlassian, Twillio are.
  7. He said all the way back then, which is amazing, “The developments will be in making the products more portable, networking them.” Mind you, there was no Internet, laptop or PDA at this point. This guy saw the Web, iPods, iPads, iPhones, IoT 35 years ago.
  8. He’s a pitchman. A product guy. Their leadership early on and to this day, was always thinking product first, sell it second, with intense understanding and…
  9. Passion, passion, passion. It has to be genuine!
  10. Look, feel, vibe, user experience were the most important things they thought about when building the Mac (version 1 & the rest).
  11. Adults say: “What is that?” Kids say: “What can I do with that?” 
  12. He speaks of not needing to know how something works, but how it is used and for what purpose. You don’t need to know how a transmission works to drive a car. 
  13. Control your own destiny. Stay in charge. Operate in the way you think is right. Live and die by your own decisions, not someone else’s. Talks of always being involved with Apple even if he takes leave, hibernates, mettles in the background and returns full bore 
  14. “Have fun and make money.” This was the ad he answered at Atari. He wanted to make money to travel and he surely did.
  15. Very interesting perspective on business partnerships and working so closely together. He and Woz. Complimentary team and opposites in most regards.
  16. Their original market was hobbyist but they did everything possible to get past that fast and get mainstream. Real life use cases (education was huge).
  17. He compares Atari and Commodore to a brochure for their services. There is tons of biz to go around.
  18. “It was the chance to try something. To fail, to succeed, to grow.” “Your twenties are your time to be impatient.” Urging more people to take the startup leap.
  19. Expectations change and evolve. It’s not greed. It’s reality. “Holy shit, it’s actually coming true.” He was just learning business too and wasn’t afraid to admit it and take it head on.
  20. “For the first 30 years of your life, you make your habits. For the last 30 years, your habits make you.” The guy amazes me.
  21. Lastly, in 1985, Apple spent $100K on fruit juices in their HQ. Seriously. They wore jeans and t-shirts to the office long before Google or Facebook or Twitter did. Key talent, company culture, and a ‘we can do big things and change the world’ were the basis then and they NEVER wavered.

Here is another link to the article if you want to be as motivated to be disruptive like we are at York IE: http://reprints.longform.org/playboy-interview-steve-jobs 

Lastly, to quote Bob Dylan who Jobs references as a guiding light, “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”

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