Every once in a while we come across people at work, charity, sports or any sphere of life who infuse new energy to the group and take it to the next level. They challenge the status quo, and unleash imagination to let everyone see the unseen. They don’t just talk but put it into practice with their action to rally everyone behind the cause. Mostly they are not as flashy as a CEO of a fortune 500 company but very effective and inspiring in their conduct. Can you think of one such person?
I had an enlightening conversation with a close friend on train yesterday about how Steve Jobs transformed Apple in the last decade. A company he created, left and returned when it was at the brink of bankruptcy. Today it is the most valuable technology company in the world with more than $40B in cash! Most successful people are lucky to have one home run and very few get it twice in their lifetime. Steve Jobs did it four times – Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad! He created markets which smart people had considered dead or already taken. Smartphones were around when Apple launched iPhone. However, iPhone not only trumped the established players like Blackberry (RIM), Nokia and others but also redefined the concept of a smartphone through its breakthrough innovation in usability and design. Microsoft and HP tried to create tablet market from many years but failed. Technology pundits pronounced it a dead market with laptops and netbooks crowding the space. However, Steve (Apple) saw the unseen – a multi-billion dollar opportunity for a tablet like iPad! Once again Apple created a new space by raising the bar and delivering on it. Apple is expected to sell 36 million iPads in 2011 and 50 million in 2012. Huh, dead space! So what makes people like Steve?
I am no psychologist and haven’t done any extensive research on such people. However, following Steve’s life story and his way of thinking, and knowing a few such accomplished but less well known people, I think it’s their ability to think out of the box, challenge the status quo and follow it up with their actions that set them apart. Of course the intellectual firepower is a prerequisite but most people reading this blog have it. There are many who use their intellectual curiosity to challenge the customary but never follow up with actions. Mostly they are perceived as naggers by their peers. Therefore it is must to corroborate your thoughts with actions but it requires commitment, perseverance and tremendous hard- work. Nothing succeeds like success so it is easy to ignore the hard work that goes behind making a super star. Ask PGA golfers about their practice regime or better yet read New York Times best seller “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell where he talks about 10,000 hours rule for success. Thanks to my friend for an insightful conversation and making me think a little deeply about this topic.
Yes, you can be the next “Steve Jobs” – just raise the bar and deliver on it!