This morning I listened to a this really good podcast by Phil Windley of IT conversation interviewing Carmine Gallo on his new book The 7 Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs.

I haven’t read the book. But here is a summary of what I gleamed from the podcast and this presentation I found on slideshare.






Principle #1 – Do what you love.

As Carmine points out in his book this doesn’t mean drop out of school and going surfing.
The sweet spot for doing what you love is finding that crossroads between:

  • what’s something you are passionate about
  • something you can be world class at
  • can you make a living doing it

If you can line up these three things, you won’t have to work a day in your life.

Principle #2 – Put a dent in the universe.

We all want purpose. We all want to leave our mark. Passion fuels the rocket, but it’s the vision that points it in the right direction.

We’re gambling on our vision, and we’d rather do that than make ‘me-too’ products. – Steve Jobs

Principle #3 – Kick-start your brain.

Take ideas from a broad set of experiences. Don’t just look inside your own community.

I learned this lesson with my first startup Cambrian House. For two years I didn’t write a lick of code. Instead I learned about a wide range of subjects I knew nothing about – marketing, sales, hiring, firing, pitching, raising capital, blogging, design, and how to be a customer (one of the toughest jobs on any software project).

This was by design. I wanted this to be my street MBA. But I am glad I did because The Agile Samurai and some other things I am working on would not have been realized if I had stayed 50,000 feet deep in enterprise application development.

It’s scary leaving your comfort zone. No one is more insular than the tech community. But going to other conferences, talking to people in other disciplines, is where true innovation comes from.

Innovation is about connecting things. For Steve it was realizing that the beauty of calligraphy and typesetting could be applied to computers (the first Mac).

Notice how the Apple Store doesn’t have a till or cashier displayed as soon as you walk in? That’s because Apple based their stores around the best retail customer experience they could find – The Four Seasons.

Part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians, and poets, and artists, and zoologists, and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world. – Steve Jobs

Principle #4 – Sell dreams, not products.

This is to remind us that no one cares about our products or services. All they care about is what they can do for them. Sell the dream and you will win them over.

Another way of looking at this is to always make sure you are selling the benefits of your product and not the features (breaking safely over anti-lock brakes).

Principle #5 – Say no to 1,000 things.

This is probably my favorite principle of them all. It just resonates with the minimalist in me. If it’s not adding value or contributing to where you are going … drop it.
Don’t waste another second thinking about it.

Steve obviously takes this to the extreme in Apple products which is why you won’t find a USB connector on the iPad.

Principle #6 – Create insanely great customer experiences.

This is the principle I struggle the most with. Not because I don’t agree with it. Just because I find it hard.

If creating great customer experiences was easy everyone would be doing it. Yet there’s plenty of evidence in the software and products we use everyday that companies don’t take this to heart.

Don’t believe me? Try flying somewhere and tell me how much you enjoy the experience. This is an industry just waiting to be tipped on it’s head.

Principle #7 – Master the message.

This one I am probably weakest on. I don’t have a lot of experience mastering messages (except many when it comes to explaining Agile).

But messaging is more than marketing. It’s the whole package and experience. As Carmine points out in his presentation buying a Mac from the apple store is like going on a date.

When it comes to presenting there are a couple other rules of thumb:

  • no bullet points
  • more pictures less words
  • eliminate the clutter

Bonus principle – Don’t let the bozos get your down.

Here are a number of put downs Steve has been on the receiving end over the years:

We don’t need you. You haven’t gotten through college yet.

Your problem is that you still believe the way to grow is to serve caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers.

There’s no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.

Get your feet off my desk. Get out of here. You stink and we are not going to buy your product.

Don’t let these jerks get you down. If your intuition and gut are telling you something needs to be done, it probably does. Be the elephant. Get the think skin.

If you are already doing these things good on ya. I find following these principles like these an uphill battle every day. Probably for the same reason most of us don’t eat right or exercise.

But if you draw inspiration from icons like Steve Jobs, Carmine’s book may be what you are looking for this holiday season.