Three lessons that Guy Kawasaki learned from Steve Jobs

I normally take the London Underground to get around between meetings, but that doesn’t work with my crutches and knee brace so I’ve been taking a lot of taxis recently. Doing email in cars always makes me feel iffy so to fill the time I’ve been watching videos that I stack up on YouTube.

Yesterday I watched Guy Kawasaki’s 12 lessons I learned from Steve Jobs. It’s a long video and wouldn’t necessarily recommend watching the whole thing (although Kawasaki’s speaking style is something to behold), but the first three lessons are well worth repeating.

  1. Experts are clueless – I apologise to all the experts out there for what is a sweeping generalisation and for the record I do think that many of you add value, but Guy makes an important point here. He is talking about market experts and journalists and whether entrepreneurs should rely on them as they think of ideas for their businesses. I agree that they should not. Read their articles, certainly, and if you disagree be clear on why, but if you are going to disrupt a market you should get to know it first hand and form your own view. You want to be leading the analysts, not following them. I particulaly liked Guy’s closer on this point – “Experts are clueless, especially people who declare themselves experts..”. Expertise shines through and doesn’t need to be declared.
  2. Customers cannot tell you what they need – they can give you great insight into how to make your product 10% better which is important at the right time, but it isn’t enough for the foundation of a startup. You should be aiming for a product that is 10 times better, like the iPhone to the BlackBerry. An important sub-point here is that focus groups are next to useless as validation for new products.
  3. The biggest challenges beget the best work – Steve Jobs got great people to perform extraordinary feats by giving them huge challenges. Many of them produced the best work of their careers as a result, and they loved Steve for it, despite the other difficulties of working with him. This is a great lesson for all startups – hire great people, give them direction and then step back. Don’t micromanage.
  • True. Great post.

  • john abbott

    Great post Nic. How do you square point 2 with Lean Startup / Customer Development philosophies? Is it that the customer can explain their need/pain but not really help you build the product to service it. Like the Henry Ford quote ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses’ the customer may be wrong about the product they want but they can certainly help you understand the need/pain?

  • Thanks John. Lean startup approaches are all about validating your customer hypotheses with the minimum possible spend on product development. If you want a revolutionary product you have to dream that idea up yourself and then show the product to potential customers as quickly and cheaply as possible to see if they get it. You are right that customers know their pain, even if they are bad at projecting their demand for imaginary products.