Episode 19

You’re listening to SmartTalk with Victor and Mark; SmartTalk is hosted by Victor Medina estate planning, elder law and private client attorney in New Jersey and Mark Merenda CEO of Smart Marketing a marketing and coaching firm for law firms, Attorneys and financial professionals.

SmartTalk is a podcast for solo practitioners and small firm attorney’s looking to improve their practice.

You’re listening to SmartTalk Episode 19 Steve Jobs and his Legacy

Victor: Welcome back to another edition with Victor and Mark, well Mark, its just you and I this time, I don’t know what to say, no special guests
Mark: well its good cause I don’t like letting them talk anyway
Victor: and there’s a pretty frequent complaint from those folks that say we don’t let them talk
Mark: Good, good, at least its clear when people come on the show that its our show and we’re going to talk a lot and you can occasionally fill in if we ask you a direct question
Victor: I feel a little bad for the people that are not trying to sell anything they don’t have a book or anything they’re just here because we asked them to show up because we ask them to and then we railroad them
Mark: hey, it’s a fight for oxygen here; you earn your airtime by being funny or witty or entertaining or interesting in some way; we’re not going to pause and invite you to do that, you just have to do it.
Victor: I agree
Mark: it’s a brutal thing its survival quest; the law of the jungle
Victor: all right, so we agreed on a theme for this show, what’s our theme?
Mark: our theme is Steve Jobs RIP; both of us are of course passionate fans of all things Apple; I think we both had sort of the same reaction, I think it was me that told you the news.
Victor: yes
Mark: via text message and I had this reaction that really of surprised me; I was very conscious of how much I admired Steve Jobs, and I was very conscious of how I admired the products, I love using the products and all of that; but I felt this emotional reaction when I heard the news I felt the tears spring into my eyes; it is clear that I am not alone, at the Apple website, at apple.com/stevejobs they have a rolling tribute, what people emailed in and they have over a million so far.
Victor: I’ve got to say, I’ve known you for a little while and I’ve seen you deal with some of the worst news; the Red Sox collapse
Mark: (cough, cough, choke)
Victor: things like that and I shared that news with you, I’ve been like-minded, I haven’t seen you tear up nearly as much in those instances as you are professing to have done that Wednesday night.
Mark: No, it was terrible, terrible news; I think that every now and then there’s somebody your not even conscious of how much you identify with this person and when it happens, you fell like somebody you know, somebody close to you is hurt or is no more. I think a lot of people from my generation maybe felt that way when they heard the news about John Lennon; on my latest blog post I quote Carrie Fisher who grew up in Hollywood and so on; she said she felt that way when she heard that Carey Grant had died. When looking at the news stories on Steve jobs a thought that I had been reflecting on really for days now is what other businessman in the world could die and have this emotional of reaction; a billion people?
Victor: For that matter, how many people know CEO’s of other companies?
Mark: Right
Victor: Charisma or not, its just not something that generally happens you associate one person an elite person
Mark: Right, you and I each own a company, they’re very small companies compared to Steve Jobs we’re a mosquito buzzing around the elephant in that sense; but the issues of owning and growing a business remain, to me, the same. And he did it so brilliantly, for so long that that it’s inspiring to me as a business owner, everything he did was inspiring.
Victor: Okay, so we’ve got a couple of touchstones that we can hit upon certainly what happened to him personally, in and out of the business, what kind of leader was he, I think probably an area to talk about are the products themselves and the philosophy about that.
Mark: Sure,
Victor: but before we get there, one of things I want to share was that I happened to be at rehearsal that evening, what many of you don’t know is that I do acting as a hobby, and we rehearse on Wednesdays, I’m one of the directors there, the assistant musical director, but in each of the two instances where there has been news about Steve Jobs, first in the announcement that he was stepping down as CEO, and then the other one when he passed away, I happened to be in rehearsal, I happened to be leading rehearsal at that time, so it was a really interesting place to be, to have to continue on and dealing with the news I didn’t have much time to reflect except after a couple hours of knowing it and then driving home, like you, I was struck by how emotional my response was because I’m not one prone to feeling emotion in that way, not that I’m a hard hearted guy; I’m not demonstrative about it, I don’t feel it in me, I’m a lot more intellectual about it, yet I seem to have gotten emotional about it.
Mark: I just think it’s a really interesting question to ask why? I mean I have other hero’s in life and other people that I look up to and admire or whatever, and thinking of them I can’t think of any one, should they pass away, would cause me to feel the depth of emotion that I felt on hearing of Steve Jobs.
Victor: I think it came down for me to this; when he first stepped on the scene, I think I wrote this specific topic which is, you mentioned the word ‘hero’ he was certainly one of mine and I don’t have many
Mark: right
Victor: but I think the loss of that alone would necessarily cause me to be over emotional; I think that linked with the idea that I felt rudderless afterward, I felt directionless, I felt as though I lost a source of inspiration and it had me feeling lost because of it. I certainly had held a lot of the ideals that he had lived; some of the stuff I think we ought to talk about a little bit later; how he chose the direction it would go, the kind of leader and the company it became, those were the kind of lessons you could take to build a successful business not withstanding the fact that you and I work in different industries; I think that we have a similar approach in the way that we work which may be covered by the term ‘non-traditional’
Mark: sure
Victor: or against the grain of where most people tell you where to go
Mark: sure
Victor: and if we could line that up with some of the stuff that apple had done under his leadership and guidance, I was taking a lot lessons from him so to have lost that type of inspiration, affected me emotionally and quite selfishly to be quite honest because ‘now where am I going to go, where am I going to receive that source of inspiration, what’s going to happen to me?’ that’s the biggest part of the core to a lot of the grieving.
Mark: Sure, and if you want to be more crass about that, what’s going to happen to this company and this great green product that’s like a hobby or a passion how can I look forward to the next super duper great product from apple without Steve there? Unfortunately we have all kinds of reassurances that there are products in the pipeline that he had a lot to do with and he’s got this great team, he hired all those people and all that kind of thing; but I can’t help to be skeptical about the future of the company because to me, only Steve had the power, the money, the power the swing weight to say ‘I don’t care what market research says, I don’t care what the board said, I don’t care what anybody said, I believe in this thing and I’m going to do it.’
Victor: The biggest impact I think that he had in that area was not his ability to charter the direction of something to do but it was a matter of restraint in what not do; so there’s probably a lot of ideas out there that are great and I would imagine that they would still come out of apple but his real skill is saying ‘we’re not doing that now’ and he wasn’t a hundred percent successful right? There were dogs that had come out;
Mark: Lisa, The Newton
Victor: one of the ones that I loved was that he held a press event to announce a set of speakers The apple Hi-Fi; and this was going to be the answer to the Bose that were selling for three hundred bucks at the time, complete failure, the speakers they said were ok, but they never sold; they never did anything. So with not a hundred percent hit rate, still he had the ability to say ‘we’re not doing it’
Mark: I believe I read that when he came back to apple after his first hiatus, that one of the first things he did was cut down some the product items from three hundred to ten
Victor: Right
Mark: so he knew what not to do is your point
Victor: Right
Mark: I think that is a great, great ability, but sometimes I get asked by clients ‘I have this great idea to do X, whatever it is, and what do you think?’ and lets say I’m skeptical of the idea, I don’t think it’s a great idea; I tell them that, but I also add ‘ listen, if your passionate about this idea, if you have a vision and you believe in it, don’t listen to me, don’t listen to your mother or your family, wife or anybody else because nobody sees what you see; I don’t see what you see-just do it; if your passionate about it and believe in it then just do it.’ That is certainly something that I learned from jobs, it’s not like we’re talking about ancient history where nobody believed in the Macintosh, we’re talking about last year that nobody believe in the Ipad, do you remember when the Ipad came out?
Victor: nothing else then a big Iphone and its never going to sell
Mark: yes, it’s a big Iphone but it doesn’t have a phone in it its name is a feminine hygiene product, I don’t get it, what the hell are you going to do with it its not a computer its not a phone what is it? And all of that kind of stuff and what is it now, they sold fifteen million units a year and a half later?
Victor: and I just posted something, somebody asked to write a little blurb on a website its called attorney at work they wanted me to write about an experience with an Ipad and what I gave over was just how much I had used it in one week; all the different things that I had done
Mark: yes, I think my example would be, and of course everybody’s got aw different one cause everyone uses it for something different; when I go on a business trip to California or wherever, I would carry with me a bulky bag of books; like fifteen books I wanted to read and I would print out all these different articles and stuff that I could catch up with on the plane. Now I carry the Ipad and when I’m tired of reading on a five hour flight I fire up the five shows of Dr. House going back that I missed that I downloaded into my Ipad, plug in my earphones and I watch it sitting on my lap; its an incredible, incredible device incredible machine
Victor: ok, so before we get a little bit too wrapped up in the fan voice, or at least before we get too, too into it, ii wanted to ask what your journey with the products had been; why did you start and why did you make the decisions you did, why do you stay with it? Cause we both run nearly all Mac offices.
Mark: my first computer was a Kapro computer, a PC, and I bought it because William F. Buckley raved about it; this would have been very early on, and I loved the way Buckley wrote, I loved his vocabulary, loved how prolific he was about writing; he’d write newspaper columns, he’d write novels, he’d write non books, I’m always envious about those guys that can produce that kind of quantity. So I bought this computer and like everybody else who bought a computer way back when, this would have been the very early eighties, and they were crap they were difficult to use and they were funky and all this kind of stuff; I was in the newspaper business as you know and in the magazines business also, and Macs became very important in what was then called Desktop publishing, so instead of doing things like you used to, when I first started, just to show how old I am, the newspapers were put together by lead type, they were put in upside down and backwards, and the next generation was we started to use computers and the copy would be turned out on strips of paper which would then be waxed on the back and pasted up on big boards, these boards would be put in front of a big box camera and they would shoot a negative of the page and the page was then burned on a metal page and the metal plate was put on a printing press and that’s how newspapers were made
Victor: that’s so unfortunate that you could only work during the daytime cause there was no electricity back then
Mark: yea the horse and wagon couldn’t take the papers to market it was really incredibly primitive when you look at them now, and then a new thing called Desktop Publishing where you could put together all the pages on your computer and send it electronically to the printer and wow, wasn’t this great and Macs were the instrument of choice; you could really buy a few Macs and replace an entire newspaper production department. You could have your own newspaper. I used my first Macs in those contexts and I had an SE 20, and you’d probably get a lot of the fan boys to laugh by describing what exactly the technical specification were in those things, what? A 20-megabyte hard drive? I probably got more ram in my desktop calculator now then those machines had; but it was clear that these machines were superior technology right from the beginning; the things that everybody knows, the icons, the desktop, the use of the mouse, the point and click, the file folders and all of that kind of thing and I became enthusiastic about those and Victor, I think you’ve seen on my Facebook page, my firms Facebook page, I pasted my latest blog post about Steve jobs, mourning Steve jobs, and two people out of my past, two people I haven’t seen in years, and years, and years, both posted on my post that I had made them buy their first Mac;
Victor: wow, look at that
Mark: back in 1988, 89 Mark got me my first Mac, Mark made me buy my first Mac or something like that and that was kind of a neat moment for me, I felt ‘ok, yeah’ its been for me twenty two twenty three years or whatever its been; that I’ve been proselytizing and they are great, great products; so from the SE 20 I went to the bigger machines, I think the Mac 2 was my next step up and as soon as there was a notebook, a lap top available I got it and the first ones were five or six bounds each; I actually have a picture of my son he is now about to turn nineteen, at about age three sitting there with my Mac lap top typing on it ,he’s that old; and just like all the Mac aficionados whatever the new thing that came out I pretty much bought it. How about you?
Victor: I think I’d been into computer for a while, I forgot what my first one was; it wasn’t Mac, it was something else programming or designing programs that relied on floppy to get them going a lot of games were text based back in those days, when I got to college I had the opportunity to purchase a computer and I think it was required that I got one and I had the choice, I could go with a PC or a Mac; I don’t know that at the time then it was as strange to get a Mac I think it probably about fifty, fifty, in terms of number of people and what they were getting; basically there wasn’t much difference between them, and nobody had stratified that market
Mark: for people who don’t know how old you are, that would be what years?
Victor: I was just starting college in nineteen ninety three
Mark: I was going to say right around there
Victor: I bought one and then bought a second just as I was leaving because it wasn’t going to be working for what I needed it to do, it needed some kind of upgrade; I want to say it was some kind of color
Mark: yes, I was going to say that was the next big leap forward was the Imac
Victor: no, no, no, not the color of the actual device, the display color
Mark: the color monitor
Victor: yes, we could do a color monitor we had an eight bit color on there; fantastic. I was using it for school just in case my parents are listening and I was also using it for gaming cause it was one of the first ones that could do this peer to peer network and you were able to, and this thing was famous, this game called Marathon, basically capture the flag type game, or you could respawn and just continue to play or enter a room and play with other people but it was one of the first versions of computing that went to peer to peer and in fact in was a long while before we were able to do that again even with a Mac and I used that but when I got into work, gotten my first job, I moved over to a PC, it was about the same time that Steve Jobs left apple for the first time, so I left when he left in part because the products weren’t as good, not to say that I knew that at the time, maybe I did, I’m not sure, but I was in the workforce and they were basically going with PC’s and I stayed there a good three, four, maybe even five years before I came back, nineteen ninety seven through two thousand and two or so. During that time, I was quite proficient in building my own computers, fixing my own computers, I was certainly the IT person within the family, I would fix and build their computers as well, and I came back when it looked like I was going to open up my own firm, and it was time I kind of set up computers again and I my research and if I bought one of these, I wouldn’t need an IT person I’m just cheap enough to not want an IT person I’d be the IT person and that’s how I sort of came back to it from the position of not really being sure that I needed too. I bought laptops, they were small and my experience with it was like many people, it became very magical I’ve got to get back on this again just as a business perspective, to have the company running on that platform; so certainly I haven’t spent any money on dedicated IT people sorry on that field and I’ve been able to keep things up and running with very little maintenance and what I invest in new technology; they’re bored with the stuff that I have or it has fallen so out of date that I can’t keep the rest of the office moving, but its never cause its broken. I’ve got computers in here that are still almost eight years old and I use the eight year old ones cause we got them;
Mark: right, but still I would suggest that whether or not your parents are listening your being a little bit disingenuous here because the reason you update is not necessarily a business reason or you got bored its that there is this new thing and you’ve got new product lust
Victor: oh is that what it is?
Mark: yes, yes
Victor: see, that’s not giving me fair credit Mark because
Mark: if there’s a new Mac thing, you cannot go a month without constantly whining about how you need it, you need the new upgrade
Victor: well if I had a marketing consulting a firm,
Mark: could make a lot of money
Victor: could make a lot of money for the firm to the point where I could just spend it on apple products perhaps you wouldn’t have to hear
Mark: Apple Jones that’s who you are
Victor: I know you don’t want to be an enabler in that sense;
Mark: no, no,
Victor: you don’t want to be responsible for my decent into just drooling there
Mark: I don’t want to share with the audience that I talked to you when you spent three hours hovering around an apple store just gazing at the newest piece of shiny metal that you want; you would never do a thing like that
Victor: you’re not giving me credit Mark because, and I haven’t talked about this on the podcast but I run a conference from Mac’s using attorney’s its important for me to be up on the latest things, my attendee’s expect it don’t you think?
Mark: its like a heroin addicts saying he’s starting to hold a drug conference he’s going to need to study the latest drug to really be an authority
Victor: that’s funny; so I do get the new products, I will tell you that the one thing that I did which is interesting for me is that I bought the original Iphone; actually about four or five months after it was released so I skipped the whole debacle of over paying for it with the credit for the double storage, I bought it when they doubled the storage so I got a sixteen gigabyte I think Iphone one that I stuck with until they release the Iphone four not this past June but the June before and I stayed with it the whole while and the phone was still working; I got all of the free upgrades that everybody else did on the operating system
Mark: right
Victor: so that was interesting to me that could remain relevant there but I did get all the upgrades like everyone else. When the Ipad came out I was fortunate to get an Ipad two when that come out, a gift from a thankful friend. I’m on top of this stuff and I enjoy that and there’s something about it that I like, I like the products, I like to hold them, I like to use them
Mark: just out of curiosity, does your wife buy that whole conference thing? Honey I have to get this latest new toy because I sponsor a conference once a year and I need to be up on the technology does she go for that?
Victor: Here’s what I think; she pretends to go for that; I give her more credit then actually falling for it; she’ll nod and smile and let me think I’ve gotten one over on her
Mark: she knows to whom she is married
Victor: oh yea, that’s for sure she knew exactly what she was getting herself into
Mark: okay, let me jump off in another direction here and back a little bit; well, wait, before we finish the progression of products, was nineteen ninety eight or so, big for you in the sense it was for me and the sense of getting the IMac?
Victor: no, I was away from the apple at that point in time I saw it come and go it looked fun, and when I reentered, I entered I law school in nineteen ninety nine and when I did, there were a number of people that had been cool people that were sporting Macs, I was not. Not only did I miss out on the IMac, I missed out on the candy shell
Mark: the candy colored thing too.
Victor: and also when they had it for the laptop what wad that called?
Mark: the Clamshell?
Victor: yes exactly, I missed out on that one too
Mark: I got candy colored one for my son for Christmas one year or something like that, and in a way, the beginning of our online life. Not totally for me, because I’d worked at a computer company before and we had used email and we used the Internet, but not the World Wide Web it wasn’t there yet. The IMac was the start of, do you remember; I don’t think I can imitate those sounds that the modem would make when you tried to sign on over the telephone that whole thing? I’ve looked my history of buying on Amazon.com stuff like that and it dates back to nineteen ninety eight or so when I first got the IMac.
Victor: Speaking of resistance to his products, remember how people said;’what there’s no floppy drives? Crap’ I think that’s the perfect launch off point in terms of the leadership stuff; I think that some of the things that have been interesting along the way and for me admirable, in terms of his leadership has been his willingness to charter new direction for instance, no floppy drive;
Mark: he buried the floppy drive
Victor: yes and most recently in terms of some of the laptops that he has been producing and the now Mac mini bearing the CD Rom drive
Mark: and you could say, you could argue that he buried commercial CD’s, music CD’s
Victor: now there was a very strong business reason for that, I’m not sure that he took the consumers point of view; I think in his world when you can afford an apple and afford to live in that world and actually pay for your music, then digital what do you care your going to pay for anything legitimately and you can just download whatever you want I don’t know the last time I bought a CD how about you, when’s the last time you bought a physical CD?
Mark: Never; a long, long time ago, I’ve got hundreds of them lying around the house; what’s the point? I think a lot of people feel the same way; I don’t necessarily, but a lot of people fell the same way about your basic hard cover book; why buy it now, I download it to my reader; don’t need to print it.
Victor: By the way, Steve Levine had a post on Huffington post about six reasons why an e-reader is superior to books and he and went through them and now, he like you, has a copy of everything he needs would he decide to bring along one of the big heavy ones when he was going on a trip? No, and now did he really think it was kind of neat, invaluable that he was able to turn to exactly what he wanted when he wanted and it was all there, yea, he thought it was fantastic
Mark: its wonderful, its marvelous, I love this quote from Steve jobs that I heard pretty recently, it wasn’t one I knew from a long time ago ‘it’s not your customers job to know what they need’ is that a great quote or what it just blew my mind. The limits of market research is something that really fascinates me; I remember reading years ago about Tom Clancy’s book The Hunt For Red October, and The Hunt for Red October was originally published by the Naval University Press of the US Naval Academy. The reason was no commercial publisher would touch it; and the reason was all their market research told them that it wouldn’t fly, that men don’t buy books, that books that are primarily about technology nobody cares about, that the Soviet Union was going away anyways etcetera, etcetera, they had all kinds of research that said this book wouldn’t sell; except it did, the Naval university press published it and it sold about fifty thousand copies and then those commercial publishers came back and said ‘hey, how bout if we buy that little title from you?’ that kind of thing, and then I saw that program, maybe we discussed it on the podcast before, where they were interviewing all these people that had worked with Steve Jobs on the Macintosh product and this and that, and the interviewer mentioned something about market research or something and one of the Mac executives started laughing and he said our market research was Steve’s left brain is wired to his right brain; that’s all the market research there was if Steve Jobs thinks this is a great product then it is. The market can only tell you about what it has already seen; it can’t tell you about its need for, desire for, something it hasn’t imagined yet or hasn’t seen and I take that as the essence of Jobs’ quote, its not your customers job to know what the need they don’t know. They haven’t seen it, they haven’t imagined it, how could they know?
Victor: I think that’s perfect I think that’s right, we’ve discussed that topic before, I think it’s very appropriate for attorneys to hear because a lot of the discussion now is probably centered on a few things, one of which is the drive towards the commodition of the practice of law, the markets demanding that you un-bundle, the markets demanding that you work virtually that you drive prices down, and I always see that as a failing of the industry to provide an alternative to show what’s possible, I wouldn’t say it’s a failing cause I’m doing fine, doing that and so are other lawyers; you and I have discussed before the analogy in the airline industry
Mark: yes
Victor: all that the airlines seem to understand based on what the market research is telling them is that people want plane tickets for the lowest price
Mark: for the lowest possible price
Victor: price to purchase, the initial price
Mark: and that’s the only basis on which they’ll buy because nobody’s presenting them with an alternative a better alternative. That’s one of the things about Steve jobs is they’ll sit there and say ‘jeez, too bad Steve Jobs doesn’t run the airlines, too bad Steve jobs isn’t solving this foreclosure, this credit problem’ or something like that. I really believe he could fix any of those things; he was that bright and he was that capable. What do you think victor, I’m curious, in your opinion as to the source of the emotion the grief that people feel, I just cannot that any other businessman in the world, as I said earlier, would get one million people posting on the website their grief.
Victor: what’s interesting is, and I want to hear back from you too, what’s interesting is that it seems to be centered around people from my generation; and its not to say its theirs exclusively but what happens is that we’re watching someone who is our near contemporary or at least he was coming up when we were thinking about coming up and doing things that looked like they were fun and interesting, specifically geeks.
Mark: right
Victor: and then what ended up happening is that over time, the geek guy became mainstream.
Mark: right
Victor: not mainstream in a sellout way but now the cool kids are also using Ipods, they’re all wearing the white headphones, they’re all prepared to use it in a regular course of what they do during the day and so then he started to touch them as well and that’s I think is a lot of the source that is he became somebody that’s very identifiable not necessarily from a leadership standpoint the bulk of the people really didn’t look at the aspect of it; I think they looked at the keynotes that came out, the products that came out a lot of people in my generation created avenues for their careers.
Mark: and I think he redefined in a lot of ways what our image, our idea is of a businessman right? I think most of the people especially from my generation, if you said businessman, they imagine a mad man, to use the image from the TV show. A guy in a suit and tie, and a white shirt and sits in office and does stuff at his desk
Victor: you mean AMC Madman? I’m sitting here seeing Charles Manson really is that what they’re seeing? The crazy eyes?
Mark: Yes, AMC Madman. A straight-laced conventional figure; and here’s Steve Jobs, and somebody wrote the other day, in his jeans and his black turtleneck and his sneakers, what did they call him? A pot smoking, Obama voting Buddhist; he’s not the first image that comes to mind when you think businessman but he was a brilliant businessman. I also think that the personal quality of the grief, the flowers outside the apple stores, the notes, the post it notes that people put in the windows and all of that is so remarkable to me.
Victor: Well, and the other thing that’s interesting about that, which doesn’t discount the activity, I think helps support some of the explanation for it; to the extent that people saw the prior generations grief, whether that was John Lennon, whether that was JFK, whether that was a charismatic leader that felt that their message resonated with the people that way. Are there many of those other Steve Jobs now? And really that was their opportunity to express that type of community; they were part of a group that could grieve that loss together because of the way they cared.
Mark: I was trying to think of who else could evoke that kind of grief in the world or who could evoke that kind of grief in me; I felt a great deal of grief when John Updyke died; a writer who I thought and still think was the most wonderful of our time; and I know I would feel bad if someone like Gabriella Garcia Marquez passed away but I can’t think of anyone in the world of business or anything like that could come anywhere close to this outpouring of grief that people felt, this personal connection that they felt with him and with his products and I think its astonishing. I got a couple of things that I want to read here I thought this was incredible this is Masayoshi Son, CEO of SOFTBANK, was in the apple offices apparently the day before Steve Died and he said ‘ I visited apple for the announcement of the Iphone 4S at apple headquarters in Cupertino California, I was in a meeting with Tim Cook and he said Oh Masa, sorry I have to cut quit our meeting and I said where are you going? And he said my boss is calling; that was the day of the announcement for the Iphone 4S and Steve was calling him because he wanted to talk about their next product and the next day, jobs was dead.’ So this is a guy, up and to the last minute was still innovating, still working, still trying to make something wonderful happen.
Victor: So let me ask you, how do you resolve somebody’s reaction to workaholic? I don’t agree but is it a matter of his passion for what he did?
Mark: I think most of t he people who make great impacts are some kind of fanatic; its pretty unhealthy in some ways. Somebody said of the chessmaster Bobby Fischer, if he’d been born next to a swimming pool he would have been a swimming champion but he wasn’t, somebody gave him a chess board when he was six. I think it takes a certain kind of monomania to be really, really great at something; I’m sure there’s all kinds of psychologists out there that would say it’s an unhealthy life and this and that and they might be right for all I know but I think these men who devote all of their being, all of their passion to one thing those men are our champions, they advance us to places that we could not go without their sacrifice.
Victor: And what’s interesting I think is sort of the time and place that he came around; certainly I would agree with you; had Steve Jobs’ dedicated his passion to something else, then it would have been successful in that he came at a time where the passion made sense for him to be in computers; that’s what they were doing, that’s when he had the opportunity to build with a friend in the garage and that what was in front of him as the activity. In many ways, like music or civil rights might have been in the sixties in terms of the things were before the people. So if you look at what someone could dedicate themselves too how they could entrench them selves in a population, that’s what available; there are others that are out there, people familiar Bill Gates from Microsoft; but I think very few people would be familiar with whoever started HP Bob Hewlett or something along those lines where they might be known in the b world but they’re not going to be known in the general population
Mark: and something I think we should know, and God forbid, I don’t want it to happen, but if Bill Gates died tomorrow, or had been the one to die, I don’t think there would be nearly this out pouring of grief that there is for Steve Jobs; and I think the question of why that is true is very, very interesting, why did he touch us on such an emotional level? I don’t know if you know that today Victor, they closed the apple stores worldwide for three hours and apparently beamed in a ceremony that was held at apple for the employees and I’ve seen some aerial shots if the apple headquarters in Cupertino with the entire campus was filled with employees outside doing a service
Victor: and they did more then that; they put sheets up and this was for certain that this was private all the stores were closed
Mark: it was shrouded
Victor: right, they didn’t let anyone else take a look at what they were doing
Mark: no, and the governor of California has declared Sunday to be Steve Jobs Day; he and jerry Brown had some things in common actually, I found that interesting to and again I simply cannot imagine that the death of any other business person, any other non-politician who wasn’t the head of state of something like that would occasion this kind of grieving and this kind of respect.
Victor: yes
Mark: definitely just a unique figure in our time because everything to me is a marketing prop;
Victor: a hammer and nails situation
Mark: yes hammer and nails situation I find the marketing of apple products to be fascinating as well. I am always preaching Victor as you know, the importance of image, the importance of visually communicating who you are as a lawyer, what your office is about and all of that and people don’t have X-ray vision they take their clues visually
Victor: and you might remember Mark, that’s how we got formally introduced
Mark: I don’t remember that
Victor: So we had been on the same list serve for six or eight months or so, trading emails back and forth, we got into a couple of discussions but nothing of real consequence, and then I was running the first Milofest conference as I mentioned before, it’s the conference for Mac using attorney’s, the idea was that I didn’t want it to be directly related to tech, I didn’t want sixteen tech sessions, and so from the beginning, I was trying to bring in interesting sessions. One of the interesting things that I thought could be related back to the Mac was this issue of branding and I asked you to come and speak on that issue;
Mark: I do remember the presentation
Victor: that was the context it was branding and how it was related to apple
Mark: yes and Steve Jobs just instinctively understood that the design of these things was just as important as the technology or almost as important; and then he carried that beyond that to the marketing of the thing; the big brother ads that played at the Superbowl, the silhouettes wearing earplugs from the Ipod, the I’m a PC, I’m a Mac the ads to here’s to the ones who think Different, the geniuses and so on, every one of those seemed to me, funny to say I’m having Goosebumps talking about it right now that’s how funny it is, I can literally feel it on my flesh; its brilliant, brilliant work. The image that he gave his company was so brilliant. The other thing was the opposite of hyping a product how he would do the complete opposite
Victor: What do you mean?
Mark: well, in other words ‘you want to know about our upcoming product? We won’t tell you; we won’t tell you anything about it’ it’s all shrouded in secrecy.
Victor: oh, I see what you mean
Mark: yes I’m not sure what other product could do that ‘sure we’ll tell you all about it, it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread wait until you see it’ a movie that’s coming out will be hyped to death; and his is sort of, nope its in the vault you’ll know about it when I announce it to you.
Victor: Another thing that I find interesting too that is related is that too is that they wouldn’t announce something until it was done; I can’t think of a thing that they’d announced that didn’t ship and that’s a big concept, that is something that Seth Godin talks about and some other people that there’s something important about shipping.
Mark: yes, you have to ship
Victor: you have to ship
Mark: why don’t we briefly explain that to anybody who’s not familiar with that concept;
Victor: ok, I’ll give you some of the background of some of the notorious of not shipping; there was a video game called Duke Nukem’ that was released, very, very successful; it was a first person shooter, you’d walk around, walk down hallways, you’d find bad people to fight, you’d find different guns so it was really fun to play. It was so successful they had ordered a sequel the company made tons of money. I want to say that it took them thirteen years to finally ship the sequel because it was never done, it was never good enough, it was never right, the technology would change they would have to start rewriting over and so when people talk about this concept of shipping they usually use the negative, something that never shipped and so there’s the paralysis that’s involved to make sure something’s perfect before shipping it out the door.
Mark: and that you have to get it out the door and start working on the sequel whatever it is; you can’t constantly be in development with a product or with an idea. The newspaper business was great training for that in my view; you’d be working on your story and at six o’clock, the newspaper’s going, whether or not your ready, whether or not your story’s ready the next day’s paper is coming in; you had to be aware that each time what you were doing was the next draft of history. I think Jobs did products like that, there’d be the Iphone, there’d be five more versions of the Iphone that would succeed it in pretty rapid fashion but if he’d waited, there’d be no Iphone five; if he’d waited to do Iphone five we’d still be waiting. He was a perfectionist but he also believed it had to ship.
Victor: Absolutely, things came out the door, and they were good when they came out, they weren’t the best and there were constant refinements, I see that if we can bring that back to lessons for lawyers, I see that in my practice all the time. We have some processing’s that are established, we have some that are in development and all of them are under review for improvement and I think there’s always an opportunity to do something better and more, but I can’t say that we ever stopped doing something simply because we haven’t found the perfect way of getting it out the door.
Mark: Right, I don’t know how we’re doing on time Victor, but what do you think about the future of apple? I’ve sort of expressed my fears which is that only Steve Jobs had the brilliance, had the power and the weight to operate in the unconventional style in which he operates, I mean I can’t imagine that Tim Cook or any future CEO will ever have that kind of pull; he’ll have to listen to the board, he’ll have to listen to the departments on market research, he’ll have to do all of those things because he won’t be Steve Jobs.
Victor: It’s interesting; I think what’s happened since stepping down or as part of their succession plan, we’d have to give some credit to apple’s success in the past five years maybe a little bit more, but certainly within the last five or six years to the addition of Tim Cook to the team because from an operational standpoint they became ruthlessly efficient both in the ability to secure the products that they needed in order to build the stuff that they wanted also making sure that someone could get a product from start to finish without running the normal risks of having tons inventory that are normally associated with an assembly line products such as computers.
Mark: Right
Victor: From that prospective, I think there’s a lot of credit into their overall success but I agree with you, and I define it a little differently in terms of the power and the brilliance as you talked it, I think that part of the danger to the future of the company has to do with the esthetic taste that is gone from the top; somebody who’s able to say we’re going in that direction, this button is wrong, that black is not dark enough, there’s a yellow that’s wrong, somebody that has that much attention that has to necessarily get to get passed on to somebody else who probably doesn’t have either as fanatical attention to detail or as good inherent taste as Steve Jobs had. There’s that issue and they certainly divested some of the power amongst the regular corporate hierarchy; you’ve got Forstall in there and he’s going to be doing something in terms of product development, you’ve got Johnny Ive there still doing the design, and Tim Cook has reserved the operations for what he does; and you even saw that in the most recent announcement; the CEO took the stage to talk about the numbers when they announced the i4s, when they talked about the products, he handed to over to the people that were going to be doing the products. What will be interesting is that Steve Jobs has probably imparted his wisdom on the next seven things that they’re doing
Mark: right and after that
Victor: after that it’s a risk; after that we will see the quality of the judgment; but unlike in the first time that Steve Jobs was shone the door in ninety seven, he had no opportunity to groom successors or to need to groom successors; so it would be interesting to see, and I would be interested to read the biography that’s going to be coming out that he contributed to. How much time and effort did he put into training these people to think the way he thought? and I’m not saying he put a hundred percent of it arrived there but I’m sure he put some of that effort in
Mark: and that certainly makes sense certainly is a cause for hope but I want to know who’s the guy who says when he’s presented with this Ipad thing, that everyone else says well, I don’t know it’s a big Iphone, its not really a phone, its not really a computer, What is it? Who’s the guy who says ‘I don’t care, I’m doing it anyway’
Victor: I think they’re there, I disagree with you, I think they’ve been trained that way they’ve seen the success of doing that and they may be wrong more then Steve Jobs was wrong because they may not have the same quality of taste in doing that type or making that decision successfully but I think they certainly have been taught the value of that decision because the company has flourished under that type of decision. The problem was, in nineteen ninety seven when they floundered, was not that they didn’t have somebody who wasn’t necessarily a leader, that was part of the problem, because they had instead was someone in there, people running in there that followed the market and took that as a lesson stratifying and diversifying your product base; sell three hundred versions of something cause that’s what IBM was doing, they had that team in place, I don’t think they have that team in place anymore.
Mark: well, to me, apple was this big huge company, and let us takes our hat off in tribute to say that although he had to share, earlier this year, it was the single most valuable company in the world; I think it runs neck n neck with Exxon Mobile
Victor: sure
Mark: and that’s an incredible accomplishment this guy started this business in his garage
Victor: within this generation, I mean IBM
Mark: Right, but he ran it as an entrepreneurial company, his entrepreneurial company even though it was a public company in the product sense, he ran it as an entrepreneurial company, I just don’t see how that goes on without him I really don’t. I may be wrong, I hope I’m wrong because you know how much I love the products and I’m enthusiastic about them; but as a business person, I just don’t see it.
Victor: well what will be interesting to see how things come down how do they match in terms of prior activity; will things continue to be ittera in terms with the occasional thing of brilliance, like they did with the Ipod? The Ipod has been around for a very long time, how we got to the different variations of the Ipod, they all became ittera, and then we have moments of brilliance with the Iphone, we all had moments ourselves with the Ipad and even laptops became ittera; the quality of the materials is going to be different, we’re now moving to a unibody aluminum system; we’re all building on prior stuff; what will be interesting is what’s going to be the next category if there’s going to be one.
Mark: its not the latest version of Iphone, when the Iphone was introduced, it wasn’t like this is the newest smartphone; there were no other smartphones and when the Ipad was introduced, it wasn’t like this is the latest table, there were on other tablets, he invented tablets.
Victor: well, there were smartphones, but they weren’t very good, there was the Treyo and people were using stuff that came close but he did take that category and said I’m not going in that direction; one of the things that he did I thought was most interesting is he said I don’t need an input device.
Mark: right, I had a Treyo, and I had a Blackberry and it’s a different species when Steve Jobs would touch it.
Victor: it still is to me; I think there are very few things and I’ve dealt with other products and Android products they don’t run as smoothly, there is a connection with the device with those things. I think that’s why it takes so long in what they’re doing; I think that element has to be just perfect before they let it go out, the feel of it needs to be right. There was a great discussion lately about the size of the Ipod screen; and people were taking about three and a half inches, three and a half inches, that’s not big enough we think that the next Ipod screen is going to be five inches they’re really going to blow it out, its going to be like a mini TV in there. And then there’s a brief discussion of it where somebody said ‘take the size of your thumb and hold one in your hand and tell me if you can cover the same screen real estate in something that’s three and a half inches versus something that is five inches’ now it may bump up slightly larger then what it is, but realize that they are never going to stop making this a device that you can comfortably use with one hand and it probably was a design element from day one.
Mark: Human Scale
Victor: Yes
Mark: I think that probably coming up against time constraints now,
Victor: what percentage of our listeners made it with us the whole way?
Mark: the Mac fans probably; so we know what audience we’re speaking to anyway. So to that audience I just want to pay tribute to an American original who started this business in his garage; a business that nobody even know was a business and to the world’s most valuable company and who caused people like me unending pleasure and admiration throughout his life. I will miss him greatly and continue to learn from him even as he leaves the scene.
Victor: Well said and I won’t add anything else, this has been SmartTalk with Victor and Mark thanks for listening to this special addition talking about Steve Jobs. Join us on our next podcast.

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One Response to Episode 19

  1. Dan says:

    Are you guys done mourning? Time for a new episode.

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