I was listening to an interview with Peter Sims on Think, hosted by Krys Boyd. (You can listen to the interview here). Sims is the author of Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries. The discussion moved into a conversation about the brilliance of Steve Jobs. Specifically, just how does Apple decide to go forward with a specific design? Is it a group decision, based on extensive market research, focus groups, testing in the marketplace? Not quite: Here’s what he said:
It’s “The Steve Jobs factor…The person who makes those decisions …is Jobs. He’s the market – not users. He’s the market of one, in the case of Apple…”
It reminded me of that brilliant scene about another market of one. This time the brilliant decision maker is the fictional Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. I could not find a clip of the scene, but here are the words from the script:
There’s a scale. One nod is good. Two nods is very good.
There’s only been one actual smile on record, and that was Tom Ford in 2001.
She doesn’t like it, she shakes her head.
Then, of course, there’s the pursing of the lips.
So because she pursed her lips, he’s gonna change his entire collection?
You still don’t get it, do you?
Her opinion is the only one that matters.
And here is the business takeaway.
Well, there may not actually be a business take-away.
For most of us mere mortals, we are not smart enough to know just what the market wants. But, there are a handful of absolute geniuses; geniuses who seem to know exactly what people want. So, maybe the takeaway is this… Identify those geniuses, listen to them, watch them, pay very close attention — and then, go and do likewise.
You can read a review of Little Bets by Sims, written by Bob Morris, here.
“We lead by being human. We do not lead by being corporate, professional, or institutional.” (Paul G. Hawken, founder, Smith and Hawken)
James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner, Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others
More profoundly than just getting things done, strong connections with others represent a value unto themselves. Relationships lie at the heart of who we are as humans; they give our lives meaning and significance.
Dov Seidman, how: Why HOW we Do Anything Means Everything…In Business (and in Life)
On a drive to a client’s last Thursday, I listened with rapt attention to a great hour on Think, the local NPR program (KERA – 90.1), hosted by Krys Boyd. Krys is a terrific, always thoroughly prepared interviewer, and her guests on Thursday were a Pulitzer and Tony winning playwright, and his high school drama teacher. Here’s the paragraph on Think’s web site:
What makes a writer a writer, and how can a great teacher influence the arc of a writer’s career? We’ll spend this hour with playwright, author, screenwriter, actor, director Doug Wright and Linda Raya, the Highland Park High School Fine Arts director and theatre teacher who instructed Doug when he was a student at the school. Doug Wright will deliver the keynote address at this weekend’s 15th annual Highland Park Literary Festival.
During the interview, this paragraph absolutely gripped me (I transcribed this from the audio):
Art (should be perceived as) a serious subject. I’m very fond of saying that Art, and Drama in particular, is the one discipline that teaches empathy… Because if you’ve got a kid in Anne Frank, then they’re learning what it was like to be Jewish during World War II. Drama is all about slipping into someone’s shoes, and walking their walk…by studying plays and acting in them we learn tolerance.
And the emphasis in schools (athletics): we teach competition; we teach competition really, really well. But we don’t always teach empathy and tolerance. And I think that’s what these disciplines foster. And I think it is shocking and disturbing that they’re the first to meet the chopping block when legislators are looking at the state budget.
I have read a lot of business books over the years, and there is little shortage of discussion of concepts such as “winning,” competition,” “beating the competition,” “being first.”
But this interview reminded me that there is another, I think better, side to this whole endeavor – let’s call it the “human side.” And in the heart of this side is empathy – walking in another’s shoes. Doug Wright reminds us of the simple fact that all business leadership, all business management, all business endeavor begin (and end) with human beings.
Starting by being human might be the best business (and life) counsel of all.
What do Americans Really Want? – One thing that they want is success, without paying for it…
I’m working my way through the new Frank Luntz book, What Americans Really Want…Really. It is my selection for this Friday at the First Friday Book Synopsis. I heard him interviewed on the Krys Boyd Think program on KERA (NPR in Dallas—listen to the interview here), and she described it this way to Mr. Luntz: “Your book concludes that we are a nation of well-meaning hypocrites.” Luntz agreed, admitting that we want small government, lower taxes – but better government services. (See my earlier post, To be Rich without Being Greedy — What Americans Really Want…Really by Frank Luntz about this book to see another example of this of this “hypocrisy” – or, at the least, inconsistency).
The book has much to offer as we think about success in business and in life. Here’s an excerpt:
You can learn a lot from listening to accomplished individuals talk about their craft… Among the most memorable conversations of my career was one with Jason Kidd, one of the great basketball point guards – not just of our time, but of all time. He had three simple words to explain the success on the court: “read, react, execute.” Read the basketball court not just as it looks at that instant but as it will look a split second later; react to the opportunities in front of you as they develop; and execute so that those opportunities are realized.
Read — react — execute. There’s Ram Charan’s Execution in three words…
If you are in our area, come join us. We meet this Friday, 7:00 am. Register here.