Steve Jobs

What We Can Learn From Steve Jobs

As many of you probably heard, Steve Jobs resigned last week from Apple.  Sort of a weird topic for this website, I know.  I was saddened by this announcement as I think we all know what this may mean.  However, this is a time to reflect, to thank someone that has contributed to our society while we still can, and most importantly – to learn from him.

Steve Jobs


A few months I ago I wrote a post on what we can all learn from a barber shop.  I really liked that post and received a lot of good feedback.  On that theme, there are many things we can all learn from Steve Jobs as well.


What We Can All Learn From Steve Jobs

I have always proudly said I am a “Windows guy.”  I like Microsoft, I like Windows 7, heck I even liked Windows Vista.  But Apple has just made them look silly in the last several years.  I still like Microsoft, but I sort of feel bad for them, sort of like we probably all feel for poor Blackberry.  Over the last year and a half I slowly entered the realm of the iPad, iPhone, and now officially the Mac, completely abandoning my old Windows laptops.

Why?  Well, two reasons:

  1. Simple put, they are exceptional products that are way ahead of the competition
  2. Their dedication to customer support and loyalty is truly inspiring

This is where we can really learn from Steve Jobs.  Let me explain these two reasons with a couple of stories.


Exceptional and Trendsetting Products

A friend of mine emailed me an article about Steve Jobs a few weeks ago, ironically (Thanks GW!).  It was a great article that I really impressed me.  Basically, what Steve Jobs and Apple have done in the last decade or so was so far ahead of everyone else that it really intrigues me.  While PC makers were copying one another and making products that their customers were asking for, Apple was designing products that we never even knew existed, but once invented couldn’t live without.

Here are some great quotes.  The first one is actually from Wayne Gretsky, but Jobs has used it many times:

[quote]Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.[/quote]


Here is another from BusinessWeek in 1998:

[quote]It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.[/quote]


And finally, a quote from Henry Ford that Jobs was also fond of:

[quote]If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.[/quote]


Dedication to Customer Loyalty

A few weeks ago, I woke up early to grab a cup of coffee.  I also had to buy something at the Apple store, but it didn’t open for another hour and a half.  So I thought I would just hang out and read the paper (on my iPad of course!) while I drank my coffee and wait for the store to open.

Well, I walked by and notice some of those blue shirt people inside, so I walked in.  As the first person enthusiastically welcomed me, I asked “hey are you guys open yet?”  His response actually floored me…  he said “nope, but we’re here so COME ON IN!”  I spent the next hour and several dollars later drinking my coffee with the guy and playing on my new Macbook Air.  Amazing.

Funny enough, now that I am sold on Apple.  I needed to get my wife going on an iPhone this summer (I know we were late to the party…).  We had to upgrade her cell plan on Verizon before we could buy the iPhone and transfer her number.  We went to Verizon to change our plan and the guy in the store asked if we wanted to just buy the iPhone from him at Verizon.

We gladly said no, walked to the other end of the mall, and bought it at the Apple store.  Why?  We spent almost two hours in there setting the thing up, transferring all her stuff, and then showing her how to use the thing.  All the time with extreme enthusiasm shared by both the employee and my wife.


So what is the take home here for us?

It is great to learn from others, to follow the leader so to say.  But there is also something to be said about being the trendsetter.  If you are opening a new PT clinic or fitness center, do you want to copy the competitors and be just another person on the block, or do you want to innovate and give the public what they NEED, not what they WANT, or to say even better, what the THINK they want.

Buying an Apple product is an event.  People love just opening the boxes!  They are that cool.  That, my friend, is not just buying a product, that is buying an experience.  Apple is happy with their smaller percentage of the computer market, because that percentage is extremely loyal.  Make every interaction with your clients and patients an experience and they will be extremely devoted to your system.

There is also a take home for the business owners too.  Apple employees are “Apple people.”  They live and breath the product and are extremely loyal to it, just like they want their customers to be.  They aren’t just anyone off the street that needs a paycheck, these people love what they do because they love the product themselves.  Remember that when you start to hire and develop employees.  Make your employees believe in your system and their loyalty and enthusiasm will be contagious to your clients and patients.

Lastly, I wanted to end with this video of Steve Jobs’ Commencment Address at Sanford University.  It is a great speach and definitely motivating, particularly his message about loving what you do at around the 8:20 mark and his third story that makes this all very sad.

Thanks Steve Jobs, you’ve given us a lot to learn from.  We wish you well.

3 replies
  1. Joe Brence
    Joe Brence says:

    Great article Mike. I am also a huge fan of Steve Jobs and his innovative mind (both at Apple and Pixar). I whole-heartedly agree that we must give patients what they need, but we can’t ignore the effects of expectation on outcomes, and sometimes must mix in “what they think they want”. I think we can learn alot from “the return of Jobs to Apple in mid-90’s…” Restructure and reorganize; sell only a couple of products but sell them very well; don’t copy the competition. We need more excitement in the PT community—I often feel that our professional organizations are too passive, drab, and outdated.

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