Very nice landing page for the new CEO announcement. Very classy. HTML5. Will not do justice if I describe it in words. Go see it -> [link]
Yeah, you know who I am talking about. Steve Jobs. I was reading the blog of Don Melton (who led the first Safari development team), where he describes the feeling of being in the audience of rehearsals of the ‘master presenter’.
Most of the time during those rehearsals, Ken and I had nothing to do except sit in the then empty audience and watch The Master Presenter at work — crafting his keynote. What a privilege to be a spectator during that process. At Apple, we were actually all students, not just spectators. When I see other companies clumsily announce products these days, I realize again how much the rest of the world lost now that Steve is gone.
And then there was also a link to the 2003 macworld keynote where Steve released Safari. I liked the way he demo’d Safari. It was typical Steve. Superlative adjectives. Practised fluency. But, what came next was what blew my mind. Steve also announces Keynote on the same presentation. My rough transcription:
The folks at apple created Keynote for me. I needed something that I can use to create these keynote presentations for you. Very graphic intensive. Powerful. Something that you want to use to create meaningful presentations. Now, <pause>, I want to share it with you. <applause>
This has been in the works for over a year now. For a year, we hired a very lowly paid beta tester, who tested it for a whole year. <screen shows Steve Job’s picture> <applause>. I have used Keynote for every keynote that I showed you in 2002.
I think that is just amazing. A CEO who not only demos, but also beta tested a product for a whole year. And not in his own private tasks, but for a very public demonstration. Amazing.
An incident narrated by Vic Gundotra about Steve Jobs. Beautiful and touching.
One Sunday morning, January 6th, 2008 I was attending religious services when my cell phone vibrated. As discreetly as possible, I checked the phone and noticed that my phone said “Caller ID unknown”. I choose to ignore.
After services, as I was walking to my car with my family, I checked my cell phone messages. The message left was from Steve Jobs. “Vic, can you call me at home? I have something urgent to discuss” it said.
Before I even reached my car, I called Steve Jobs back. I was responsible for all mobile applications at Google, and in that role, had regular dealings with Steve. It was one of the perks of the job.
“Hey Steve – this is Vic”, I said. “I’m sorry I didn’t answer your call earlier. I was in religious services, and the caller ID said unknown, so I didn’t pick up”.
Steve laughed. He said, “Vic, unless the Caller ID said ‘GOD’, you should never pick up during services”.
I laughed nervously. After all, while it was customary for Steve to call during the week upset about something, it was unusual for him to call me on Sunday and ask me to call his home. I wondered what was so important?
“So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I’ve already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow” said Steve.
“I’ve been looking at the Google logo on the iPhone and I’m not happy with the icon. The second O in Google doesn’t have the right yellow gradient. It’s just wrong and I’m going to have Greg fix it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?”
Of course this was okay with me. A few minutes later on that Sunday I received an email from Steve with the subject “Icon Ambulance”. The email directed me to work with Greg Christie to fix the icon.
Since I was 11 years old and fell in love with an Apple II, I have dozens of stories to tell about Apple products. They have been a part of my life for decades. Even when I worked for 15 years for Bill Gates at Microsoft, I had a huge admiration for Steve and what Apple had produced.
But in the end, when I think about leadership, passion and attention to detail, I think back to the call I received from Steve Jobs on a Sunday morning in January. It was a lesson I’ll never forget. CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday.
To one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever met, my prayers and hopes are with you Steve.
Fantastic slide set from Vineet Nayar (CEO at HCL) – 20 questions he asks himself everyday. Two things I liked about this slide set:
- The questions themselves (content is key, anyday).
- The simplicity of the presentation. Hard hitting points yet on a plain spartan template.