Steve Jobs: Relentless Pursuit of Excellence

January 30, 2012

Recently, I had an opportunity to read the story of Apple’s Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  I found it fascinating and well done.  
Steve Jobs Cover

We all know that Jobs changed the world with his many creations at Apple and Pixar Films.  Isaacson wrote, “Steve Jobs became the greatest business executive of our era. The one most certain to be remembered a century from now. History will place him in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford.  Was he smart, no, not exceptionally; instead, he was a genius.  His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times, magical.” 

I‘ve always been interested in why some businessmen and women are successful and some are not.  There are several sound business principles that Jobs executed that all business people should study.  Isaacson wrote, “Some leaders push innovations by being good at the big picture; others do so by mastering the details.  Jobs did both relentlessly.”  And relentlessly is the key word.  

When my father would hire someone, he would always look for a person who had a lot of drive.  Jobs was relentless in pursuit of excellence.  He never, never gave up until he met his objective.  And, even then, he was never satisfied.  My father was also a perfectionist and worked hard for perfection in everything he did.  We always say in our company that ”success is never final.”  This is a phrase my father came up with.    

Jobs was a good judge of people and surrounded himself with “A” players.  He had a fantastic team and held them accountable.  I found his leadership style with his team extremely demanding which is ok.  But he was often mean, overly critical and quite unfair many times.  This is not ok.

Jobs realized the great importance of focus and when he returned to lead Apple in 1997, he fixed that company by cutting all except a few core products.  His basic focus caused his Apple team to work intensely to perfect and create just a few truly great products. 

Along with his intense focus, there was a dedication to simplicity – not only in the end product but also with the team at the home office.  Jobs’ products were his motivation.  And his motivation was not profits.  

My father and I had frequent heated discussions about quality versus profits.  In my early days, I accused my Dad of being very unreasonable in his intense focus on great food and service but also wanting increased profitability.  I learned you can do both and that is, in my opinion, management’s ultimate challenge.

Dad believed, as Jobs did, that if the product is perfect, the profits would be there.  And for Apple, they certainly were.  Isaacson wrote that, “In May 2010, Apple surpassed Microsoft as the world’s most valuable technology company and by September 2010, it was worth 70% more than Microsoft.” 

Steve Jobs – what a guy!  

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

Listen to Blog Steve Jobs

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Bill-
Happy Birthday....may you live to 120..
Biblically , my husband Bob Swanson (former shuttle driver and doorman for JW Marriott Starr Pass, Tucson) and myself have that age as a goal for ourselves.
We also read the Steve Jobs book. I have the gratitude of being a cancer survivor and had the good fortune to have a loving supportive husband during my recovery...My husband and I considered natural healing, however we thought that decision should be after we tried the chemo, radiation route. I wish Steve Jobs had tried the traditional route first...Unfortunately we'll never know!
One thing I loved about him was his persistence to quality. He would not have allowed the recent iPad release...This was our second. We returned it....seems the new processor run's hot...it was not comfortable.
We love the original iPad and our IPhones. We hope the new CEO will fix this problem. Just like there will not be another Steve Jobs, there will not be another Bill Marriott. You are truly special. I love your blog. You have truly used this tool for communication...and everyone and anyone can talk to you...how great....
Again, we truly hope you live to 120.
Love-
Patricia & Robert

"Stay Hungry" as been one of my mottos for a long time now. RIP Mr. Jobs

I am really inspired by Steve Jobs. The man who made progress in his life is really a benchmark for people like me. He has given me a lesson that how thinking out of the box yields great results.

I was listening to a Podcast this morning and what I learned was " stay hungry" and connect yourself to two key words " continous learning". Am sure this book will help me grow and reach my highest potential to become a better individual.
Many thanks Mr.Marriott.

Dear Mr. Marriott:
I was recently in a leadership class and was asked who exemplified leadership to us and I replied that it was you and Steve Jobs. Your assessment is great, I enjoy your blogs. I am in the middle of the book right now. By the way, I read that iphone generated more revenue than all of Microsoft last quarter.

I got this book on the Christmas and I was satisfied. I would recommend it as compulsory reading in business schools.

Steve was brilliant.

I agree with you Mr Marriot... As a huge Apple fan...I would say that he is a visionary... A Genuis...A man who was bold enough to think differently..and believed that he could change the world like he did now... and most of all he was talented to get things done...


Stay foolish.. Stay Hungry... =)

Marriott and Apple for life!!

Jobs was a genius but I hear that it could be quite unpleasant to work for him.

Frankly, you seem like a better boss Mr Marriott.

I look forward to reading the book. There is much to learn about becoming a good leader. Thanks for sharing your comments.

Great review Mr. Marriott. I appreciate you noting that the way jobs treated his employees was not OK. Your recognition of this fact and dedication to employees well being AND performance is what makes Marriott such a great company to work for.

Thank you Mr. Marriott, I enjoyed the article. Steve Jobs was an amazing innovator, I compare his passion for the product to that of The Ritz-Carlton, when in the Credo we say that we "fulfill even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests." Steve Jobs said "the customer didn't know what they wanted until he invented it". I think we have also moved from the guest "needs" and now we focus on the "wants" since our customers need very little that they can't afford but have wants we so warmly and genuinly provide. Kind Regards

Thank you Mr. Marriott, I enjoyed the article. Steve Jobs was an amazing innovator, I compare his passion for the product to that of The Ritz-Carlton, when in the Credo we say that we "fulfill even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests." Steve Jobs said "the customer didn't know what they wanted until he invented it". I think we have also moved from the guest "needs" and now we focus on the "wants" since our customers need very little that they can't afford but have wants we so warmly and genuinly provide. Kind Regards

It is very interesting to hear one innovator who will go down in history speak about another innovator who will go down in history. You are the leaders who have played a large role in making our era the best time ever to be alive. However - and not to downplay the amazing contributions of Steve Jobs - I will always be more enamored by the Marriott family's ethos of treating all people with respect while creating opportunities all over the world. This is a less tangible but more important contribution.

With so much focus on the bottom line, it's nice to know that those at the top still look for great product along with great profitability. Thank you Mr. Marriott!

I agree. I was on my MacBookPro when a stream scrolled across the top that he had died. I was reading Isaacson's book on Steve Jobs when it was reported that Apple was the wealthiest company in the world replacing ExxonMobile. When I finished the book I felt as if I had lost a friend.

I made one small mistake in my post after asking my wife, it is an IPad 2. I was probably thinking of an Iphone (that we don't have). If you's like to correct that for me and delete this post that would be fine
Wayne

Very well put. Likewise I admire your relentless pursuit of perfection and tenacity for quality service at Marriott Hotels which has made you a leader and an innovator in the hotel industry. Thank you personally, Mr. Marriott, for setting this fine example of perfection.

My wife and I bought our first Apple computer in a IPAD 4 recently. We went to our local Apple store and it was crowded. I mean crowded. It didn't take long to discover however that there were no lines for anything, and the reason was that more than half the people in there were Apple employees. Unbelievable! We had immediate service, the sales person took all the time we needed to set up and accessorize our device and even took the time to chat us up on our lives and told us a little of his acting career. There couldn't have been better service and I went away thinking: "That must be why Steve's name was Jobs."

Steve Jobs changed the world on technology, what a guy !!

Mr> Marriott changed the world on service, what a guy also. !!
Thanks to both of them.!!

Wilder Savany

Thank you for sharing this with us. :-)

Well said. Great leaders of innovation in any industry always face challenges that shape the destiny of their service or products.