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Video: Twelve Lessons Learned from Steve Jobs

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Guy Kawasaki worked for Steve Jobs twice in his career, serving as an “evangelist” for Macintosh computers, among other things. So the lessons he learned from the revolutionary Mr. Jobs are worth thinking about. One of his lessons is skepticism (to put it nicely) about the opinions of “experts.” There are a lot of experts out there, and often they are wrong — or, at any rate, right only for a subset of cases. If you have an exceptional vision, exceptional drive, or simply one exceptional notion, you may want to just ignore the naysayers amongst professional know-it-alls. (This echoes a theme I floated earlier this week.)

Oh, and if you are not familiar with the talks given at TED conferences, check out

A True Revolutionary

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

The key to success in business? Profitably serve as wide a customer base as possible. Mass production is the lynchpin. And it’s also at the heart of why many intellectuals hate capitalism: Serving the mass of mankind is “beneath” them. They have a higher calling. They serve Justice, or The Truth. Or, say, Beauty.

This curious by-product of capitalism is what Austrian-American economist Ludwig von Mises called “The Anti-Capitalist Mentality”: The tendency of intellectuals to react against the very instrument that serves the common man even while they ballyhoo the “cause” of the common man.

Mises and others focused on intellectuals’ envy as the reason for their strange, seemingly inexplicable “turn.” Why bite the hand that feeds so many? Because that hand doesn’t reward intellectuals enough!

F.A. Hayek added another reason: Incomprehension. How markets work is beyond the designs of any single mind. Intellectuals tend to be prejudiced in favor of singular minds. Theirs, at least.

The great revelation at the end of the last century followed from that: Command-and-control societies must fail. Regardless, though, “planning” does happen in a free society. Piecemeal. You plan. I plan. And entrepreneurs plan to serve us both.

And entrepreneurs of genius successfully serve millions, make a lot of money for all concerned, and find new ways to make life easier, more enjoyable.

Steve Jobs was such a man. He died yesterday, age 56. As head of Apple and Pixar, he changed society by serving the masses.

And even intellectuals approved.

A revolutionary, indeed.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Greater Eloquence

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Last week, two major speeches caught our attention.

Barack Obama wagged his finger at the Supreme Court and orated in front of Congress. He said the state of the union is sound.

Apple’s Steve Jobs gave the other big speech, presenting the new iPad, a portable device that accesses the Web, allows users niftily to buy and read e-books, and much more.

Which speech will usher in real change?

Both have their critics. Many people no longer trust Obama, whether he’s pushing more government or a freeze. And many folks second-guess Apple’s newest project, despite Jobs’s spectacular success record.

For my part, I don’t buy Obama’s agenda. But I probably won’t buy an iPad, either. I tend to regard even the best new tech breakthroughs as just more vacuum cleaners. They really do suck . . . one’s time, anyway.

But to succeed, Apple doesn’t need my excitement. Just enough from others.

Early in each of Apple’s revolutions, it was hard to prophesy success, with certainty.

The neat thing about a possible neo-Gutenberg Age of tablets, e-books and virtual libraries is that I will still be able to read a normal book. One the other hand, if Obama gets his way, his policies will, willy nilly, crowd out better ones.

Still, it’s heartening to realize that to most of us the eloquence of a revolutionary thing means more, now, than the eloquence of any politician.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.