Lost and Founder

This week marks ten years since Steve Jobs passed away, so in this episode I share how the great man himself inspired me early on.

Show Notes

Anyone who knows me knows I have been a fan of the fruit company from California for a long time.

In this episode, I talk through how I became a fan of Apple early in my life – from hanging out in the design agency my mum worked at, to being fortunate enough to get an unwanted Mac from my dad's office.

Steve Jobs influenced me in many ways – through his keynotes, his showmanship, his stories, and through the many products his company brought into the world.

In this episode I summarise three key areas where Steve Jobs had an impact on me: his showmanship, his obsession with simplicity, and his views on life.

Actions / take aways

Thanks, and see you next time!

P.S. I'm on Twitter https://twitter.com/jamesjgill

Music: Jakarta by Bonsaye
Podcast hosting: Transistor

What is Lost and Founder?

Being a startup founder is not all private jets and parties. Truthfully, being a founder is a lonely, difficult, stressful, yet rewarding way to spend your life. James Gill started GoSquared with two friends from school in 2006, and in this podcast he shares his struggles, excitement, and everything in between with refreshing honesty.

Hi everyone, and welcome to episode 12 of Lost and Founder.

It's great to be back. And this week's topic. Slightly different. I wanted to talk about one of my all time idols. And a huge inspiration to me throughout my life. Steve jobs. I'm sure anyone listening. Knows the name already. But Steve was obviously the founder and CEO of Apple. And recently marked 10 years since he passed away, which is quite quite remarkable. So yeah, I wanted to sort of talk about how Steve jobs has influenced me over over the years. Aside from just wearing a polo neck on occasion so he has influenced me in many other ways and thought dive and start on today's episode so that's let's dive in

I wanted to talk about a story of how I got into apple and how I ended up using a Mac. But I also wanted to talk about. Three ways, Steve. Jobs influenced me and has inspired me. But yeah, I thought a story about how I ended up becoming. Interested in apple would maybe be a good starting place. And I guess for anyone who knows me.

Even vaguely. Well we'll though that I, I, for a long time of being quite I don't know, I guess some might say obsessive with apple. I I'm often one to watch keynotes and want to have a, have a huge desire to buy the latest apple product and And I guess, you know, at some point that started and

And at some point that that was triggered for me. And, and I, I started getting interested in this, this company, this corporate entity that makes consumer electronics. And that's kind of, kind of a bit. You know, from a totally distance standpoint, that's kind of an odd thing, isn't it? But I guess it maybe speaks volumes of the man who starts to all, but

Yeah, I guess I thought I'd maybe talk about that because maybe it shows. It sort of underlines why. I eventually became quite inspired by. This, the CEO, the founder, Steve jobs So, I guess. When I was a kid growing up. I, my parents both were in quite creative industries. My dad was always in advertising and my mum.

was in she was working at various design agencies. And I remember as a kid. Always loving drawing and loving sketching and loving art. And I remember at school, even primary school art was one of my favorite lessons. And so we cans or. You know, whenever I had spare time.

Sometimes, you know, instead of Running around outside or going crazy in the street? I would , I would draw things. I would sketch things. I'd draw cars. I. Draw buildings are draw gadgets and inventions. And I always remember mum taking my sister and I to her office.

This is a. The design agency that a friend of hers. Ran and they were all doing design work, but they were doing it on. Well, at least at the start, mostly they were doing it were pens and paper, but increasingly as I was growing up, I saw them doing, doing more and more on computers and they had these.

These computers that had like, Transparent plastic. And that looks space, age. And I started seeing this apple logo on, on the keyboard and non. On this mouse that had just one button. And I saw these people doing creative work and designing things and making things on. On computers in front of screens. And it sort of started to indicate to me that computers were a vehicle for, for creating and for channeling creative energy. And for.

Making things happen in the, in the wider world. And and I think that was something assigned the back of my mind for a long time. Like whether I knew it or not as a kid, And and then I was very fortunate as as I was growing up. I think as I was in my, in my teens, my late, late teens.

My at my dad's company. The, the ad agency, they, they had a designer working with them and for whatever reason they were getting rid of a. Have a Mac and it was a power Mac for anyone who knows what that is, that there was this big perspex thing. Very powerful at the time computer, very professional computer and.

I was fortunate enough to basically have the opportunity to take this home. When it was no longer needed. And that was the start of my journey into. Becoming a, a Mac user. And and I was incredibly excited about this because. Suddenly, I think it was the first time I actually truly had a computer with my own.

And it was a different computer to what all my friends. And what other people had other people and as school. All the computers were these. Whereas computers where the programs were. For spreadsheets and doing presentations and and for writing. Documents. And they felt like machines for work. They felt like machines for.

Getting tasks done efficiently. They felt honestly like machines that were like to. Drudgery to be honest in beige boxes and And my school. Computing. And it felt like a very secondary at best subject. If a subject at all, and, and the computing was this thing that you had to do, you had to do in the workplace because that's how, that's how you submit a report. And that's how you.

Process data. But this apple computer that I've been fortunate enough to get my hands on. Showed me that. Actually, you know, this, these can computers can be used for. Creating things for drawing things for. Producing artwork for doing stuff with videos, for doing stuff with photography. And it's more of a, an instrument for creation rather than a tool for, for.

Getting work and reports done. And. That was incredibly exciting to me. And, and so. As a kid, I, I started all. Kid, teenager, whatever you want to call it. I started tinkering with this computer and learning about it more and, and. And then it just so happened to coincide with this Renaissance of the, of, of apple and the Mac as this.

Actually quite compelling in modern computing platform. And apple itself was going through a real. Chain change as, as, as I was Getting to know this computer, the introduction. They went from a switch from basically Macko S nine to Mako S 10. 10, which is essentially what max or max run on today. But macro has nine. Was this very gray scale very, quite dull looking

Interface. And that was what the Mac habit, the Mac I had was running when I got it. And I started learning how to install software and take risks of like, Updating the software and I could even update some of the components. And and, and what I started to do is learn about. The creative programs I could get like Adobe. And at the time macro media made programs like Dreamweaver to make websites and they made programs like.

Well, they've, they've made flash and you could make interactive games with flash. And there was also tools like illustrator and Photoshop and, and so. Over time. This is how I got into apple. This is how I got into the Mac. And then and, and then, and, and I guess the rest is history. I ended up wanting to get an iPod which was obviously the coolest music player you could possibly have. And and you know, suddenly like,

You know, I think it was one of the first kids. I was very fortunate, one of the first kids to have an iPod in my school because I was just so geeked out on, on apple and this company. And. And how cool their stuff was in this cool company from California made it. And they had a cool English.

British designer as well. Johnny I've and and, and, and so, yeah, gradually I just just became more and more. Interested in, I would say obsessed with this company called, called. Well, the apple and at the helm through all of that. To introduce every product, every announcement, every probably every written word in those press releases that I would read about new products and.

Every keynote I could, I could watch was was Steve jobs. And and so that got me very interested in how this person led and run the run. What became, what has become one of the. I think maybe the world's most valuable company. So that was my deal story into the journey of. All my journey into apple and, and getting

To understand who the hell Steve talks. Was. And next yeah, let's talk about some of the things. I've been inspired by Steve on.

So really wanted to just break this down into three sections. Well, three tools There's so many aspects that Steve jobs has been, I guess, an influence over. I know that they'll know. But I think the three things I wanted to talk about was one was his showmanship and the importance of showmanship and in business.

Another was simplicity and a focus. Arguably obsession on simplicity. And the third was just on really on the wider thoughts and philosophy on life. And so, yeah, starting with we've showmanship, I guess pretty much the reason I was aware of Steve jobs was through my interest in apple and, and how they had such a flare for.

Introducing products that were. I catching that word attention, grabbing. And I guess when you think about showmanship, you think about. Steve jobs getting on stage and announcing a new product to the world. And I think often a lot of people along the way, it felt that You know, apples, this company with lots of really fancy marketing and.

You know, The products are no better than anything else. And it's just marketing and people that buy it, that buying into the marketing. But I've I've. You know, I've never really seen it that way. Obviously. I've, I've always felt that. At the core. Apple's always built. Amazing. Or Apple's always built very opinionated, but also truly as good as it possibly can. It.

It's built good products. And. That the marketing. Comes. Almost easily when you build really good really opinionated products that people want. And. I guess From from my. Understanding Steve Joseph instrumental and. Bringing that back to apple when he returned. And he was instrumental in that when he was there in the first place. But when you see how apple veered off of its course, while he was gone, it's, it's pretty clear that so much of that came from Steve's opinions and his way of doing things. And.

I feel that The showmanship almost comes from a sense of. Of excitement about the products that. He was on veiling. But also I think. The showmanship also. Was actually an element of honesty through Steve jobs. Like, I, I don't think you can be a truly great showman if you don't believe in what you're unveiling and you don't believe you're unveiling the best product you possibly can build at the time.

And I think. That showmanship really? Resonated with me. And it made me think about. How you, how you make things and how you think about marketing something in combination with how you make things you don't just build this product and slap some marketing on it, the end, or you don't make a feature and then slaps and design on after to make it look nicer.

You think about all of these things in this. Extremely hard to define an order. Group together and, and you think about it or intertwined, and that's how you build. Exceptionally great or insanely great products. And do insanely great marketing when all those things are thought of together.

And I think that also comes from. That showmanship and that ability to present things that grab attention and tell a story. That comes from.

Having great tastes too. And I think that so much of that stuff's traceable straight back to Steve jobs. And I guess. You know, I've always been inspired by how well a Steve jobs could present things on stage. In the keynotes and how well they could tee things up to tell a good story and.

Just the admiration for how. That. Focus It's almost such a. An unbelievably difficult thing to do at a company at the size of apple. And and I just, I just think that's been hugely inspiring and, and something I've always strived to try and In some way, shape or form. Set my sights on and try to in some way,

I don't know about match, but I think try to, to work towards how to, how to have showmanship that even comes anywhere close to the levels that Steve jobs and apple at the time had.

Second key area where Steve jobs has really inspired me and influenced me as being an, an almost. Uncompromising desire for simplicity and pretty much everything. I mean maybe someone who looks at apples ways of paying tax around the world would question simplicity. On some levels, but I know.

I'm sure there's many, many parts of the, the apple. Business today that far, far, far from simple, but I guess From a product perspective and marketing perspective, a. Pricing perspective. Apple has always for a company of its size. Valued simplicity. To such a huge degree. And I think it's so easy to take that for granted when you are an individual or even a small business. That of course it should be that way. Of course.

You know, a product should be designed like that. Or of course the pricing should work. I that, or of course that's the marketing message you would take about product. But I think that often that simplicity. Is totally. In contrast to the challenges and complexity and difficulty of achieving that level of simplicity.

If you think of even just any conversations you might have with your own team or, or maybe even you've had with friends about any topic that could be difficult, like maybe, maybe you've had conversations about even the phone you have and how. How it's designed and things you like and dislike about it.

I can only begin to imagine how difficult it is in a company with thousands, tens of thousands of employees. How. Difficult it is to try to ultimately do things that. Appear so simple that have such a crisp and clear message that are so well considered the So a simple at the end of the day.

It is incredibly difficult. And I think so much of that focus on simplicity. Stems right back from Steve jobs, setting the example and the importance of that as a core tenant of. Of how apple has run. And I think when you think about it, it's like throughout the history of apple products, they have done things that have been incredibly

Crazy I guess, or the. I can't imagine a company of that size, any other company doing something like that, that. People may call it marketing gimmicks, like removing the floppy disc drive or removing the CD and DVD drive or later on removing the headphone Jack. But. Those things don't happen by accident and they don't happen by a company that doesn't have clear.

Values and a clear, and perhaps one of the clearest values being. A. A huge respect for simplicity and that. Using simplicity as almost like a, a north star for, for product design. And that you constantly constantly have to battle complexity. You have to constantly fight complexity. Because it is always the natural path of any company, product discussion.

Things always go more complex because you always want to satisfy more people. You always want to take more feedback and insight and input on you always want to. Appeal to more people, things naturally get more complex over time. But. Simplicity is the antidote to that. And simplicity fight is the fight you need to bring in.

There's a fantastic book called I think it's called insanely simple. Bye. Ah by which are linked to in the show notes. And and, and essentially is a whole book about how apple has used simplicity to succeed. Whether that's through product design decisions, marketing decisions, pricing decisions.

Naming decisions, all sorts. And and I think so much of that is traceable straight back to Steve jobs and having that, that obsession with it himself.

Another area I feel that Steve jobs has had an influence on me is, is a pretty big one. And that is more on his philosophy on life. And. I think one of the, if you haven't already, there's a fantastic speech that Steve jobs gave. It wasn't about a product. It wasn't about a new. Apple store or a financial update. It was his speech to

Stanford university, Stanford, commencement speech. So if you Google that, I'm sure you'll be able to find it if you haven't seen it before, but it's, it's, it's not a long speech, but in it. Steve talks a lot about his life and it's broken into three parts and he talks about. Different stages of his life and different things he's done and different consequences of things that he's done.

But I think from that, and from, from hearing many other anecdotes and stories about Steve it's extremely clear that, that he is. A very deep thinker and one that. Thought. A lot about the world around him. And about. The life he wanted to lead and the legacy wants to leave behind. He wanted to leave a dent in the universe. And a thing I think is pretty clear. He managed to achieve that to some extent.

Rather successfully. But in, in there, In that commencement speech. I think they're just a couple of things that really stood out to me. And one of them was that. He talked about his journey and he went to university briefly and ended up dropping out and he ended up. Stumbling into classes on topography. And he then talked about how he learned about typography and kerning and Sarah sans-serif fonts. And.

And why. And, and the, the benefits of different fonts and different. Lesser forms and the beauty of typography. And you know, you question why that would be a, to interesting to somebody who wanted to start. Computer company in there. When it was around the eighties, the late seventies, early eighties, and

And, and, and obviously later on the Mac was the first computer that shipped with with funds, with the ability to actually choose which font you used to write a document and. It's obviously something we all take for granted today that you can, you can pick from hundreds or thousands of fonts on your computer, and anyone can choose whatever type pace and be creative with that. But

It's not necessarily an obvious chain of events. And, and in that speech, Steve jobs talks about how. You can't. Look at these things at the time and know where they're going to take you. You can't join the dots. Looking forward, you can only join them looking backwards. And I've, is that a times to think about.

Life experiences and where. Sometimes it's worth. Going off the beaten track and going. And taking a path that might take you into unknown territory, but sometimes that can take you into really exciting or interesting places. And you can't predict where that's going to take you ahead of time. You can only look back and see how things connected.

And it's sometimes a good exercise actually, to look at some of the things that you. Appreciate and value most in your life and try to trace them back to. Where they started or what. Events and decisions caused those things to happen. It might be an interesting exercise if you have time because you know, I, I do that every now and again. It's, it's quite fascinating actually.

And then the other thing in that commencements besides. I just thought it was quite. Quite valuable was He said that life is short. You don't have a lot of time on this planet. No matter, no matter how much time you have

No one's live forever. And And that life is short and you shouldn't live it. You shouldn't live your life. In someone else's shoes, don't waste your life. Living someone else's life or Or I'll try to try to live live based on how other people want you to live. Make sure you live live your life because you only get one. And

And try to make sure you You do something great with it and and to. Wake up every morning and ask yourself whether you're going to enjoy what you're doing today. When you're excited for the day ahead. And if you, if you find yourself looking in the mirror too many times and saying, I'm not going to enjoy today, then.

Try to find a way of correcting that. And. Well, you can do to change that because you don't have. You don't have for a habit, you have a short, we all have a short life on this planet, which we're blessed with and is in each of us to do, do. The best we can and to do the best work we can to live the best life we can. And to try to look for ways we can do that and to do.

The things that truly. Make us who we are to live to our full potential and I think Steve jobs did that truly in the short and the short time he was on the planet. And I hope that. I can do that with my life. And. And. Do as much as I can to. Put my own small dent in the, in the universe.

And I hope that you might be inspired to as well. And And yeah, I guess that's pretty much everything. I went to the sound on the Steve jobs today. I'm sure there's more that I'll be kicking myself. I, I haven't said, but. I don't want to veer off into a. Too much of a tangent on what I think of the latest iPhones or max or whatever. I just wanted to talk about some of the, the higher level, maybe the deepest stuff that Steve is influenced over over the years. And I hope it's been interesting.

So, thanks very much for listening. And if you enjoyed this show, let me know if you didn't, uh, well, let me know to add. And all I'll use that to calibrate what I talk about. In future episodes So, thanks again and catch you next time. Cheers!