Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

The magic left the building with Jobs

I remember the moment Steve Jobs scrolled through his music and uttered those magical words – “scrolls like butter” – while illustrating the beauty of the original iPhone.

stevejobs1

It’s moments like this that you lived for, as a technology obsessed professional in Silicon Valley. And with Jobs we got to watch the Michael Jordan of technology, courtside, at his best. iPods, iPhones, iPads, the hits kept coming and Jobs made them look great.

So, it’s a pet peeve of mine these days when companies try to rip off Steve Jobs’ launch style. Not Apple’s style because the new PR machinery at Apple leaves a lot to be desired. But what Jobs created, no one else can put together, because it was and will always be classic Jobs.

Jobs in the above video is the same age as Zuckerberg is today. Incomparable!

Why “Public Relations” sucks?

Kevin Roose writes of the Applefication of Facebook PR in light of today’s Facebook press conference.

I’m sitting in the Facebook headquarters, in Menlo Park, in a room filled with the symphonic clicking of keys produced by hundreds of tech bloggers, all writing the same stories and updating the same live-blogs on identical Apple laptops.

Go on…

Zuckerberg has long departed — he was disappeared from a teeming pile of reporters and cameras and out a back door like a sitting president — so now it’s just us and the PR Borg. Oh, the PR Borg. Facebook’s communications staffers are paired up with reporters at demo stations, showing off Graph on a series of computers. The spares are milling around the room. There must be 50 of them — a phalanx of fresh-faced professionals with smiles on their faces and carefully scripted responses to our questions in their hip pockets.

These are today’s news factories. These are things I’d hoped would change with social media but frankly the hand that runs the machine continues to operate with an old playbook. And that sucks…

But wasn’t social media meant to change these things… Hold that thought.

Because no company can ever be Apple with Jobs 

I never went to an Apple event in the Steve Jobs era, but I gather that the pitch is nearly identical: the charismatic founder, the well-paced presentation, the subtle way that certain media outlets are subtly given preference. (This time, major news outlets — this one not included — were given off-the-record briefings about Social Graph.) It’s all drawn from a playbook that was developed a decade ago and has been used to transform a smallish computer company into the largest corporation in the world.

Not so fast. This playbook copied by every large company from Amazon to Facebook forgets three key elements for this communication to work: killer product, charismatic founder, real user values.

The magic with Steve Jobs was his effortless communication. A passionate user himself whose demos communicated his wonder around Apple products that truly changed the way we interact with technology.

Yes, Apple had their PR machinery but the difference was Jobs.

  • The difference was in backing up those missives by publicly sparring, evangelizing and winning over developers or journalists when they called him on it.
  • The difference was a holistic approach at communicating openly to users by treating them as adults.

Wasn’t that the utopian goal of social media? To help companies talk one-on-one with their users. Instead here we are, still mass producing press releases around giant product announcements, trying to reach the lowest common denominator at the lowest possible price. In some cases, at the ridiculously low price of $100.00!

Welcome to the future of social media communication.

[Disclosure: I own public stock in Facebook, I do not own stock in Apple. This blog holds my my personal thoughts on all things marketing and communications since 2006.]

Filed under: Best-of, Facebook, Public Relations, Social PR, , , ,

Steve Jobs as Luke Skywalker. Circa 1987.

Rockstars are made, not born. They practice tirelessly; honing their craft at every given opportunity, and with the help of Jobs’ 1987 Playboy interview, I’d like to shed some light on the early stages of Jobs’ communication savvy and the communication consistency that he has now perfected into an art form.

Jobs In 1987. p.s. What’s up with the bow-tie.

Fine tuning the metaphors:

Nobody hits a home run on Day One. Some have an in-born talent but it’s always a work in progress. Steve Jobs’ D8 presentation, his keynotes, his Stanford commencement speech — is the culmination of years of assiduous practice. I’m gonna walk you through three examples of Steve coming up with metaphors to describe nascent technology that most people (at the time of the interview) didn’t grok.

Let’s see how his thinking and his metaphors are fine-tuned over time.

Let’s take his earliest interviews, the Playboy one in 1987 is a great example, and look at his response to what is a computer. I know. Bear with me here. The year is 1987 and people still don’t get the PC revolution that’s gonna hit them. It’s amazing how hard it is to impress upon the reporter what a game changer the Mac is gonna be.

His first attempt to describe computers is kinda rambling:

Computers are actually pretty simple. We’re sitting here on a bench in this café. Let’s assume that you understood only the most rudimentary of directions and you asked how to find the rest room. I would have to describe it to you in very specific and precise instruction. I might say, “Scoot sideways two meters off the bench. Stand erect. Lift left foot. Bend left knee until it is horizontal. Extend left foot and shift weight 300 centimeters forward…” and on and on. If you could interpret all those instructions 100 times faster than any other person in this café, you would appear to be a magician: You could run over and grab a milk shake and bring it back and set it on the table and snap your fingers, and I’d think you made the milk shake appear, because it was so fast relative to my perception. THat’s exactly what a computer does. It takes these very simple-minded instructions––”Go fetch a number, add it to this number, put the result there, perceive if it’s greater than this other number”––but executes them at a rate of , let’s say, 1,000,000 per second. At 1,000,000 per second, the results appear to be magic.

That’s a simple explanation, and the point is that people really don’t need to understand how computers work. Most people have no concept of how an automatic transmission works, yet they know how to drive a car. You don’t have to study physics to understand the laws of motion to drive a car. You don’t have to understand any of this stuff to use Macintosh––but you asked [laughs]

Wow! Quite verbose. It’s got the early stages of his story-telling but it’s definitely too technical for a reporter and not impressive since he asks him again the same question. Steve takes a second shot at it, which goes…

A computer is the most incredible tool we’ve ever seen. It can be a writing tool, a communications center, a supercalculator, a planner, a filer and an artistic instrument all in one, just by being given new instructions, or software, to work from. There are no other tools that have the power and versatility of a computer. We have no idea how far it’s going to go. Right now, computers make our lives easier. They do work for us in fractions of a second that would take us hours. They increase the quality of life, some of that by simply automating drudgery and some of that by broadening our possibilities. As things progress, they’ll be doing more and more for us.

Meh. Kinda there, but he’s hinting at the potential it possesses as a revolutionary, incredible utility. Still not convinced, the journalist asks him a pointed question on computers for business and Steve ends with:

There are different answers for different people. In business, that question is easy to answer: You really can prepare documents much faster and at a higher quality level, and you can do many things to increase office productivity. A computer frees people from much of the menial work. Besides that, you are giving them a tool that encourages them to be creative. Remember, computers are tools. Tools help us do our work better.

Still not there, and as you can see, reporters are always going for the pithy answers that even a 12 year old will understand. But, then in a later interview (video after quote), Jobs gives a far more succinct metaphor to evoke the possibilities of a computer.

One of the things that separates us from primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in a third of the way down the list. But, Scientific American tested the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle.

And, a man on the bicycle blew the condor away; it was completely off the top of the charts. And, that’s what a computer is to me. It is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.

To me this is one of the early stages where you can see the power of the evocative metaphor being used by Jobs. Fast forward to 2008 where Jobs, yet again, takes a stab at explaining a new product that Apple’s betting on big – the iPad.

I’m trying to think of a good analogy. When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks cos that’s what you needed on the farm. But, as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, and America started to move towards them. Cars got more popular and innovations like power steering, etc. happened.

And, now, maybe 1 in every 25 vehicles is a truck where it used to be like 100%.

PCs are gonna be like trucks.

As you can see, no technicalities on what an iPad does well, no reference to a study by Scientific American, nothing. Just a nuanced metaphor on trucks and cars that everyone in America and the world will understand.

Read the rest of the article here.

Hope you’re having a great Sunday. Say Hi on Twitter!

I’ll leave you behind with a behind the scenes video of a young 23 year old Steve Jobs prepping for a TV interview. Young Luke Skywalker.

Filed under: Best-of, Public Relations, Public Speaking, Steve Jobs,

Zuckerberg ain’t Jobs. 3 Ways to Try.

This post has been a long time coming. As someone who earns a living in the PR space and one who obsessively follows the unique craft of tech CEO presentations, I had to concur with CNN’s recent piece on Mark Zuckerberg’s recent product announcement and why it was a giant FAIL compared to a Jobs presentation!

C’mon. Comparing Zuckerberg to Jobs is like expecting Shia LaBeouf to act like Marlon Brando. While Transformers may sell $750 million in box-office receipts — that doesn’t a Brando make. This seems like a perfect time to finally share my thoughts on Steve Jobs’ virtuoso D8 interview – yet another instance of Jobs’ public speaking savvy.

Here are three of the Jobs’ unique speaking skills that you can glean from his presentations — seemingly simple but tough to emulate:

Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field can be emulated. 3 Simple tricks below.

If you’re telling a story, make it gripping:

There are a million boring ways to tell a story. Just ask Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer (don’t even get me started), but Jobs has a penchant for telling an elegant story that hooks you from the get go.

Juxtaposing Jobs’ d8 presentation with Zuckerberg’s presentation would be interesting, but if you ran a word cloud through Jobs’ presentation, here’s what you’d have seen. It’s all about people.

His very first anecdote about Apple’s resurgence (overtaking the market cap of Microsoft) recounts the bygone days when Apple was down in the dumps to highlight what a glorious triumph this is:

Well, Apple was about 90 days from going bankrupt… (Boom!) in the early days. It was much worse than I thought when I went back.

But there were people there (I’d expected all the good people would have left), and I found these miraculous people, great people and I asked them as tactfully as I could: Why are you still here? And, I’ll never forget. A lot of them had this phrase: because I bleed in six colors. (Note: I remember having a “Apple bleeds six colors” poster on my cubicle wall a few years back)

You know what this reminds me of:

Don Draper, Season 4, Episode 1 (Public Relations). After learning the craft of telling stories to reporters, Don is asked if he’s the definitive entity in his newly formed ad agency. Here’s the story he relates:

Last year, our agency was being swallowed whole. I realized I had two choices: I could die of boredom or holster up my guns. So, I walked into Lane Pryce’s office and I said: Fire us! (Boom!) — Cue Background Music.

Two days later we were up and running at the Pier Hotel, within a year we had taken over two floors of the Time Life Building.

Again, start with the nadir of the story to pique the viewer’s curiosity and build up to the finale. The cadence of story-telling between the two quotes is uncanny but good story-telling always remains the same.

Use evocative metaphors that ring true and wise:

Throughout history, all the great teachers have spoken in parables. More importantly, when asked questions use plain speak metaphors from every day life that each and every one of us can relate to. Before you frame your answer, ask yourself: would a 12 year old understand what I’m about to say? And, go…

Here are a couple of examples from Jobs (from just this interview):

On why they ditched Adobe: Apple is a company that doesn’t have unlimited resources (Reality Distortion Field in effect). They way we do that is by looking at technical vectors that have a future. Different pieces of technology kinda go in cycles: they have their springs and summers and autumns, then they go to the graveyard of technology.

We try to pick things that are in their springs. And, if you choose wisely you can save yourself an enormous amount of work rather than trying to do everything. (true and wise)

To a question on whether the tablet will eventually replace the laptop:

I’m trying to think of a good analogy. When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks cos that’s what you needed on the farm. But, as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, and America started to move towards them. Cars got more popular and innovations like power steering, etc. happened.

And, now, maybe 1 in every 25 vehicles is a truck where it used to be like 100%.

PCs are gonna be like trucks.

Such a nuanced answer that yet again, aims to simplify and would communicate effectively to any 12 year old in the audience.

Here’s one more from the past on how computers are like a bicycle for your mind. Watch the video.

Clarity and consistency in thought and messaging

I recently read an essay on “Politics and the English language” by George Orwell, 1946, that I’d recommend to anyone with a fleeting desire to revisit their usage of the spoken and the written word. The essay culminates in 6 simple rules for clear writing and I think that can be extended to clear speaking as well.

These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable. One could keep all of them and still write bad English, but one could not write the kind of stuff that I quoted in those five specimens at the beginning of this article.

If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy.

I think Jobs best defines this in every single interview he’s done. I could go on. But, let me pick an example from D8’s interview for his thoughts on privacy – an area where every company from Google to Facebook have had their fair share of stumbles but I think the clarity and simplicity of Jobs’ definition of privacy is startling.

We’ve had a very different view of privacy. We take it very seriously.

Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for… in plain english, and repeatedly.

I’m an optimist and I believe people are smart. Some people want to share more data. Some people more than others do. Ask em. Ask em every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them.

Let them know precisely what you’re gonna do with their data.

And, finally speaking of consistency of values that shines through every single interview Jobs has done, was this quote:

You know (long pause). When this whole Gizmodo incident happened, I got a lot of advice, that said: you’ve got to let it slide. You shouldn’t go after a journalist because they bought stolen property and they tried to extort you.You should let it slide.

And, I thought deeply about this. And, I ended up concluding.

That the worst thing that could possibly happen as we get big and gain a little more influence in this world, is if we change our core values and if we started letting it slide.

I can’t do that. I’d rather quit.

We have the same values now as we had then.

And, that consistency is true of Jobs impeccable communication skills. Watch the entire D8 Jobs interview here.

Filed under: Best-of, Facebook, Leadership Communication, Mark Zuckerberg, Public Relations, Public Speaking, Steve Jobs, , ,

5 ways leaders win tough arguments in public

Being a leader is a tough job (just ask these guys).Often you are facing some really tough questions from a lot of folks — your shareholders, developers, etc. — sometimes that happens in the public limelight. Now, you’ve got three options – fight the good argument and earn respect, spin, or just evade said question.

This past week, a video of Jobs at the 1997 Worldwide Developer conference (h/t: Quora) parrying questions from a mostly receptive developer audience began circulating. Most questions were curious developers as to the direction of Apple, except for one really combative question from a developer (obviously pissed off at what happened to a business division that was likely to be closed).

Mr. Jobs. You’re bright.(Jobs: smiles – here it comes…)

It’s clear you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’d like you (for e.g.) to express in clear terms how (say) Java, in all its incarnations, addresses the ideas embodied in OpenDoc.

And, when you’re finished with that, perhaps you could tell us what you’ve personally been doing for the last 7 years.

(audible gasps from the audience. I’m almost sure I heard someone say: “ouch”)

How do you answer this? Right after the jump.

Viewers: You may wanna skip to the 50:23 mark in the video below for the tough question I’m referring to.

This has got to be one of the toughest questions a CEO could face (see how Carol Bartz handled a similar question). BTW, Jobs was an advisor to Apple when he faced the dev community here but subsequently became CEO.

Lessons from Jobs: 5 ways CEOs can win tough arguments in public

1. Have a sense of humor:

While the questioner was setting up Jobs for the tough question, Jobs senses the tension and starts off by saying: “here it comes” and holding up his chair to playfully indicate he’s deflecting the tough question. Either way, his demeanor changes after he hears the question as he composes his thoughts.

Now what…

2. Breathe. Take your time to answer:

Aight, so now you’ve been asked a really tough question. What next? Yes, a lot of people are waiting for you to answer and the press may pore over your remarks – so there is a lot riding on this – so take time to answer as you collect your thoughts.

How many times have we been in an argument with folks when we’re asked something that could potentially make us look silly. Worse still, if that’s in front of other folks. So, magnify that a thousand times in this situation. A lot of folks come right outta the gates with a quick quip or retort, and then they may try to move past it as quickly as possible. But, if you do brush it aside you don’t earn the respect of the audience.

Jobs (as always) is finely tuned into both the psychological intent of the question and is very empathetic with his answer both of which are essential when you’re responding to someone combative.

But remember to breathe. Or, like Jobs, take a swig off that bottle of water while you compose your thoughts.

3. Frame your answer before you begin:

This is a corollary to the take time to answer suggestion. While you take your time, not only do you build viewer interest, but it also gives you time to frame your answer. It’s the same with writing a blog post. I always remember Jeremiah‘s recommendation to frame your post before you start writing it (since it helps nail the key points as succinctly as possible).

4. Every answer is a story waiting to be told:

Jobs is such a master story-teller. Even with his tough questions he takes the audience on a journey. Not everyone is good at it and frankly, no one comes close to what Jobs does here, while answering (tough) questions.

For e.g. in the above clip (starts at 50:23), Jobs starts off with:

“You can please some of the people, some of the time”, right off the bat setting the stage for context, perspective and drama. But then, he pauses and continues setting the context for his answer.

[LONG PAUSE] but… [PAUSE] One of the hardest things when you’re trying to effect change is that… people like this gentleman…

[PAUSE]

… are RIGHT! [PAUSE. Bam! Storytelling, baby!]… in some areas.

5. Appeal to reason in a smart way:

Let’s not forget, the end result of this speech or any CEO or congressman or public figure is an appeal to a common sense of purpose. Everybody wants a sense of assurance minus-evading, spinning, or flat-out ignoring the questions – since it won’t earn you any respect.

I think the key to the answer was how Jobs not only tried to assuage the gentleman’s concerns (“that there are probably things that OpenDoc does that’s better than anything in the market and stuff that even I don’t get”) but he goes on to explain how critical it is to focus, think big and to realize how every product fits into a cohesive larger vision that allows you to go big ($8 Billion Big).

Also, he explains how when prioritizing a million great products – always start with the customer experience and work backward with the technology

“I’ve made this mistake more than anybody in this room, I’ve got the scar tissue to prove it and I know it’s the case… And, I think that’s the right path to take”.

The Laser printer example narration is priceless. After elaborating on it. He once again says:

“I’m sorry that OpenDoc is a casualty along the way. And, there are many things I don’t have the faintest idea what I’m talking about…”

But, then insists, why it’s important to rally the troops, support them and support Apple in the market. He gives examples of other engineers who are working their butt off on executing around the priorities that have been set by the company.

At the end of the day, the gentleman may not have bought Jobs’ answer no matter how convincing it was, which goes back to the very first thing Jobs began with his answer.

“You can please some of the people, some of the time”.

Bam!

Coda: HOW-TO take tough questions without flinching and earn the audience’s respect.

What Jobs is a master of, is the ability to tell you (in as reasonable a manner as possible) what he think, why he thinks so, and why that’s a great idea. And, he’s been doing that consistently through his career (both when Apple was down right up to this very day). The above video is a perfect example of that mastery.

But still this is a template for answering negative questions, esp. when you’re a CEO or a leader in the spotlight to summarize the above. Here goes…

  1. Acknowledge the negativity / elephant in the room.
  2. Assuage the naysayer’s concerns
  3. Restate it in the right context (user experience first, not tech first)
  4. Be humble (accepts his own failings in that regard, humbly suggests this is just his idea, gives an example “laser printer story” of why user experience matters and show-not-tell)
  5. Straight talk: Mistakes have been made and will be fixed.

So, that’s a quick summary of how I see Jobs deal with questions: good, bad or ugly. Lot of lessons in there. Plus, the most important thing is that — throughout that interview, Jobs kept stressing on focus and this answer too fit within that overarching holistic theme.

And, in the long run Jobs was proven right as he took Apple to unprecedented hights surpassing even Microsoft.

Feel free to share this on your favorite social network. Thanks!

Filed under: Best-of, Crisis Communications, Public Relations, Public Speaking, Steve Jobs,

Why CEOs should break their bad email habits

Update: Brian Chen from Wired writes of Steve Jobs’ “email campaign” with input from Steve Rubel and Brian Solis. My $0.02 per my original blog post below: I think a CEO “email campaign” (if true) sounds a tad manipulative and opportunistic. That said, a consistent Twitter outreach from a CEO seems a more authentic way to reach a far wider audience – and more effective. I can assure you a twitter.com/stevejobs account will rival that of Gizmodo‘s w/ 83K followers and offer an easier way for a CEO to reach fans and media alike. Beg to differ. Please comment away. And, Thanks for reading!

If you like this content, follow me on Twitter!

Turn on Techmeme yesterday and and this is what I saw.

CEO emails were all the rage on TechMeme yesterday!

This is not an isolated occurrence.  I’ve been seeing a lot of emails coming from 1 Infinite Loop in the past 24 hours as well as preceding weeks.

One email to Steve Jobs asked him what he thought of Gizmodo saying Google had leapfrogged Apple with the release of the new Android operating system. Steve’s response,“Not a chance.”

Another emailer (via Mac Rumors) asked if Google was showing up Apple with its developer conference and if Apple had big announcements for WWDC. Steve’s response, “You won’t be disappointed.”

And Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook completed the cycle with his email to Scobleizer, who then proceeded to ask the question: “When do you throw a CEOs privacy under the bus”. Scoble then answered the question with a screenshot of the email string and:

UPDATE: Zuckerberg gave me permission to print this email while I was typing this post.

Cue Seinfeld tone: What’s… the deal… with CEOs and emails these days?!

I constantly review CEOs and their attempts at blogging. I’d have to agree with Steve Jobs’ BFF Larry Ellison that there are far more important issues for a CEO to deal with than to regularly write blog posts.  His exact words were, I quote: “Blogging was a silly diversion” for former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz. Zing. Yes, there’s always the one off crisis management blog post that I believe a CEO can deliver with much impact, but regular blogging is overkill.

That said, since my last post on this topic, the landscape for corporate communication has been radically transformed thanks to Twitter and its ability to offer anybody (even CEOs) a chance to communicate to their audience (maybe peers, employees, customers or the media) in an authentic manner with a minimal investment of time.

CEO Twittering is easier than CEO blogging but still an investment of time

A twitter account is a perfect way to strike the right balance (I’ve said it before). Plus, for any CEO (especially, a celebrity like Steve Jobs) the sky is the limit when it comes to the following he can gather should he choose to tweet on a regular basis. I’m just saying, cos he’s been emailing a lot lately. With that in mind, I wrote down 5 questions for a CEO or executive to consider before choosing to start with social media. Print this out and share it with your CEO, in case of an emergency.

1. First ask yourself: “Do I have something interesting to say?”

And, is that on behalf of my company’s brand or my own. Most of the executives who blog have a great personality in front of the social media camera and are comfortable playing the role of a celebrity. But, if you’re camera shy and would rather just get the job done and move on (like HPs Mark Hurd), forget about it.

Check out other executives who tweet. Is this something you’d be comfortable doing?

  • Former GE rockstar CEO, Jack Welch (1.2M followers). Topics: Sports talk. Lots of it. (I predicted he would tweet. Sorta)
  • Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh (1.6M followers). Topics: Pithy, inspirational quotes.
  • Cisco’s CTO Padmasree (1.4M followers). Topics: Tech, music, weekends and lots of engagement with followers.
  • Express’ CMO Lisa (17K followers). Style: Topics: Yes, she tweets often about Fashion. In many cases Express’.
  • Formerly Kodak’s CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett (21K). Topics: Travel and book related.

And, so many more. Yes, it’s pretty amazing. Also, do you know of any CEOs who have established a presence on Facebook to engage with their “fans”? Sorry. Former Governor Sarah Palin doesn’t count.

2. Does this tie into your branding strategy?

What surprised me most about Steve Jobs’ late night emails (there’s a part of me that still wants to believe it is fake) is that it contradicts the carefully constructed image we have of Apple and by association Steve Jobs. It paints him more Howard Hughes than PT Barnum. Every brand needs to continue that brand imagery on Twitter as well.

In Express Retail’s case, they have an integrated marketing and branding strategy where they aggressively promote their Twitter and Facebook avatars through their packaging, etc. If you consider Twitter a marketing channel, then go all out and try to tie it into the larger marketing / branding efforts of the org.

3. Does this tie in with your communications strategy?

Let’s not forget all of the above CEO emails were with bloggers and journalists. Mostly bloggers. The fact is most bloggers (and increasingly journalists) are on Twitter, plus your conversations are going to be broadcast to millions of other users in addition, making your communication more effective than an email. Plus, you can always DM (private message) a journalist if you want to say: “No“.

Check out a list of bloggers and journalists who are on Twitter already.

4. Have you considered the legal ramifications?

Understand that blogs and Twitter fall under the FTC’s guidelines, so beware of frivolous brand endorsements. And, don’t forget the SEC since that could be a bigger problem for you especially if you’re a publicly traded company. Here are some of the issues they watch out for (Source: BNET).

  • How information posted on a company Web site can be considered “public” and how companies can comply with public disclosure requirements under Regulation FD by posting information on their web sites
  • The liability framework for certain types of electronic disclosure, including:
    • how companies can provide access to historical or archived data without it being considered reissued or republished every time it is accessed
    • how companies can link to third party information or Web sites without having to “adopt” that content for liability purposes
  • clarification of how the anti-fraud provisions apply to statements made by the company (or by a person acting on behalf of the company) in blogs and electronic shareholder forums.

5. Just tweet it

If you’ve answered all the above questions with a “Yes”, then take the tiny little step of actually setting up your Twitter account (which should take all of 2 minutes). And, send out your first “Hello World” tweet for the world to see. Yes, it may seem intimidating now, but the ramifications of a positive engaging conversation with your customers has a positive impact to your brand.

But all of this is valid ONLY if you’re truly interested in having this as an ongoing conversation. With Twitter it’s a small yet considerable investment of your valuable time, so think twice before you jump in. Because if you quit doing it, you’ll be worse off than if you never started twittering. An easier way, would be to establish a presence on LinkedIn. (Disclosure: Yes, I work there).

If you’re interested in these topics, please subscribe to my blog. And, don’t be a stranger. Leave a comment, rant, rave or tweet me @mariosundar.

Filed under: Business Blogging, Leadership Communication, Public Relations,

Steve Jobs Quotes – Top 10

Like my post? Follow me on Twitter.

Now, why didn’t I do this before! A perfect way to combine my love of management philosophy and all things Apple, by churning out a playlist of Jobs’ Top 10 quotes.

What started it all, was this recent article in Fortune Magazine that comes on the heels of Apple being selected as America’s Most Admired Company.

But what I unearthed there was a slew of golden quotes from Jobs himself, who has quickly replaced Jack Welch as the one business celebrity I’d like to meet (although I came pretty close to that in the past).

To make it easier to consume, I’ve broken down the quotes into two sets of five each (one set on Management and the other on Leadership). Read and Learn, my friends!

Steve Jobs’ Top 10 Quotes (after the jump)

Steve Jobs Top 10 Quotes

Steve Jobs' Top 10 Quotes

5 Management Mantras

#10. On Management

My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better. My job is to pull things together from different parts of the company and clear the ways and get the resources for the key projects.

And to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions of how it could be.

#9. On Hiring

Recruiting is hard. It’s just finding the needles in the haystack. You can’t know enough in a one-hour interview.

So, in the end, it’s ultimately based on your gut. How do I feel about this person? What are they like when they’re challenged? I ask everybody that: ‘Why are you here?’ The answers themselves are not what you’re looking for. It’s the meta-data.

#8. On Firing

We’ve had one of these before, when the dot-com bubble burst. What I told our company was that we were just going to invest our way through the downturn, that we weren’t going to lay off people, that we’d taken a tremendous amount of effort to get them into Apple in the first place — the last thing we were going to do is lay them off.

#7. On a CEO succession Plan

I mean, some people say, ‘Oh, God, if [Jobs] got run over by a bus, Apple would be in trouble.’ And, you know, I think it wouldn’t be a party, but there are really capable people at Apple.

My job is to make the whole executive team good enough to be successors, so that’s what I try to do.

#6. On Product Strategy

It’s not about pop culture, and it’s not about fooling people, and it’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t. We figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too. That’s what we get paid to do.

We just want to make great products. (I think he means “insanely great products!“)

5 Leadership Mantras

#5. On Leadership

So when a good idea comes, you know, part of my job is to move it around, just see what different people think, get people talking about it, argue with people about it, get ideas moving among that group of 100 people, get different people together to explore different aspects of it quietly, and, you know – just explore things.

#4. On Evangelism

When I hire somebody really senior, competence is the ante. They have to be really smart. But the real issue for me is, Are they going to fall in love with Apple? Because if they fall in love with Apple, everything else will take care of itself.

They’ll want to do what’s best for Apple, not what’s best for them, what’s best for Steve, or anybody else. (this actually reiterates my oft-repeated mantra of “ubiquitous evangelism” in companies)

#3. On Focus

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.

#2. On the User Experience

Our DNA is as a consumer company — for that individual customer who’s voting thumbs up or thumbs down. That’s who we think about. And we think that our job is to take responsibility for the complete user experience. And if it’s not up to par, it’s our fault, plain and simply.

#1. On Creativity

That happens more than you think, because this is not just engineering and science. There is art, too. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of one of these crises, you’re not sure you’re going to make it to the other end. But we’ve always made it, and so we have a certain degree of confidence, although sometimes you wonder.

I think the key thing is that we’re not all terrified at the same time. I mean, we do put our heart and soul into these things.

And, my favorite, which nails the ethos of living the dream at your job (that I’ve written about here)

We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life.

Life is brief, and then you die, you know?

And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.

amen.

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Filed under: Miscellaneous,

What would Steve Jobs blog?

This blog has seen a lot of coverage of my favorite tech obsession – Apple, their iPhone apps (v1.0 and 2.0) and corporate blogging. As you probably know, I edit LinkedIn’s corporate blog and I’m interested in all things corporate blogging. This post combines those two interests of mine.

Some of you marketers may ask yourself the question: “What would Steve Jobs do” when you’re faced with a marketing dilemma? But ask yourself the question: “What would Steve Jobs blog”? Read on, after the jump, to find the answer to that question.

What would Steve Jobs do?

What would Steve Jobs do?

I think we have had the answer to that question on two earlier occasions, remember these letters/”blog posts” from Steve Jobs himself:

1. The Greener Apple memo

2. We’re sorry about the iPhone price memo

And, now to complete the trilogy of posts, I give you…

3. We should have done better with MobileMe internal memo

So, earlier today we have the blogosphere in a tizzy about an internal Apple email from Steve Jobs on the debacle that was the MobileMe launch (read my experience with MobileMe).

I thought this would have been a great MobileMe status blog post, but if you were to break down the email into three parts, here’s what Jobs said.

* Now that launch sucked

- The launch of MobileMe was not our finest hour.  There are several things we could have done better:

* We could have done better. We’re Apple. (And, I couldn’t agree more)

– MobileMe was simply not up to Apple’s standards – it clearly needed more time and testing.

* The Future is bright. Lessons learned. (Read Om’s great piece on the topic)

– It was a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store.  We all had more than enough to do, and MobileMe could have been delayed without consequence.

- The MobileMe launch clearly demonstrates that we have more to learn about Internet services.  And learn we will.  The vision of MobileMe is both exciting and ambitious, and we will press on to make it a service we are all proud of by the end of this year.

Now, even if someone reveals this email’s a hoax, I think this is a great example of how CEOs should blog – internally or externally – in response to a crisis. Do you have other examples? Here’s an earlier post I wrote on when CEOs should blog.

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Filed under: Business Blogging,

Breaking bread with Steve Jobs at Lunch

Or should I say, breaking bread while at lunch… with Steve Jobs at the next table. For those of you who’re looking for something related to marketing or technology, you may want to skip this post and check out my next one on social networking. Well, today as I was having lunch with a good friend of mine at Apple’s Headquarters Cafeteria in Cupertino, and in walks Steve Jobs with Jonathan Ive at around 1:00 PM, probably right after Steve’s company wide meeting (earlier that day) and then proceeds to grab a table right next to my friend and me! Nice.


Source: via Fake Steve Jobs via iPhone Matters

Speaking of the company wide meeting earlier yesterday where Jobs announced a free iPhone to every full time employee at Apple, yet again, Steve proved why he’s a genius when it comes to drawing the perfect analogies in reducing even complex strategy into the simplest form – Zen style.

He then talked about iPhone in relation to the rest of Apple’s business. Steve described it as trying to put the third leg onto a chair with only two legs. The first leg is the Mac business, which Steve addressed by saying that they have the “best Macs” in the new product pipeline ever right now, and that the stuff coming out in the next year is “off the charts.” Wow, sounds juicy.

He said that the second leg is the iPod and iTunes marketplace, which we all know has been wildly successful. The third leg of the chair, Steve hopes, will be the iPhone business, which he hopes to grow into something as strong as the iPod. He added that he hopes for the fourth leg to become the Apple TV, but focus is on the iPhone for now. This reiterates previous reports that Steve Jobs viewed the Apple TV as more of an experiment than a total dive into the set-top space.

Now, this may sound silly for many, but for someone like me who came to America six years ago believing in the meritocracy preached by Jack Welch, motivated by the marketing genius of Steve Jobs, and being someone who moved to the Silicon Valley the day after graduation to immerse myself in the technology mecca; seeing Steve Jobs yesterday at lunch made my day.

Of course, I didn’t have the courage to walk over to Steve and say that the the Mac evangelist campaign (check out the Mac evangelist page in 1997) is probably the reason I am a community evangelist today and instead here I am gushing on my blog.

Filed under: About Mario Sundar,

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