When Ideas Hit the Air Tour: Steve Jobs and David Karp

Letter Cloud - Airworks Studio

Photo Credit: airworksstudio.blogspot.com

By Yonatan Gordon

Since we mentioned the ability for ideas to become marketable once they “hit the air,” let’s now bring another example to explain further.

Tuning In

While ideas may travel through the “air,” how can we be sure that our dial is turned to the right signal?

We bring writings from Seth Godin, not for his ability to present and market himself. Instead, for some reason, he tends to more closely approximate the frequency of the signal more than others. But he is not the only one. Malcolm Gladwell has come out with some compelling work, as well as others that we have mentioned on our blog. But for every step forward in the right direction, there are other statements from these personalities that miss the mark.

When we think of ideas, it’s helpful to think of them as two types of being or existence; there is the state of possible being (אֶפְשָׁרִי הַמְצִיאוּת), or that of necessary being (מְחוּיָב הַמְצִיאוּת). Man’s existence is possible, whereas God’s existence is necessary and true. By nurturing the power of commitment in our soul, we grow closer to being a part of God’s necessary existence. Without the ability to commit to the Torah, our very being remains only possible.

So when we say that something approximates a concept, this is what we mean. When Mark Cuban, Ken Robinson and others, say that what matters most is not a degree or the words on a resume, then it means these papers are not necessarily things. The challenge then is to find out what true education and achievement is all about.

The reason good ideas fade over time, is not because they’re not good ideas. Just that they are possible, and an approximation around the true and necessary center. Once we have our anchor, it’s very easy to tell which stories are closer to the target, and which are not.

Here’s another story from May 21st that came pretty close…

3 Leadership Lessons From Tumblr’s David Karp

The article itself makes parallels between Tumblr CEO David Karp and Steve Jobs, so we thought to do the same. Like our previous article, we’re going to do some copying and pasting now. This time our article will be “Where Should Apple Go From Here (Apple Turnaround Series, Part 1).” If you click onto both original articles, you can see that we didn’t change the order of any of the content!

ENTREPRENEUR.COM: 1. Find your ‘idea editor.’

Entrepreneurs who have big ideas sometimes need to bounce those ideas off someone they can trust. Tumblr was Karp’s vision. Although he hired Arment to help with coding and other back-end duties, Karp often used Arment as a sounding board.

OUR SITE: Expecting Miracles

The process of developing products is tedious to put it lightly. Each seeming advance or surge forward, is met with a corresponding (or even more powerful) setback. Perhaps the most noticeable thing over the years at Apple was that the end result always seemed miraculous. The road to get there, however, came as the result of countless hours of brainstorm sessions and development.

As Glenn Reid wrote recently in his essay “What it’s Really Like Working with Steve Jobs,” the development of each product entailed “…hard work, thoughtful design, and constant iteration.” This is what makes a real miracle: effort, toil, perseverance…

With all the fanfare that surrounded each new product release, perhaps we lost sight of things that drove the engine. It’s about believing in the impossible, then somehow finding a way to make it happen. As Glenn continues, “It is a process which requires understanding the parameters, the goals, and the gives and takes. Stretch what’s possible, use technologies that are good, rein it in when the time comes, polish it and ship it.”

ENTREPRENEUR.COM: 2. Don’t try to do everything yourself.

There comes a time for many startups when an entrepreneur simply cannot manage every task on his or her own. Everything from product development to scaling the business to grunt work can simply become too much for one person to handle adequately.

By 2008, Karp’s desire to focus solely on product development pushed him to hire a president to handle the business operations. And as the Tumblr team continued to grow, Karp needed to learn how to be a leader.

OUR SITE: When Ideas Materialize

Note: While a good soup takes many ingredients, too many cooks can spoil the broth.

If we want to give advice to Apple, we first need to appreciate what makes an idea happen. On the one hand, it seems to rain down upon the person (hence the term “brainstorm”). But many people have ideas … the test is in knowing which ones to keep and develop further.

A good product manager (or idea manager) is one who can sift out the good ideas from the dross. This sense has to do with seeing the potential in something. Instead of being enthralled by the thought, they are most driven by the ability to materialize or thicken something pulled out of “thin air.” As with a chef who knows just the right ingredients to include in each recipe, the good product manager knows what will bring sustenance to his consumers.

ENTREPRENEUR.COM: 3. When leading a team, “channel your inner Steve Jobs (or David Karp)”.

Getting a big startup idea off the ground takes lots of work. Entrepreneurs who hire smart and passionate people, and who inspire those people to exceed their expectations, can increase their chances for success.

At Tumblr, Karp has been ultra-passionate about the product and about the people who use it since the very beginning, according to Arment. He expects his team members to share his enthusiasm and to work hard.

OUR SITE: The Making of a Company

As we mentioned at the start, the fact that the media is casting doubt about the future of Apple itself presents a unique opportunity. Prior to this, Apple may have been in the lead … but true leadership comes through overcoming obstacles. This is the time for Apple to redefine who they are and what they stand for; it’s a time to connect more deeply to their founding principles, and surge forward to the next leg of the journey.

The difference between the deliberations that take place during product development, and the public response to the media, represents two aspects of the same concept. While private deliberations are conducted behind closed doors, the ultimate intention is that new ideas and products withstand media pressure. While the culmination of product strategy seems to be the release date, this is not so. The true outcome is whether each new product can overcome the doubts of the media. Success doesn’t come from the throngs of Apple fans that stand in line waiting for the newest release. It comes from the pundits who are perusing the scene for signs of weakness.


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