If I Could Meet One Entrepreneur…

April 24, 2009

question_markYoungEntrepreneur is running a poll today for its readers.  The question, “If you could meet one famous entrepreneur, dead or alive, who would it be?”

For me, it’s an easy one.  I want to pick someone who built something from scratch, someone who challenged the system, and someone who continued to innovate all the way to the top.  And though it may seem somewhat obvious, I would not change my answer for anything in the world.

It’s Steve Jobs.

I have discussed the lifelong innovator before on this blog, and for good reason.  As an avid enthusiast of all things creative, I have to appreciate the work that he and Steve Wozniak did in creating Apple.  They saw something that no one else did in the area of computing.  They did what many people, even people in the industry, said was not possible and not “profitable”.  They created a personal computer that people could actually use.  And not only that, people wanted to use it.

Since then, Jobs has continued his journey with Apple at the speed of light, battling with Microsoft to gain market share over PC’s, adding the iPod to everybody’s list of must have gadgets, and successfully launching a smart phone with AT&T.

Through it all, Steve has fought his own battle with cancer.  I have great respect for Steve Jobs, and think that spending a few hours picking his brain on topics ranging from managing a growing company, to brainstorming new ideas, to successfully launching products, would be a great experience for any would be entrepreneur.

If you had to choose, who would you want to meet?  Share it with me in the comments section below, or hop on over to the real poll at YoungEntrepreneur.com and add your answer there.


Steve Jobs to Take Over at GM

February 23, 2009

gm_chrys_fordIt looks like there is a different reason for Steve Jobs’ leave of absence from Apple than was first reported, a spot at the head of the American Auto Industry.  Not really, but that is the suggestion that a recent open letter to the President brought up.

Posted on TechCrunch, the letter written by Todd Dagres suggests that the one thing that the auto industry needs, along with this bailout, is an innovative leader with the ability to think outside the box.  Someone we should use as a model, Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs has the ability to see the big picture, outside what is being offered to the public.  He has always done right by his employees, his shareholders, and most importantly, his customers.  His innovative spirit has made the companies he leads forward looking, creative, and successful.  And the truth is, we need to be describing the auto industry in the same way.

Here is a short piece from the letter:

“It is time for us to put tax payer money behind an executive capable of transforming the automotive industry. I respectfully submit that neither the current leadership behind these companies nor government officials are the answer. We need entrepreneurs, consumer product savants and creative managers capable of effecting change. We need great leaders who can transform cars into computers rather than horse-less carriages.”

I tend to agree with the thoughts presented in the letter, and as someone who spoke out against the idea of bailing out failed companies, would see this type of solution as a positive step.  We do need to rethink the auto industry, as failed practices continue to hurt the market and foreign car companies continue to outpace us.  Technology has offered solutions that have previously been only figments of our imagination.  From fuel to design, from function to form, things need to change fast to bring these companies back to the head of the field. And who better to lead a technology innovation than a tech genius like Jobs, or anyone else at the cutting edge of technology and Silicon Valley.

I recommend giving the letter a read.  For the full text, click here.  Tell me what you think in the comments area below.  Thank you for the suggestions Mr. Dagres.

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Can One Innovator Lead to Another (And does it matter?)

August 17, 2008

Companies founded on innovation and creativity have thrived in this world from the dawn of time.  It’s easy to see that, and easy to see why.  The world needs people and businesses to come up with the new gadgets, devices, products, foods, and services that take us to the next level.  What’s the next great thing, and when do we get to have it?

Sometimes it can be tough to tell, however, if the company is innovative, or just the founder or CEO at the time.  And there can be a big difference, especially moving forward past that individual person’s tenure.

The best example I can see is Apple.  I have mentioned them before, and they continue to stand out as a truly innovative company in every move they make.  And at the top of all of that is Steve Jobs, probably one of the greatest innovators of our time.  But we saw once already that without Steve Jobs at the helm, Apple suffered.  They became less exciting, and created less change.  They became stagnant.

How can a company set themselves up for future success, even after their heralded leader has moved on?  This is a question facing companies like Apple.  And the truth is, there is no surefire way to make it happen.  Potential successors may all be extremely well qualified, bright individuals.  But to replicate successful innovation from one CEO to the next is never a guarantee.

It’s a dangerous game you play when an innovative company becomes boring.  Loyal fans and customers are sure to notice.  Shareholders run scared, employees may lose focus, and everything the company built is in jeopardy.  For a company founded on innovation, a life without innovation cannot exist.

Steve Jobs will not be at Apple forever, and where will they go when he leaves this time?  In my opinion, Steve Jobs last job at Apple will be to secure a successor that is not only qualified, but shares with him the passion for new technology. 

And if it hasn’t started already, the best time to start looking is now.  Build a relationship up with your potential successor and show him the way.  Lend him your vision and knowledge of the industry and allow him to be great.  Then sit back and see if it works out, because you can do all the preparation in the world, but performance will define the future.


“Good Enough” is Never Good Enough

June 27, 2008

Innovators are defined by their need to constantly make things better.  Anyone who uses the phrase, “good enough” will never be looked at as an innovator.  That phrase should be struck from your vocabulary if you want to call yourself an innovator.

Do you think Steve Jobs would stop making the iPod better because it is good enough?  Do you think Honda will stop working with Hydrogen Fuel Technology because gas is good enough?  Do you think Google will ever stop working on their search engine because it is good enough?

If you ever want to create something that is truly outstanding, take a lesson from the great innovators and minds of our time, never give up.  Things can always be better, faster, more useful.  Things can always improve in some way.  Never stop inventing, for the job of an innovator is never over.