Sunday, November 15, 2015
Several years ago an Indiana Law alum told me about a video on the Internet that I needed to watch. It was a 1997 Q&A session with Steve Jobs at a conference of Apple developers. Jobs had been fired by the Apple board 12 years earlier but at the time of the video had just been rehired to help turn the company around.
"It's amazing because Jobs essentially describes cloud computing and smartphones nearly a decade before they had entered the market," the alum, who was very successful in business, told me. "To turn them into actual products, Jobs talks about the power of focus and the necessity of always working backwards from the customer. This video is important because it reveals the Jobs playbook before anyone knew it was actually going to work."
Back in my home office, I watched the video several times. And every six months or so I have watched it again (like this morning) to help me evaluate the extent to which I have internalize the core insights. As it turns out, focus and working backwards from students and clients is not my natural mode of thinking. Fortunately, as the video suggests, Jobs developed this mindset through the gradual process of trial and error. In short, it was learned.
The November issue of The American Lawyer contains an essay where I review the Jobs video and apply its core insights to the struggle over market share that is enveloping the large law firm sector. I think my essay is good, but the video itself is timeless. Hence, I am posting the video on The Legal Whiteboard. If you are interested in why most things fail, but a handful of things succeed in a really big way, I encourage you to watch it.
(H/T Pete Yonkman, Indiana Law '98).