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72 Minute MBA

Written on July 09, 2012 by Posted in Thoughts

I love watching documentaries. Tuesdays when new movies typically debut, I flock to iTunes or Netflix to see what’s new in the Documentary genre. The last two I watched were Something Ventured (which was awesome and incredibly inspiring) and Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview.

Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview is, not surprisingly, an incredibly interesting interview that took place in 1995. After the interview was filmed, it was thought to be lost and was only recently recovered. You can read plenty on how the video was found here. The interview-turned-documentary is essentially about Steve Jobs and his mindset back in those days.

Whether or not you’re a Steve Jobs fan, he is arguably the best business person who has lived in my time—a person I, along with millions of others, look up to. Why? Because he did it. He was literally fired from Apple, a company he founded, and was replaced by a person whom he brought in as an early partner. Despite the circumstances, Steve Jobs ultimately reclaimed the throne of Apple and turned a very ailing company into the influential tech giant it is today. He overcame adversity and did it. Many, many business books and ideas are being thrown into the media mix every day, but the problem I find with a lot of them is that they are written by people who havent done it—”it” meaning really lived in the shoes of a business owner/entrepreneur. These are people who write about theory and not reality. When someone who has built an empire talks, you listen, and for 72 minutes I did.

This candid interview is like a mini MBA on business in just over an hour. Job’s metaphors are excellent, and they provide very relatable and useful direction for anyone leading a company.

I especially like the following lesson. This alone is worth the price of admission:

And so we had a lot of great ideas when we started [the Mac]. But what I’ve always felt that a team of people doing something they really believe in is like, is like when I was a young kid there was a widowed man that lived up the street. He was in his eighties. He was a little scary looking. And I got to know him a little bit. I think he may have paid me to mow his lawn or something.

And one day he said to me, “come on into my garage, I want to show you something.” And he pulled out this dusty old rock tumbler. It was a motor and a coffee can and a little band between them. And he said, “come on with me.” We went out into the back and we got just some rocks. Some regular old ugly rocks. And we put them in the can with a little bit of liquid and little bit of grit powder, and we closed the can up and he turned this motor on and he said, “come back tomorrow.”

And this can was making a racket as the stones went around.

And I came back the next day, and we opened the can. And we took out these amazingly beautiful polished rocks. The same common stones that had gone in, through rubbing against each other like this (clapping his hands), creating a little bit of friction, creating a little bit of noise, had come out these beautiful polished rocks.

That’s always been, in my mind, my metaphor for a team working really hard on something they’re passionate about. It’s that through the team, through that group of incredibly talented people bumping up against each other, having arguments, having fights sometimes, making some noise, and working together, they polish each other and they polish the ideas, and what comes out are these really beautiful stones.

The video below can be rented from YouTube or iTunes for $3.99. Trust me, give up your coffee and bagel tomorrow morning and watch it. It will be well worth it.