Focus and causality: two lingering lessons from Steve Jobs biography

Two themes run across the dense and well-timed Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson that came out last fall.

The unfaltering focus and dependable insensitivity of Jobs, so, having just finished it myself, I’ve been left trying to find causality: did those two qualities make him a better CEO and Apple a better company?

For focus, I believe it’s unquestionable: make fewer products and make them better. It’s the complete opposite of the market share angle of, say, spaghetti sauces. The second has me more uncertain, particularly when the success of Jobs is seen as motivation to drive employees to the edge.

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Steve Jobs: ‘I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers’ [VIDEO]

In honor of the passing of Steve Jobs, I was trolling through videos of the Apple co-founder. I came across one that was very relevant to the news industry today.

More than a year ago, Steve Jobs spoke about the iPad and Apple’s broad role in touching publishing and journalism, during a broader interview at the D8 conference.

At 1:50 in the below video, watch highlights of Jobs talking about his relationship with news and follow the quote below.

“One of my beliefs, very strongly, is that any democracy depends on a free, healthy press…. Some of these papers — news and editorial gathering organizations — are really important. I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers myself. I think we need editorial more than ever right now. Anything that we can do to help the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and other news gathering organizations find new ways of expression so they can afford to get paid, so they can afford to keep their news gathering editorial operations in tact, I’m all for. What we have to do is figure out a way to get people to start paying for this hard earned content. So [the tablet industry] provides us an opportunity to offer something more than just a web page and to start charging something for that. I’m trying to get these folks to take more aggressive postures than what they traditionally charged for print because they don’t have the expenses of printing, they don’t have the expenses of delivery and to charge a reasonable price and go for volume. I think people are willing to pay for content.”