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“The Power of Taking Chances”

October 11, 2011

The New York Times is one my favorite sources of news, not because I love what they have to say, but because it seems like the Times is just about the last place where actual journalism is practiced. The quality of their articles is higher than almost any other daily news publication in the country. While not every article is of exceptional quality, the quality bar is set pretty high. Today’s article for discussion is “The Power of Taking the Big Chance,” in the Times, by Steve Lohr.

Covering Steve Jobs’ life and legacy has been the mandatory topic in nearly every news source since last week. The volume of content about Jobs is simply staggering. Not to be left out, I’ve highlighted some of that content in this blog, as well, in both Little Blue Boxes and A Note On Steve Jobs. Clearly, quality content continues to be produced because I am going to highlight another Jobs article today.

“The Power of Taking the Big Chance” explores Jobs’ performance as a risk-taker, willing to take a chance and fail rather than settle for the ordinary. It is this aspect of Jobs that resonated with me and motivated me to discuss this article on todaysnote. Lohr is compelling in defining Jobs visionary product legacy, “His track record as a business team leader is unique — as Apple’s Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad testify“, as fair payoff for many risks taken. [As always, words in italics denote quotes from the article, and all italics are added by me]

The inventory of those risks, and their results, is as noteworthy as the product legacy. Jobs was run out of Apple once, to return later in the NeXT acquisition. Lohr also describes a last minute iPhone touch screen change that required “extra investment and a frenetic work regimen,” but could not be avoided during the quest to delight the customer.

Finally, Jobs’ admonition to bring your passion to your work stands out in this article, as it does many others. It is best articulated in the following excerpt from Lohr’s article:

Andy Hertzfeld, a member of original Macintosh team who is now an engineer at Google, says: “The most important thing that I learned from Steve is to always follow your heart. He believed that the only way to do truly great work is to adore what you are doing.”

For purposes of full disclosure, much of the NY Times material lives behind a “paywall.” These days, you seem to be able to read a limited number of articles before the Times hits you up for a subscription, but access is limited. Frankly, the content is probably worth the subscription, but I don’t subscribe. My tightfistedness need not be seen to lessen the esteem in which I hold the Times’ journalism. As for this article, I highly recommend it, which you already knew because if I didn’t I wouldn’t have prattled on about it for so long. Enjoy.


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