Posts Tagged: insanely simple

Jun 16

Heroes of simplicity: Ron Johnson

My new book, Think Simple, will be published on June 7th. While my previous book focused on the power of simplicity as practiced by Steve Jobs and Apple, the new one goes further. I sought out more than 40 practitioners of simplicity in a range of companies around the world. Here’s one of them…

ronjohnsonIf you follow Apple, you probably know the Ron Johnson story. He’s the guy Steve Jobs brought in when he decided that Apple needed a retail presence.

Steve was impressed with Ron’s resume. After all, Ron was the guy who transformed Target from a fledgling department store to something more contemporary. He turned it into a cooler place to shop.

So Ron put together a team and worked with Steve to develop the Apple Store concept, and he credits the success of the stores to the power of simplicity. I spent a morning with Ron talking about the days when the Apple Store was just a germ of an idea.

He explained that a clear mission is an essential element of simplicity, and so the first order of business was creating a mission for the Apple Stores. It was wonderfully stark: “Enhance lives.”

That’s what Apple products were about, and the Apple Stores would be the place where customers come face-to-face with the Apple brand.

When a company has a simple mission, decisions come easy. Continue reading →

May 12

An insanely good week

In theory, I’ll stop blabbing about my book Insanely Simple sometime soon. But hey, I’m a first-time author. Let me have just a few days to be giddy. This thing has been so much fun, I thought I’d share the adventure.

As you are no doubt aware, the Apple crowd picks up on things quickly. The buzz was so good, my book hit #75 on Amazon on the first day. I’m truly thankful to all who were interested enough to actually hit the Buy button.

Launch day started with an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box. Only problem was that I had to be at the CNBC studios in NJ at 6:00 am — which meant being up at 4:00. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen that hour in 20 years. There’s no prep at all for these things. You show up, they plunk you down in a chair and start counting down from five. Suddenly you’re on live TV. But the way this show works — with three talkative hosts — I quickly felt at ease. It felt kind of like sitting in a living room talking with friends. See this segment here. (But to get the full effect, set your alarm for 6:00 am and then watch it.) Continue reading →

Apr 12

Insanely Simple: new Apple book sneak peek

It’s almost showtime.

My book, Insanely Simple, will be shipping right on schedule in less than three weeks. April 26th, to be exact.

In case you haven’t heard, the book is about how Apple’s focus on simplicity has helped shape every aspect of the company. It’s based on my own experiences as an ad agency creative director, working with Steve Jobs, Apple and some of its competitors. (See my earlier article for more about the book.)

Pre-orders have been terrific. But I have to ask myself: what kind of ad man would I be if I didn’t come up with some kind of “special offer” to lure a few more into pre-ordering before launch day?

Buy five, get one free? Nah. Free iPad with every purchase? Tempting.

No, wait, I’ve got it. How about a free chapter, no strings attached? Continue reading →

Feb 12

And now, a different kind of Apple book

True confession time:

I’ve written a book.

Something tells me you won’t be surprised when I tell you it’s about Steve Jobs and Apple. But this book is different. Really.

That’s because (a) I had a unique vantage point to some pivotal events in Apple history, and (b) this book focuses on one thing alone — the core value that has driven Apple since the beginning.

Insanely Simple is about Apple’s obsession with Simplicity.

You can see Simplicity in everything Apple does: the way it organizes, innovates and communicates. In fact, one could argue that it was Steve’s unrelenting passion for Simplicity that helped Apple rise from near-death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011.

My observations come from over 12 years of experience as Steve’s agency creative director, from NeXT to Apple. Also relevant to my story are the years I spent on the agency team during John Sculley’s rule at Apple. And then I had some interesting (and often excruciating) experiences in the worlds of Dell, Intel and IBM — which made me even more conscious of what sets Apple apart.

To Steve Jobs, Simplicity was a religion. But it was also a weapon — one that he used to humble competitors once thought to be invincible.

Apple’s devotion to Simplicity is the one constant that can be traced from the first Apple II computer all the way to today’s iPad. Though the company’s success is built upon engineering and design skills, it’s the love of Simplicity that truly powers Apple, revolution after revolution.

Technically, this is a business book. The idea is that in a complicated world, nothing stands out like Simplicity. If you better understand how Apple’s obsession has driven its success, you can adopt the same principles to boost your own organization — or your own career.

That said, Insanely Simple is a general interest book too. It’s a fun read for anyone who’d like to know what it was like to work in Steve’s world during the rebirth of Apple. It will give you a better understanding of what makes Apple Apple.

Crass salesmanship alert: I think you’ll like it. In my book, as I do in my blog, I use my personal experiences with Apple, NeXT and other companies to illustrate the power of Simplicity — and to warn of the evils of Complexity. Many of my stories have never been told publicly, so you’ll find more than a few surprises.

There’s a bit more about the book here.

Insanely Simple is available April 26th, but you gain extra appreciation points if you pre-order — which you can do at iBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and 800-CEO-read.

Last, I invite you to join my new mail list over there in the sidebar. I promise not to abuse the privilege, and I’d love to make you part of my secret club.

Thanks all!