The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs

The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs reveals how to get rid of the “crappy stuff”.

Last year, my father-in-law gave me The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs as a great Christmas gift (see my book review). This year, he put a copy of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs (McGraw-Hill, 2010, ISBN 978-0071748759) under the tree (My father-in-law and I share a love for business books). Although author Carmine Gallo focuses on Steve Jobs and Apple, he rounds out his analysis using leaders from other industries using similar innovation secrets. The book is organized into seven “secrets”:

  1. Do what you love
  2. Put a dent in the universe
  3. Kick-start your brain
  4. Sell dreams, not product
  5. Say no to 1,000 things
  6. Create insanely great experiences
  7. Master the message

People who create business intelligence solutions, whether data models, semantic layers, reports, or dashboards, will find a lot of thought-provoking material.  The “secret” that resonated with me most was “say no to 1,000 things”. Steve Jobs has said “I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.” From non-existent products like an Apple PDA to non-existent physical keyboards on an iPhone, Apple’s fresh approaches to product design are frequently criticized for not having enough options. But clearly, Apple has created devices that change the way we live. Model T automobiles instead of faster horses.

Imagine for a moment that you designed a performance dashboard for Apple and had the final review with Steve Jobs (Personally, I find this thought terrifying). Would he say something like “[Your business intelligence team] makes some of the best [dashboards] in the world. [Dashboards] that you lust after. Absolutely beautiful, stunning [dashboards]. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff”?

My frustration about this book isn’t about the book at all. It’s about me. I can read a book like Presentation Secrets and measure over time if I’m becoming a better communicator. But “Innovation Secrets”? How does one measure and improve their own personal KPI for innovation? How do I get rid of the “crappy stuff”? It’s tremendously difficult, even though Mr. Gallo provides action items at the end of each chapter.

This week is certainly an interesting one to write a book review about Steve Jobs. With financial markets closed for Martin Luther King Day, we learned on Monday that 55-year-old Mr. Jobs will go on medical leave for a second time. Then on Tuesday we hear about record quarterly earnings for Apple, surpassing analysts’ estimates by $2 billion dollars. All of this is followed by the deluge of rhetorical articles about “whether Apple can survive without Steve Jobs.”  Although Steve Jobs has many gifts, he- like us- does not possess the gift of immortality (check out his 2005 Stanford University commencement address on YouTube). The universe has a way of moving ahead without us. But like Steve Jobs, we can all make a best effort at “putting a dent in the universe”.

Or at least a dent in the common semantic layer.

Have you read The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs?  Share your thoughts below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

If your career involves communicating and connecting with an audience, large or small, this book is an excellent addition to your bookshelf.

My father-in-law gave me a great Christmas gift- a copy of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience (McGraw-Hill, 2009, ISBN 978-0071636087). I spend about half of my career using presentation skills, either as a business intelligence instructor, conference speaker, or technical sales consultant.  So I was really pumped that he got something I really wanted but forgot to put on my Christmas wish list.


The book is a nicely structured analysis of one of the technology world’s most fascinating personalities, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.  The author, Carmine Gallo, is a professional communication skills coach.  He takes readers through the entire lifecycle of a Steve Jobs presentation, starting from planning (“Create the Story”), delivery (“Deliver the Experience”) and preparation (“Refine and Rehearse”).  There are other books that focus on creating slides or giving demos – this book is comprehensive and covers the entire experience.

Steve Jobs speaks to a general audience and Mr. Gallo writes frequently about how Steve communicates about technical features in a non-technical way.  For example, the original iPod was “1,000 songs that fit into your pocket“, not “a digital audio player with a 5 GB hard drive”.  In contrast, I’m usually speaking to a technical audience that wants a deep understanding of technology – they’re not looking to buy anything.  So not all of the material translates to what I do.  But regardless of what kind of presenter you are, holding the audience’s attention is the first order of business.  The book has already influenced how I communicate to non-technical audiences, especially when I train business users how to use SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence.  And I’m looking forward to giving the book a second reading.  I’ll also be checking out the hours of Steve Jobs presentations on YouTube.  And editing my recent GBN 2009 presentations for a second go-around with other audiences.

If your career involves communicating and connecting with an audience, large or small, this book is an excellent addition to your bookshelf.

Have you read The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs? Share your thoughts below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as a gift, not from the publisher. It was not a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”