The number of people I get to interact with in this company is probably about 50 on a regular basis. Maybe 100. And one of the things that I’ve always felt is that most things in life, if you get something twice as good as average you’re doing phenomenally well. Usually the best is about 30% better than average. Two to one’s a big delta. But what became really clear to me in my work life was that, for instance, [Steve] Wozniak was 25 to 50 times better than average. And I found that there were these incredibly great people at doing certain things, and you couldn’t replace one of these people with 50 average people. They could just do stuff that no number of average people could do. […]. And so I have spent my work life trying to find and recruit and retain and work with these kind of people. My #1 job here at Apple is to make sure that the top 100 people are A+ players. And everything else will take care of itself.
We’ve got 25,000 people at Apple. About 10,000 of them are in the stores. And my job is to work with sort of the top 100 people, that’s what I do. That doesn’t mean they’re all vice presidents. Some of them are just key individual contributors. So when a good idea comes, you know, part of my job is to move it around, just see what different people think, get people talking about it, argue with people about it, get ideas moving among that group of 100 people, get different people together to explore different aspects of it quietly, and, you know – just explore things.
Steve Jobs, 2008
You just make the best product you can, and you don’t put it out until you feel it’s right. But no matter what you think intellectually, your heart is beating pretty fast right before people see what you’ve produced.
Steve Jobs, 1989
Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.
Steve Jobs, 1998
(Does it take insane people to make insanely great things?) Actually, making an insanely great product has a lot to do with the process of making the product, how you learn things and adopt new ideas and throw out old ideas. But, yeah, the people who made Mac are sort of on the edge.
Steve Jobs, 1985
People say sometimes, ‘You work in the fastest-moving industry in the world.’ I don’t feel that way. I think I work in one of the slowest. It seems to take forever to get anything done. All of the graphical-user interface stuff that we did with the Macintosh was pioneered at Xerox PARC and with Doug Engelbart at SRI in the mid-’70s. And here we are, just about the mid-’90s, and it’s kind of commonplace now. But it’s about a 10-to-20-year lag. That’s a long time.
Steve Jobs, 1994
You know, my philosophy is, it’s always been very simple. And it has its flaws, which I’ll go into. My philosophy is that everything starts with a great product. So, you know, I obviously believed in listening to customers, but customers can’t tell you about the next breakthrough that’s going to happen next year that’s going to change the whole industry. So you have to listen very carefully. But then you have to go and sort of stow away, you have to go hide away with people that really understand the technology, but also really care about the customers, and dream up this next breakthrough. And that’s my perspective, that everything starts with a great product. And that has its flaws. I have certainly been accused of not listening to the customers enough. And I think there is probably a certain amount of that that’s valid.
Steve Jobs, 1985