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Apple’s Jony Ive on Two Lessons He Learned From Steve Jobs

I’ve been revisiting a very well-known clip.

Graydon Carter interviewed Apple’s Jony Ive for Vanity Fair.

Jony shared a few key lessons he learned from Steve Jobs.

Two of them are so very well worth reflecting on, again and again and again.

Simple but rare: the art of focus

This sounds really simplistic, but it still shocks me how few people actually practice this. And it’s a struggle to practice. But it is this issue of focus.
Steve was the most remarkably focused person I’ve ever met in my life. And the thing with focus is it’s not sort of like this thing you aspire to or you decide on Monday “You know what, I’m going to be focused.” It is an every minute a, “why are we talking about this? This is what we’re working on.”
You can achieve so much when you truly focus. And one of the things that Steve would say, because I think he was concerned that I wasn’t. He would say, “How many things have you said no to?” And I would, honestly, I would have these sacrificial things. Because I mean, I want to be very honest about it. And so I say what “I said no to this, and no to that,” but he knew that I wasn’t vaguely interested in doing those things anyway. So there was no real sacrifice.
What focus means is saying no to something that you want with every bone in your body; you think is a phenomenal idea. And you wake up thinking about it, but you say no to it, because you’re focusing on something else.

Apple’s Jony Ive on the Lessons He Learned From Steve Jobs | Vanity Fair

Choose to be kind, rather than nice

And then the third one is an interesting one, which actually reflects a little bit poorly on myself.

I remember having a conversation with him and I was asking why, it could have been perceived that in his critique of a piece of work, he was a little harsh. And, “you know, we’ve been working on this, we put our heart and soul into this.” And I was saying, “you know, couldn’t we be a little bit more…? Could we not moderate the things we said a little better?” And, and he said, “Well, why?” And I said, “Well, you know, because I care about the team.”

He said this brutally brilliantly insightful thing.

He said “No, Jony, you’re just really vain.”

And he said, “No, you just want people to like you. And I’m surprised at you because I thought you really held the work up as the most important, not how you believed that you were perceived by other people.”

And I was terribly cross because I knew he was right.

Apple’s Jony Ive on the Lessons He Learned From Steve Jobs | Vanity Fair