Return to the Little Kingdom, by Michael Moritz
This is a book by Michael Moritz that gives, with exquisite detail, an unrivalled insight into the early days of apple, the lives of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, and all the trials and tribulations that seemed to be ever-present. Personally, large parts of the book did not interest me, such as chapters about computer chips, deep stats and ‘scout club’ rules. I quickly glanced over theses pages in a matter of minutes, just to get a rough idea of the topic. (This incidentally, is how I do a lot of my reading. It saves me hours and hours of time, but more importantly, it keeps those little brain muscles from tiring to quickly)
But aside from this, the text is very readable, it provokes many eye-opening thoughts and triggers some interesting images in one’s mind. After reading this, I almost feel that I personally know both Jobs and Wozniak on a deep level. Jobs, with his eccentric style but at the same time, introverted mind. His meticulous eye for perfection that will accept no compromise. His love of unique thinking, people and cultural behaviours that includes experimentations with LSD, deep meditation and bare-footed walking.
And of course, Wozniak. Who again, was undoubtedly another introvert, who had been cast into an eccentric role, a very public lifestyle. His uniqueness however, never left him. His unusual style, love of pranks, engineering brain, rashful thinking and loneliness, was always displaying itself in some form or another.
Michael Moritz (the author), also goes very deep into the nitty gritty about Apple’s early days. He carries this right through to roughly 2010. Some of the takeaway’s you will invariably get from these precious paragraphs, are these:
- Great things take time. If they happen quickly, lessons are not usually learnt. And more mistakes will be made.
- But mistakes, will always be made anyway, at least decisions are being made!
- There is no I in a company, no matter what it appears. There is only We. Apple was created by pretty much 3-4 guys who carried the flag early on. These were Steve Wozniak, Scot Miller (Scotty), Mike Markkula, and Steve Jobs. These folks were the CORE of apple’s vision in the early days, right up to the early 90’s. And I haven’t even mentioned the other buyers, investors and men who also had a very important role in the beginning. But that is for me to know and for you to read.
What’ll follow now, is some of my notes and favourite parts of the book. These are quotes, thoughts and pieces of text that are pretty powerful. There is no real order here, so don’t expect it all to make sense. For some I’ll offer explanation, some i won’t…
Jobs on his ‘no compromise’ attitude: “It would be better to miss the planned date, than release something that is not the right thing.”
Jobs on making beautiful products: “We want to make books that are gorgeous, that you read once and keep on your shelf because they look so great.”
An early Apple Employee: “It the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the hours are long and very tiring. But I know we are working on something special. We have a major opportunity to steer where apple is going. It may be the hardest thing I’ve done but it’s also the most fun I’ve had in my life.
From the very beginning, Jobs and a few others, wanted to use up every single piece of free space. They spent hundreds of hours compacting chips together, and finding ways to squeeze power into pockets. This, some would say, was the beginning of smartphones, tiny devices and SDHC.
“On all good lives, some rain must fall”
Jobs, according to some, was never really comfortable with his role as CEO, both stints (he was sacked half way through his life), but especially the first. He was deeply into higher-thinking, tinkered with the use of recreational drugs and meditated in lotus pose regularly. “I just wanted to find out what life was all about”, he was once quoted when asked about his peculiar behaviours. He knew that the apple limelight would take him away from peace, the higher conscious, and the life he half-craved. He contemplated leaving it all and going to live in the Himalayan mountains or some secluded village in little Tibet. The decision he eventually made though, was really because of 2 things. One was his passion for technology. The second was that nobody was doing what he envisioned, so it was a necessity that he scratch his own itch.
An insider referring to Wozniak’s stubbornness: “the genius is nothing unless you can get it out of him”. He was a prodigy, but teasing it out was not as easy as one would think.
Jobs on his need to know: “I always had to know why something worked the way it did. What the root looked like. Why it behaved the way it did. I don’t like working on things which don’t make sense.”
A very true statement: “Having friends, is orthogonal to building computers”, said a developer, when quizzed about the apple lifestyle.
How apple cleverly used cheap methods of advertising, to reach the biggest audience. In the same fAshion as Richard Branson, jobs came up with the idea of using hot air balloons to advertise apple.
On apple’s blunder with rushing the production of the Apple II: “We created something that which we didn’t know whether it was good or bad. We didn’t know the language. We did know that it wasn’t solid.”
Jobs became who he did, because he risked everything by letting Apple consume his life. But the diversity between the apple founders is summed up in this paragraph:
“There was Jobs who, though he certainly like money and relished power, virtually fell into place for want of anything else to do; Wozniak, for whom the binary difference between one thousand and one million ways was far clearer than the monetary, derived his chief delight from displaying the power of his machine; Holt, who had never owned thirty thousand dollars in his life, was attracted by the prospect of making a quarter of a million dollars in five years; Markkula, who could not conceal his interest in the computer or his desire to bolster a personal portfolio; and Scott who, more than anything else, wanted to be the president of a company that would leap over the moon.”
“We don’t want to sell a technology machine, we want to sell a machine with a personality. We want people to buy it because of its personality, not because it has good features.”
Steve Jobs had a rather fascinating way to relieve his fatigue. He used the toilet bowl to flush and massage his feet. Weird.
The importance of advertising and letting people know you’re there. “Apple was sold to millions of customers before they ever released a product.” Why? Well, they managed to get publicized in a few influential magazines in which the headline ran: THE BEST COMPUTER IN THE WORLD. It wasn’t an apple knew that, but the use of Dramatisation never fails to hook ones attention.
Unlike their competitors, apple made it a priority to partner with companies, potential competitors and important businesses. With partnerships, what can be done it unthinkable.
The early apple ‘committee’ settled on the following beliefs, qualities and focuses. This speak for itself:
– Positive Social Contribution
– Individual Performance]Team Spirit
– Individual reward
– Good Management
Jobs and other managers where only hiring those who believed in culture, specifically apples culture. “When you hire the right people, they fit right into the culture and because of this, they don’t need to be managed. They are self-managing.” Great people don’t need to be managed. In fact they can’t be managed.
Jobs on trying to recruit ‘managers’: “we’ve stopped bringing in managers because although they can manage, they don’t know how to do anything!” Instead apple focused on choosing people from within the business to step up and lead the pack. People such as Debbie Coleman, who was an accountant, was handed to role of managing the apple team.
Furthermore, they Jobs knew that experience was not usually the right answer. Although it may seem the wise thing to do, experience doesn’t equal raw passion, unique thinking and a youthful mind.
“We don’t hire people to tell them what to do, we hire them to tell us what to do.”
And finally, a quote, again on the importance of patience (even though Jobs was known to be the most impatient): “You can throw all the money you want at time, it won’t work”.
So, in summary, this book was a good read, and I think if you read it, you’ll definitely put it down with fresher perspective of technology and the potential and possibilities of a small idea. You’ll probably feel like you knew Steve Jobs and that Wozniak was your best friend at school. Although at times I was lost in some of the quite frankly, unnecessary details, Michael Moritz has done an exquisite job.
Although I am a biased Manchester United Fan, Michael Moritz is the also the author of one of my other favourite books: Leading, by Sir Alex Ferguson. This is a book that gets into the mind of one of the most iconic men in the history of sport. How did he lead and manage? The answers lie within…
[amazon text=Grab Return of The Little Kingdom here&asin=0715638882]
[amazon text=For Leading by Sir Alex Ferguson, click here.&asin=1472208703]