The best idea from Steve Jobs

Jony Ive is the legendary designer of many of the most famous Apple products – iPod, iMac, iPad, iPhone. In an interview with Graydon Carter (clip here), the editor of Vanity Fair, Carter asked Ive about the most important life lessons he took away from working with Steve Jobs.

Ive replied that the most important one was the meaning of focus.

Jobs once asked him, “How many things have you said no to?”

Ive thought about it and offered a handful of things. Jobs dismissed them all. He knew that Ive wasn’t genuinely interested in doing any of them. None was a sacrifice.

And that was his point – the essence of true focus is sacrifice.

Ive explained: “Focus means saying no to something that you with every bone in your body think is phenomenal … and you wake up thinking about it … but you say no to it anyway … because you are focused on something else.”

Much of the past year I have been deep in the cave, focused on a new idea, a new project (more on that in future letters). Many groups and companies reached out to me with tempting offers that I briefly considered. Each time, though, I came back to that one line. I said no and continue to say no to many things that I might have otherwise enjoyed (writing more Loonshots letters is among them). All in that spirit, of sacrificing. For focus.

And it feels great.

My only exceptions have been the Loonshots workshops that I’ve done with a handful of teams and companies, which will turn into another book, also (hopefully) fairly soon.

So this season I wish you all not only a happy, healthy holidays and break, but that at some point over the next few days or weeks you grant yourself the power of focus.

And discover the amazing things that focus can help you create.

Yours in the pursuit of crazy ideas,
Safi Bahcall


Loonshots workshops:  Successful companies that have matured from startup to dominating a core business often struggle to expand beyond that core. The core suffocates or rejects the new, and zombie projects, premature scaling, and innovation theater proliferate. In this full day workshop, Safi describes ten principles for a scalable, sustainable innovation system, using surprising and entertaining examples from Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, Google, Harley-Davidson, Lego, and the US military. (More here.)

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