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Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success

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To Steve Jobs, Simplicity was a religion. It was also a weapon. Simplicity isn’t just a design principle at Apple—it’s a value that permeates every level of the organization. The obsession with Simplicity is what separates Apple from other technology companies. It’s what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011. Thanks To Steve Jobs, Simplicity was a religion. It was also a weapon. Simplicity isn’t just a design principle at Apple—it’s a value that permeates every level of the organization. The obsession with Simplicity is what separates Apple from other technology companies. It’s what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011. Thanks to Steve Jobs’s uncompromising ways, you can see Simplicity in everything Apple does: the way it’s structured, the way it innovates, and the way it speaks to its customers. It’s by crushing the forces of Complexity that the company remains on its stellar trajectory. As ad agency creative director, Ken Segall played a key role in Apple’s resurrection, helping to create such critical marketing campaigns as Think different. By naming the iMac, he also laid the foundation for naming waves of i-products to come. Segall has a unique perspective, given his years of experience creating campaigns for other iconic tech companies, including IBM, Intel, and Dell. It was the stark contrast of Apple’s ways that made Segall appreciate the power of Simplicity—and inspired him to help others benefit from it. In Insanely Simple, you’ll be a fly on the wall inside a conference room with Steve Jobs, and on the receiving end of his midnight phone calls. You’ll understand how his obsession with Simplicity helped Apple perform better and faster, sometimes saving millions in the process. You’ll also learn, for example, how to: • Think Minimal: Distilling choices to a minimum brings clarity to a company and its customers—as Jobs proved when he replaced over twenty product models with a lineup of four. • Think Small: Swearing allegiance to the concept of “small groups of smart people” raises both morale and productivity. • Think Motion: Keeping project teams in constant motion focuses creative thinking on well-defined goals and minimizes distractions. • Think Iconic: Using a simple, powerful image to symbolize the benefit of a product or idea creates a deeper impression in the minds of customers. • Think War: Giving yourself an unfair advantage—using every weapon at your disposal—is the best way to ensure that your ideas survive unscathed. Segall brings Apple’s quest for Simplicity to life using fascinating (and previously untold) stories from behind the scenes. Through his insight and wit, you’ll discover how companies that leverage this power can stand out from competitors—and individuals who master it can become critical assets to their organizations.


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To Steve Jobs, Simplicity was a religion. It was also a weapon. Simplicity isn’t just a design principle at Apple—it’s a value that permeates every level of the organization. The obsession with Simplicity is what separates Apple from other technology companies. It’s what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011. Thanks To Steve Jobs, Simplicity was a religion. It was also a weapon. Simplicity isn’t just a design principle at Apple—it’s a value that permeates every level of the organization. The obsession with Simplicity is what separates Apple from other technology companies. It’s what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011. Thanks to Steve Jobs’s uncompromising ways, you can see Simplicity in everything Apple does: the way it’s structured, the way it innovates, and the way it speaks to its customers. It’s by crushing the forces of Complexity that the company remains on its stellar trajectory. As ad agency creative director, Ken Segall played a key role in Apple’s resurrection, helping to create such critical marketing campaigns as Think different. By naming the iMac, he also laid the foundation for naming waves of i-products to come. Segall has a unique perspective, given his years of experience creating campaigns for other iconic tech companies, including IBM, Intel, and Dell. It was the stark contrast of Apple’s ways that made Segall appreciate the power of Simplicity—and inspired him to help others benefit from it. In Insanely Simple, you’ll be a fly on the wall inside a conference room with Steve Jobs, and on the receiving end of his midnight phone calls. You’ll understand how his obsession with Simplicity helped Apple perform better and faster, sometimes saving millions in the process. You’ll also learn, for example, how to: • Think Minimal: Distilling choices to a minimum brings clarity to a company and its customers—as Jobs proved when he replaced over twenty product models with a lineup of four. • Think Small: Swearing allegiance to the concept of “small groups of smart people” raises both morale and productivity. • Think Motion: Keeping project teams in constant motion focuses creative thinking on well-defined goals and minimizes distractions. • Think Iconic: Using a simple, powerful image to symbolize the benefit of a product or idea creates a deeper impression in the minds of customers. • Think War: Giving yourself an unfair advantage—using every weapon at your disposal—is the best way to ensure that your ideas survive unscathed. Segall brings Apple’s quest for Simplicity to life using fascinating (and previously untold) stories from behind the scenes. Through his insight and wit, you’ll discover how companies that leverage this power can stand out from competitors—and individuals who master it can become critical assets to their organizations.

30 review for Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jmswtsn

    Could have used some editing. For a book espousing the advantages of "Simplicity", it could have used some chopping. He basically makes the same point about 15 times before launching into some interesting stories. 100 pages of good stuff, 100 pages of fluff. Could have used some editing. For a book espousing the advantages of "Simplicity", it could have used some chopping. He basically makes the same point about 15 times before launching into some interesting stories. 100 pages of good stuff, 100 pages of fluff.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Peter Labrow

    Of all of the books jumping on the Steve Jobs bandwagon, this is perhaps the one that’s most of value. This is perhaps the one management book which has really resonated with me since Don Peppers and Martha Rogers’ The One-To-One Future. Let’s face it, that’s not great: that was published in 1996. I’m old enough to have worked for organisations both large and small – as an employee and as an outside supplier. It can be frustrating to be working for an organisation that has a core of brilliance but Of all of the books jumping on the Steve Jobs bandwagon, this is perhaps the one that’s most of value. This is perhaps the one management book which has really resonated with me since Don Peppers and Martha Rogers’ The One-To-One Future. Let’s face it, that’s not great: that was published in 1996. I’m old enough to have worked for organisations both large and small – as an employee and as an outside supplier. It can be frustrating to be working for an organisation that has a core of brilliance but somehow can’t get things done – this book explains the one simple reason why this is often the case: they can’t do things in a simple way. The book’s author, Ken Segall, worked as a marketing provider to Apple – and, at the same time, Intel, Dell and other large IT companies. It’s essentially the story of what makes Apple such a force to be reckoned with – but isn’t merely a sanctification of Steve Jobs. Yes, Steve is mentioned aplenty and is usually the centre of the many examples given. But while it touches on many of the facets of Steve’s character which made him so successful, it focuses on one thing which almost anyone can do to improve their business – yet, will find an incredibly difficult and elusive concept to implement: simplicity. Steve was often regarded as ruthless. Although there’s some truth in that, it’s probably better to say that he was single-minded. He wanted to get things done – and he often wanted to get them done fast. He didn’t like to hear the word ‘no’. Well, we’ve all worked with managers who think that’s the right way to move a company forward, that without their aggression, people simply wouldn’t do their best. Steve’s single-mindedness wasn’t like that. He often knew that there was a better way and he provided a means to get there. He demanded simplicity. Steve himself said that simplicity is hard to achieve. Segall’s book tells the journey of a marketing man working with Steve Jobs as he struggled to rebuild his massively broken former empire. In big-company terms, some of the stories are amazing – such as when Steve returned to Apple and decided that it needed a branding campaign. After all, the company’s brand was in the gutter. Yet Apple had never run a campaign that was only about brand, ever. What was aired was one of the greatest campaigns of all time – the Apple ‘here’s to the crazy ones’ commercial, which was the spearhead for the company’s ‘think different’ brand campaign. “Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Anyone who’s ever tried to get a brand campaign running will tell you how hard it can be. First, the company has to understand its own values. Then, it has to work out the smartest way to communicate them. Steve wanted, needed, his campaign to be done fast. It took around a month – a simply astonishing amount of time. The book contrasts this with Dell, who, after six months, still hadn’t worked out what it stood for; it hadn’t even got off the starting blocks. The book also contrasts Apple with Intel, which stifles creativity and strong ideas with the overuse of focus groups, which dilute ideas until they are not only inoffensive, they are ineffective. Or, the excessive use of testing analytics to remove any element of risk – and most elements of impact. Apple never uses focus groups. Ever. It’s smart enough to know a good idea when it sees one and has the confidence to run with it. When it makes a mistake (such as the round ‘puck’ mouse), it admits that mistake – and moves on quickly. This sounds arrogant, but the point is that not only does Apple trust itself, it knows how to keep things simple. It runs major meetings as conversations, not as presentations. Decision-making teams often number just two or three people; if you’re not absolutely needed at a meeting, you won’t be invited. If you turn up anyway, you’ll be ejected. Apple – not just Jobs – is ruthless about simplicity. Other companies believe that large project teams mean more brains on the job. Apple knows that this means more points of view, more conversations, more meetings, more cost, more delays – and a watered-down concept. Other companies believe in inclusivity. That getting the ‘wider view’ will win hearts and minds. Apple believes in secrecy – that they have the knowledge, the smarts, the energy needed to make something really great that will win hearts and minds all on its own. Apple knows that the wider your outside involvement, the more people you have to please – and the less focused the idea. Apple’s obsession reaches into every aspect of what it does, including having teams working in secret to create packaging that delights people before the product is even pulled from the box. Other companies simply buy the cheapest brown pulp boxes they can. Apple is now one of the most profitable companies in the world. It makes more money than most other computer companies combined, despite not having the largest market share. Its products reshape markets. That isn’t magic – it’s damned hard work and a passion about one thing: simplicity. This is one book every business leader should read. Many will read it with envy, unable to envisage how they can possibly change the culture of their organisation into one that’s both as empowered and as empowering – and therefore so effective. Here’s to the crazy people.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    Like most people who work at the intersection of programming and user experience, I am a big fan of simple. Because of this I thought this book would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, I was so wrong that I had to put this book down after getting only half way through it. My main problem with the book is that this book never really defines, or even seems to have a good understanding of, what the term Simple means. In the end this is not a book about simplicity, it is a book about how much the Like most people who work at the intersection of programming and user experience, I am a big fan of simple. Because of this I thought this book would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, I was so wrong that I had to put this book down after getting only half way through it. My main problem with the book is that this book never really defines, or even seems to have a good understanding of, what the term Simple means. In the end this is not a book about simplicity, it is a book about how much the author loved his experience of working at Apple. There is nothing wrong with this of course, and there is much to admire in Apple's work, but if you think this book will help you understand how to create insanely simple products like those from Apple you will be disappointed because to the author, "simple" appears to mean "whatever Apple does". As an example, the author's first main push about simplicity is 'always have small meetings'. This may be a great rule, but I don't really think it is about simplicity or complexity in any meaningful way. Another example: the author likes to throw out true-isms in the form of 'simple is ____' and an early one is 'simple does not tolerate taming a bucking bronco'. Is this really supposed to inform me about the nature of simplicity? In the end this book was not worth my time to finish, and I did not get much out of what I did read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Interesting and easy-to-read take on Steve Jobs and Apple from a marketer's perspective. However, I found it really distasteful how he criticized and shared negative insider details about his former clients, particularly Dell. I felt he broke the consultant's unspoken code of conduct. He also shared an anecdote where he let a colleague fail miserably in front of Steve Jobs and, in Segall's own words "So I started doing what any brave advertising guy would do: I made sure I sat outside the line o Interesting and easy-to-read take on Steve Jobs and Apple from a marketer's perspective. However, I found it really distasteful how he criticized and shared negative insider details about his former clients, particularly Dell. I felt he broke the consultant's unspoken code of conduct. He also shared an anecdote where he let a colleague fail miserably in front of Steve Jobs and, in Segall's own words "So I started doing what any brave advertising guy would do: I made sure I sat outside the line of fire." If you can get past those negatives, the book contains some great stories about Steve Jobs (Segall worked with him on and off for 12 years) and summarizes Segall's distillation of what made Jobs and Apple so successful. Key highlights: * Any company is going to experience both success and failure, especially if you're focused on innovating. Steve Jobs believed in the concept of the "brand bank." Your brand is like a bank account. When you do great things - a fabulous new product/service - you get deposits in the brand bank. When you fail, you see a withdrawal. As long as you have a healthy balance in the brand bank, customers are more willing to ride out the tough times. But if you've let the balance run too low, customers are more likely to be really angry or worse, tempted to head for the hills. * If you're going to try and adopt the value of Simplicity, you have to do it across all of your actions, from how you communicate (minimize your proposition and talk the way humans do, not in marketing speak), to how you operate (small teams are better and you have to have the key decision maker involved throughout the process, not at the end), to what you offer (don't make things more complicated than they need to be by offering too many options - something which is a huge problem when you are trying to buy a PC). * I loved the story of how the Think Different campaign came into being. It's such an iconic campaign that has stood the test of time and there's a reason for that. It embraces and communicates the core values of Apple. Segall shares the speech that Jobs gave to employees when he unveiled the campaign. It's thought by many to be the perfect presentation about the power of brands. Overall, the book does a great job of inspiring you to look and see how you can champion Simplicity in your own career.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Phil Simon

    Yes, this book is that good. It's quite possibly the most important marketing book since Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. Segall shows us how Apple's maniacal emphasis on simplicity distinguishes it from Microsoft, Dell, HP, Intel, and other tech stalwarts. In an age in which consumers are king, inundating them with features and specs is exactly the wrong approach. Rather, as Segall shows, Apple (through Steve Jobs and continuing under Tim Cook) does the oppo Yes, this book is that good. It's quite possibly the most important marketing book since Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. Segall shows us how Apple's maniacal emphasis on simplicity distinguishes it from Microsoft, Dell, HP, Intel, and other tech stalwarts. In an age in which consumers are king, inundating them with features and specs is exactly the wrong approach. Rather, as Segall shows, Apple (through Steve Jobs and continuing under Tim Cook) does the opposite. By eschewing focus groups and keeping it simple, Apple has prospered beyond all realistic expectations. By following the advice in the book, companies of all sizes can increase the odds of success. Finally, Segall's style is extremely conversational and often humorous. Had it been written a year ago, I would have quoted it extensively in The Age of the Platform. Get. This. Book. Now.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shog Al Maskery

    Honestly, I feel like it's a book that you can benefit a lot from knowing how apple works, but at the same time it was getting a bit boring for me how Apple is the perfect model and how the author was bashing on other brands. Honestly, I feel like it's a book that you can benefit a lot from knowing how apple works, but at the same time it was getting a bit boring for me how Apple is the perfect model and how the author was bashing on other brands.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Beth Dean

    Segall talks about his time working on the creative team that served Apple under Steve Jobs. Segall learned and practiced the art of brutal simplicity in marketing and product rollouts. This is a pursuit I believe in, too. Minus the brutal part. We’re all adults here, after all. No need to be brutal. I’m interpreting this book as part brilliant and part case of Stockholm Syndrome. Brilliant because the simple approach is best for the consumer. Stockholm Syndromish because some of the behavior he d Segall talks about his time working on the creative team that served Apple under Steve Jobs. Segall learned and practiced the art of brutal simplicity in marketing and product rollouts. This is a pursuit I believe in, too. Minus the brutal part. We’re all adults here, after all. No need to be brutal. I’m interpreting this book as part brilliant and part case of Stockholm Syndrome. Brilliant because the simple approach is best for the consumer. Stockholm Syndromish because some of the behavior he describes from Jobs at their group meetings is misanthropic and unacceptable, though presented in the guise of, “He was a visionary genius! So it’s all okay!!” Great philosophy, simplicity. Just don’t forget to be humane while practicing it. Read Remark Reviews | YouTube | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

  8. 5 out of 5

    Neven

    This is a quirky and charmingly plain collection of anecdotes about Segall's interactions with Steve Jobs, and, more importantly, his takeaway lessons from Apple's success. It is, by design, a cherry-picked history, but in that it actually succeeds where Walter Isaacson's authorized biography failed. Isaacson spent so much time making sure his Steve was well rounded and fairly covered, he forgot to find (for lack of searching, it seems) any cause for the man's mindblowing career. Segall gets to This is a quirky and charmingly plain collection of anecdotes about Segall's interactions with Steve Jobs, and, more importantly, his takeaway lessons from Apple's success. It is, by design, a cherry-picked history, but in that it actually succeeds where Walter Isaacson's authorized biography failed. Isaacson spent so much time making sure his Steve was well rounded and fairly covered, he forgot to find (for lack of searching, it seems) any cause for the man's mindblowing career. Segall gets to the point: Steve kept things simple. We can now argue about other factors that contributed to the unprecedented rise of Apple, but for the time being Segall's thesis makes a lot of sense.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nipun

    If you can look past the unprofessional way Segall rails on other companies, his bizarre pseudo-religious way of talking about simplicity and his overly enthusiastic love for Apple (even in a book about how great Apple is, Segall comes across as too much of a fanboy), there are some good nuggets here. It's primarily a book about marketing but there are some interesting stories about Steve Jobs and how Apple's best marketing campaigns came about. If you can look past the unprofessional way Segall rails on other companies, his bizarre pseudo-religious way of talking about simplicity and his overly enthusiastic love for Apple (even in a book about how great Apple is, Segall comes across as too much of a fanboy), there are some good nuggets here. It's primarily a book about marketing but there are some interesting stories about Steve Jobs and how Apple's best marketing campaigns came about.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Chklovski

    Disappointing book that promotes power of brutally direct communication and simplicity, and then proceeds to go into anecdotes of tiptoeing around Steve's snap judgements, and packaging things so he might like them. Does have a good, clear call for a company knowing what its mission is, and the kind of strength a company can derive from building products that meet its high bar and reinforce its key philosophy. Disappointing book that promotes power of brutally direct communication and simplicity, and then proceeds to go into anecdotes of tiptoeing around Steve's snap judgements, and packaging things so he might like them. Does have a good, clear call for a company knowing what its mission is, and the kind of strength a company can derive from building products that meet its high bar and reinforce its key philosophy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stef

    Not a good book. To me Ken Segall seems to just take advantage of the fact that he worked with Jobs and saw him hitting every body with the "simple stick". Did he learn anything from working with Jobs? not clear. Did he apply the learning? No. Have I learned something? No. Not a good book. To me Ken Segall seems to just take advantage of the fact that he worked with Jobs and saw him hitting every body with the "simple stick". Did he learn anything from working with Jobs? not clear. Did he apply the learning? No. Have I learned something? No.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    This book took me a little bit to get into, as I couldn't get past the character and sheer harshness of Steve Jobs himself. I couldn't help but think if he and Apple hadn't been so successful, he'd have been a run of the mill jerk. However, there was a turning point for me in Chapter 2, when the author, Ken Segall, acknowledged that, "... you can do the the brutal thing without being brutal." Meaning that simplicity takes being brutal in your quest to remove complexity, but you can do it without This book took me a little bit to get into, as I couldn't get past the character and sheer harshness of Steve Jobs himself. I couldn't help but think if he and Apple hadn't been so successful, he'd have been a run of the mill jerk. However, there was a turning point for me in Chapter 2, when the author, Ken Segall, acknowledged that, "... you can do the the brutal thing without being brutal." Meaning that simplicity takes being brutal in your quest to remove complexity, but you can do it without being a maniac. From that point on, it was easy to let go of my need to just wish Steve would have been kinder and gentler and to focus on the brilliance and difficulty of simplicity. Great stories across the tech industry, relatable examples, and things that will make you stop and question what you thought you always new about operating in business. If your interest is in product or marketing, these stories will be especially inspiring.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anoop Dixith

    "Insanely Delightful" would be a good title for the review of this book, which, although far from perfect, tells the story of the Steve Jobs era Apple primarily from an advertising perspective. The story of Steve Jobs is like a universe of its own, with ample scope for a series of gripping, pocketed stories that could be captivating on their own merit but share the underlying theme - the hippie days, the two Steves, the pirates, Sculley and Amelio, NeXT, iProducts, Apple Store, Pixar, Pancreas, "Insanely Delightful" would be a good title for the review of this book, which, although far from perfect, tells the story of the Steve Jobs era Apple primarily from an advertising perspective. The story of Steve Jobs is like a universe of its own, with ample scope for a series of gripping, pocketed stories that could be captivating on their own merit but share the underlying theme - the hippie days, the two Steves, the pirates, Sculley and Amelio, NeXT, iProducts, Apple Store, Pixar, Pancreas, Lisa etc, and this book is about one such story focussed on innovation at Apple seen through the prism of advertising, marketing, and creative art. I chose the word 'prism' and not 'lens' because there are instances in the book where events are glorified, deliberately or not, and where certain failures have been ignored until the conclusion section.  Before exploring the details of the book further, I want to point out a few things about the author, so the context will be set up better for the rest of the journey. Ken Segall is an advertising veteran, having been mostly with Chiat/Day (one of the most famous advertising agencies that has created landmark ads like Taco Bell chihuahua, Adidas's Hello Tomorrow, Southwest's Welcome Aboard etc along with three of the best campaigns ever for Apple - 1984, Mac vs PC, and the iconic "Think Different) for much of his career and closely linked with their Apple account. He was the protege of Steve Hayden, the creator of 1984. In that position, his interactions with Steve Jobs were first hand, and so is his account in this book. But clearly, and even admittedly, Ken was enamored by Steve's Reality Distortion Field, and on most pages in the book, he comes across as a fanboy rather than a collaborator! That's not a complaint per se, but something that becomes apparent clearly and dearly in the book.  The book has been divided into ten chapters, each very smartly named on the lines of "Think something" - Think Small, Think Simple, Think Iconic etc. And I certainly admit that all of them apply unarguably to Apple and the values lived by it under Steve Jobs. Every chapter is about the author's interactions with Steve Jobs (I say Steve Jobs because it was Steve Jobs himself who used to handle the final advertising, marketing, and product naming campaigns - not some executives, not a board, not anybody else) on an advertising or a marketing project. The stories are not chronological but are rather categorized on different aspects of simplicity. Before we narrow down on each chapter, as a trivia fan, I'd like to put down some interesting "Did you know?"s from the book that might pique a potential reader's interest to explore more. Did you know that... 1. Before they called it iMac, which further led to the naming of many iconic iProducts, the name they had chosen was "Mac Man"? I'm glad Steve listened to Chiat in this case, 2. Cisco originally had the trademark for the name iPhone and was in fact a product in use? Apple was in talks about it but Steve went ahead with his magnum opus presentation at the 2007 iPhone launch and announced it anyway without permission, 3. The iconic quote that goes "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels..." was not Steve's but that of Chiat, but Steve did contribute one line as a writer - "They push the human race forward"? 4. When the "Think Different" campaign was in full swing with many extremely famous personalities, game changers were being part of it, Steve really wanted Nelson Mandela to be part of it? When Chiat failed to get Mandela, Steve spoke to Bill Clinton (Steve was very close to Clintons) to talk to Mandela on Apple's behalf! Mandela rejected nevertheless, and Apple went with Charlie Chaplin.  5. Once, Steve wanted to introduce two versions of Mac, a paid update and a free update, and the free update would contain ads on boot-up, software launch, searches etc?! Thankfully for Apple, Steve went against it for the advertising nightmare it would create. And thankfully for the world, that model never got traction by anyone else, even on mobile. The first chapter is called "Think Brutal", and in this, the author narrates the stories associated with Steve's legendary "Simple Stick" - an imaginary magic wand that makes a complex system simple. Simple Stick killing the idea of two  different packaging of a single product is the simplest example of this. The chapter also includes stories about how meetings were conducted in Jobs era Apple, by eliminating the least required person! By "brutal", the author means brutally honest, which Steve indeed was, and "that" in reality is a very simple thing to practice. In "Think Small", the author narrates how Steve's idea of thinking small set Apple apart from its competitors like Intel and Dell. "Small" includes a wide variety of smalls, including having a small number of choices. The author rightly points out how Apple makes it so simple to browse their products by categorizing them appropriately, while its competitors drown in the paradox of choice. The chapter logically transforms well into its next - Think Minimal, which follows the same line but for processes. "Think Motion", the next chapter is more about Microsoft than Apple, where Microsoft searches for its core values and from the marketing perspective, end up choosing kids, puppies, and small businesses as their target!  My favorite chapter in the book is "Think Iconic" which rightly points out how simplicity is "embedded" in anything iconic! From the ad of 1984, to Think Different campaign, to iMac to iPhone, Apple's iconic products/campaigns have displayed extreme simplicity in their appeal. It doesn't mean the effort that went into making them iconic was simple, on contrary it's brutally demanding, but when the product is out, its simplicity speaks for itself. The story of iPhone's one "Home Button" is particularly enjoyable in this regard. Arguably unrelated, but the story of how Apple didn't get into the trouble of solving the Y2K problem is part of this chapter, and I was truly amazed to know that roughly $600 billion was spent on it by the industry outside of Apple according to Gartner.  "Think Human" is a beautifully narrated piece which highlights how Apple always sees its end users as humans and talks to them about values and ease of use, rather than with numbers and data as done by a majority of their competitors. I was a bit skeptical at first, but the author completely quenched it by highlighting what Apple told about their iPod - "A thousand songs in your pocket". I don't think any data, any number would have conveyed the message clearer. It doesn't matter how long those songs are, what quality and thus what size each is etc, the end-user is perfectly happy to know that the device can fit around a thousand standard songs, and that the device itself can fit in his pocket. This chapter also contains the most iconic Apple quote ever - "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels...", but I'll save it to the end. There's an entire chapter dedicated to the lawyers of Apple and the ad agency, titled aptly "Think Skeptic", and one dedicated to the advertising wars Apple waged on Microsoft and Intel at various times - "Think War".  Both of these are brimming with captivating tales on how Apple went against its competition. All through the book, I kept wondering why the author conveniently skipped the failures of Apple and of Steve that didn't fit the line of this narration. That bit was disappointing, but there's a modicum of solace in "Conclusion" (sigh, at least) where many of Apple's notable failures (and of NeXT) have been documented. Too late, too little, but at least it's there. Overall, this was an enthralling read. The more I read about Steve, the more I realize he had so many facets that are not captured in his mainstream stories. So, this book from an advertising angle was very informative and certainly enjoyable. I'll conclude this by quoting the most famous line Chiat has ever created, something that gives me goosebumps every time I read it: "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. You can quote them, glorify them, vilify them. But you can't ignore them. Because, they change things. Because, the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Roy Deseo

    “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.” —Steve Jobs” The book speaks of only one thing, 'Simplicity'. But mind you, that simplicity has produced and is currently being observed by a multi-billion dollar company, nuff said! This book is just a snappy glimpse in Steve's professionalism. Recommended for young individuals who aspire in jumping-up their level of “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.” —Steve Jobs” The book speaks of only one thing, 'Simplicity'. But mind you, that simplicity has produced and is currently being observed by a multi-billion dollar company, nuff said! This book is just a snappy glimpse in Steve's professionalism. Recommended for young individuals who aspire in jumping-up their level of productivity while still maintaining the wittiness in their life. Witty in the sense that you're striving for simplification rather than complexity, thus achieving quality results in just a short amount of time. Isn't that cool?!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Prayag Panchwadkar

    Read only if you are an Apple fanboy or have read no other book on Apple. Most of the stories in the book are widely known. The writing style has little structure or flow. Most of the book follows a "Steve did this, steve did that" kind of approach. Good only for a few good Apple stories which hadn't been shared previously which you will find if you search for reviews of the book online. Read only if you are an Apple fanboy or have read no other book on Apple. Most of the stories in the book are widely known. The writing style has little structure or flow. Most of the book follows a "Steve did this, steve did that" kind of approach. Good only for a few good Apple stories which hadn't been shared previously which you will find if you search for reviews of the book online.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Some great stories in here. Unfortunately, it often feels like Ken is on the outside looking in. Plus the book is poorly organized with stories repeated. It would have been better organized chronologically.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Glamdring

    I DNF this audiobook at +/- 75% As a more than 20 years Apple products user I was curious to read/listen this book. Some parts of it were interesting, unfortunately there was too much uninteresting rambling and the narration was kind of monotonous.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tanuja

    Almost seems like an eulogy to Steve Jobs! Other than some juicy insights into Apple's marketing and work ethic, the rest is 'simply' repetitive. Almost seems like an eulogy to Steve Jobs! Other than some juicy insights into Apple's marketing and work ethic, the rest is 'simply' repetitive.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amie

    If Ken Segall was really a disciple of Simplicity, this book would be 1/8 its published length. Spoiler alert: Steve Jobs saved Apple when he triumphantly returned to the helm in 1997.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christa Pusateri

    Interesting stories behind the iconic Apple advertising campaigns combined with some great advice on how to stay focused on the simple, even when it's not easy. Interesting stories behind the iconic Apple advertising campaigns combined with some great advice on how to stay focused on the simple, even when it's not easy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tom Krug

    Recommended by Margo S

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christina Furtado

    Fairly obvious examples but good points none-the-less and a quick, easy read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pascal Wagner

    This is very much a leadership book on how Steve Jobs thinks, his management style and his ambition ---Notes--- When you work with Apple, you know exactly where you stand, what the goals are, and how quickly you need to perform. You're also aware of the consequences should you screw up. Clarity propels an organization. Not occasional clarity but pervasive, 24 hour, in-your-face take-no-prisoners clarity. Most people never perceive that this is lacking in their organization, but 90% of the time it This is very much a leadership book on how Steve Jobs thinks, his management style and his ambition ---Notes--- When you work with Apple, you know exactly where you stand, what the goals are, and how quickly you need to perform. You're also aware of the consequences should you screw up. Clarity propels an organization. Not occasional clarity but pervasive, 24 hour, in-your-face take-no-prisoners clarity. Most people never perceive that this is lacking in their organization, but 90% of the time it is (14). The idea is pretty basic: everyone in the room should be there for a reason. There's no such thing as a "mercy invitation." Either you're critical to the meeting or you're not. It's nothing personal, just business (26). The more people involved in the effort, the more complicated briefings become, the more hand-holding is required to get people up to speed, and the more time must be spent reviewing participants' work and offering useful feedback (30). With all the talk about how rough Steve could be, it should be acknowledged that oftentimes he was only doing what many of us wish we could do. The good news is, being brutal and being respected are not mutually exclusive. In fact, showing a little of that brutal honesty at the right time is a pretty good way to earn respect (31). Customers hardly leave the Apple site feeling deprived of choices. Instead, they feel like Apple's product line was presented in a way that made their purchase simple. The experience of shopping for a Mac reinforces the image of Apple as the company that makes advanced computers easy to buy and easy to own. Rather than seeing less choice, Apple customers see less confusion. They become attached to a company that gives them a simple shopping experience. When choice becomes overwhelming, it ceases to be a benefit and starts to become a liability. At a certain point, an overabundance of choice only torpedoes a person's ability to make a confident decision. For many, it even causes postpurchase angst, as they wonder whether they really bought the right thing (53). People will always respond better to a single idea expressed clearly. They tune out when Complexity begins to speak instead (66). Minimizing the choices provides customers with a simpler oath a better value and a happier frame of mind. It takes effort to cut out the layers of complexity, sometimes tremendous effort - but as Apple knows, the payoff is a more honest and trusting relationship with customers. Conversely, charging excessive prices and offering confusing choices makes customers feel like they're being squeezed for every extra dollar. Not a good recipe for long-term customer relationships (67). Never stop moving. The project begins on day one and should consume people from the get-go. No time-outs allowed. Only when people are kept in constant motion do they stay focused with the right kind of intensity. Work isn't supposed to be easy: it's supposed to be gratifying - and keeping the team in motion is what gets you there (73). As long as you've got new ideas to share, you are free to re-present the old one (110). He had an opinion. A very strong opinion. The kind of opinion that might knock you over and kick you a few times. But that's not to say he wasn't reasonable or wouldn't ultimately change his mind if confronted with heartfelt opinions presented with passion (111). Human beings are naturally programmed to identify products by single words. Ask anything more of them and you're bound to be disappointed. People will say, I"ll look it up on my iPhone" but never "I'll look it up on my Apple iPhone." Modifiers exist to distinguish between models (3GS, 4, 4S, etc), but such references are used only when conversationally necessary. Again, people will say, I'll look it up on my iPhone" but rarely "I'll look it up on my iPhone 3GS." And that's exactly the way it should be, as "iPhone" is the brand and the modifier is for your information only (114). By contrast, the names of most phones sold by Apple's competitors are difficult to remember because there are so many dozens of them plus the names themselves relate to neither the brand names nor the phones' functions (115). Look around at all the other commercials you see on TV, or even the ads you see in magazines and newspapers. Look at the billboards too. You're bound to see some fairly complicated URLs designed not only to take you to a specific page but also to enable the company to track who's coming from where. Steve didn't believe in making people work harder just so he could collect data about their movements. his most important concern was making things easier for customers. Apple was there to serve them, not the other way around (123). Steve had the sensitivities of an artist and was fanatic about details, just as the legend says. He wasn't debating the use of a single latter because he was controlling, he did this because he thought it was important. For Steve, there was no such thing as an unimportant detail (124). Apple is unrelenting about sending the message of Simplicity to its customers. It does that with every product it creates - and every word it chooses (125). Many people incorrectly assume that by increasing the word count they will demonstrate their smarts when the opposite is almost always closer to reality. Those who know how to communicate with brevity are the ones who come across as smarter and are more appreciated by executives who value their time (134). A less formal presentation with honest debate is the way to strengthen your relationships-and get better results (134). Process makes you more efficient. But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we've been thinking about a problem. It's ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea (140). Though his outbursts were legendary, Steve could also be incredibly supportive. In fact, some of his praise seemed to be piped in directly from his reality distortion field: "This is the greatest launch in the history of computers." Maybe you knew that it wasn't really true, but the fact that he was distorting reality just for you created a warm and fuzzy feeling (141). Only years later, now that we can look back and more fully appreciate Steve's role in revolutionizing computers, music, movies, and phones, does it become clear that the script for this Ad wasn't just describing Apple, it was describing Steve himself: "Here's the to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world... are the ones who do (142). On analytics and data: Steve Jobs was one of the most forward-thinking people on this planet, yet he was refreshingly old-fashioned when it came to the use of analytics. He demanded all the information he could get, and he would digest every bit of it-but he took it all in context. He never lost sight of the fact that at the end of the day, technology is about people: what stirs their imaginations, what keeps them satisfied, and what makes them smile. He would never sacrifice that kind of connection in favor of a decision that somehow got Apple a few more clicks on its website. He would eagerly consume the data that would pour in, but in the end he made his decisions based on head and heart - like every good human should. It keeps things simple. He would never put his blind faith in statistics or judge the worth of an idea by the number he saw at the bottom of a spreadsheet. Ideas were everything to Steve and he knew that great ideas didn't usually show up in traditional ways. The idea of running his business through analytics alone sat no better with Steve than the idea of asking people on the street what kind of product they'd like Apple to build (163). On expected more from your team: Rarely would Steve tolerate a negative response when he wanted something done Unless you could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was an immovable object in the way, he expected you to do the job. If you couldn't, he'd find someone who could - and that wouldn't bode well for your future as part of the group (174). The Apple designer recognized that when the vendor said, "It can't be done," what he really meant was that it couldn't be done without extraordinary effort. It's amazing what people can accomplish when they see a juicy account about to walk out the door. Steve was convinced that when customers actually sat down with a Mac and had someone show them how easy it was to use, they were easy to convince. The problem was finding a way to have that conversation. There were very few stores where you could just walk in and get familiar with a Mac, and even fewer stores where the salespeople cared enough to demonstrate it properly. Apple had just started its online Apple Store, and that was a convenience but it wasn't a personal experience. It didn't allow Apple to have those one-on-one conversations (181). He believed that a company's brand works like a bank account. When the company does good things, such as launch a hit product or a great campaign, it makes deposits in the brand bank. When a company experiences setbacks, like an embarrassing mouse or an overpriced computer, it's making a withdrawal. When there's a healthy balance in the brand bank, customers are more willing to ride out the tough times. With a low balance, they might be more tempted to cut and run (200). Think Minimal. Be mindful of the fact that every time you attempt to communicate more than one thing, you're splintering the attention of those you're talking to - whether theyre customers or colleagues. If it's necessary to deliver multiple messages, find a common theme that unites them all and ush hard on that idea. You want people to remember what you saw - and the more you cram into your communication, the more difficult you make it for them. Remember, that a sea of choices is no choice at all. The more you can minimize your proposition, the more attractive it will be (202). Choreographed meetings and formalized presentations may transfer information from person to person, but they neither inspire nor bring a team closer together. Embrace the fact that you'll get more acocmplished when you converse with people rather than present to them (204).

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mykolas

    Insanely repetitive and monotonic. As a long time Apple user and follower I was curious to read read book. I am a big fan of simple and elegant ways of doing things. However, if you follow this company on the news and blog posts, you won’t find much of new ideas or behind the scenes stories here. Instead it is a nostalgic look back at an advertising creative director's career orbiting Apple, recounting yet more infamous Steve Jobs moments; which was more than well documented elsewhere. I don’t t Insanely repetitive and monotonic. As a long time Apple user and follower I was curious to read read book. I am a big fan of simple and elegant ways of doing things. However, if you follow this company on the news and blog posts, you won’t find much of new ideas or behind the scenes stories here. Instead it is a nostalgic look back at an advertising creative director's career orbiting Apple, recounting yet more infamous Steve Jobs moments; which was more than well documented elsewhere. I don’t think Ken himself adhered to the simplicity ideology himself. This book could easily be a simple blog post with main ideas outlined. Instead it felt like a long boring brag about his relationship with SJ and monotonous rambling narration. This book might be useful for big corporation managers, who, above everyone else, should follow and understand the idea of simple. If you want to read it, I would recommend taking a audible version and listening on your way to work. But again, I would not recommend this book. It is waste of time. Instead, google the idea of simplicity and how Apple applies it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Jobs: 1. Computers (iMac) 2. Music (iPod & iTunes) 3. Smartphones (iPhone) 4. Computers (iPad) Company: -only needed people included in meetings -larger the meeting, less gets done -send meeting info out beforehand, use meeting for discussing responses to info -Direct Decision Maker must be involved at every step in group process, not just reviewing and saying yes -High emphasis on ideas > processes -potentially own a word “Yes” -Get “fan boys” to post videos about new launch -Get enemies — gets traction Jobs: 1. Computers (iMac) 2. Music (iPod & iTunes) 3. Smartphones (iPhone) 4. Computers (iPad) Company: -only needed people included in meetings -larger the meeting, less gets done -send meeting info out beforehand, use meeting for discussing responses to info -Direct Decision Maker must be involved at every step in group process, not just reviewing and saying yes -High emphasis on ideas > processes -potentially own a word “Yes” -Get “fan boys” to post videos about new launch -Get enemies — gets traction -NO idea is too big -Communication should be around singular topic, too much info & people get confused -Keep things in motion at all times -Pressure is good, keeps things moving -Power of an image — be simple, be strong Shopping: -Simple -Keep the shopping process simple too! — reinforces the idea that Macs are easy to use -Stores -Easy to understand offerings — less confusion -Too much choice, customers wonder if they bought the right thing -

  26. 5 out of 5

    Darren

    As someone who is currently in the same profession as the author, I found the backstories and anecdotes around the agency-client relationship and Steve's methodological approach to simplicity fascinating and insightful. It certainly gives a behind-the-scenes take at the blood, sweat and tears that manifested into one of Apple's most iconic campaigns of all time. What I didn't enjoy however, was the writing itself. The prose, for the most part, is palatable. But every so often, I find myself in a As someone who is currently in the same profession as the author, I found the backstories and anecdotes around the agency-client relationship and Steve's methodological approach to simplicity fascinating and insightful. It certainly gives a behind-the-scenes take at the blood, sweat and tears that manifested into one of Apple's most iconic campaigns of all time. What I didn't enjoy however, was the writing itself. The prose, for the most part, is palatable. But every so often, I find myself in a state of deja vu, feeling as if I've read the same words or point few pages earlier. And it turns out after skimming through the reviews, it seems to be the common consensus. Ironically, the book that's supposed to be about simplicity is filled with fluff and redundancies, things that the author could have easily omitted or refined accordingly. Regardless of the transgressions, I still really enjoyed this book and managed to learn a thing or two.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    There are some interesting takeaways and stories about Jobs, and some of the ideas can be applied within a non-Apple, non-profit institution (like the one where I work). But so much of Jobs's success was the man himself, and his trademark tactics are unlikely to be successful when in use by someone else. Segall himself admits that "[p]eople accepted Steve Jobs behavior in Steve Jobs. They had a tough time accepting it in anyone else." Which is why this thin pile of talking points and anecdotes s There are some interesting takeaways and stories about Jobs, and some of the ideas can be applied within a non-Apple, non-profit institution (like the one where I work). But so much of Jobs's success was the man himself, and his trademark tactics are unlikely to be successful when in use by someone else. Segall himself admits that "[p]eople accepted Steve Jobs behavior in Steve Jobs. They had a tough time accepting it in anyone else." Which is why this thin pile of talking points and anecdotes should be accepted as just that and not as a real leadership book. The book also betrays Segall himself as a bit of an asshole who didn't look out enough for his young coworker during a meeting w/ Jobs, and who employed a "bless her heart" when referring to a professional woman. And it's not terribly well written.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Hutchison

    At the very beginning of the book I was quite intrigued but after the first three chapters, or so, I got bored and I stayed bored until the very end. Although it was had great story and idea it definitely got a little repetitive. I enjoyed the various stories about Steve Jobs and Apple but I found that they became the same stories every few chapters. I also really liked the idea of simplicity and everything there is about it. I fully agree with the comparisons of Apple to other companies, based At the very beginning of the book I was quite intrigued but after the first three chapters, or so, I got bored and I stayed bored until the very end. Although it was had great story and idea it definitely got a little repetitive. I enjoyed the various stories about Steve Jobs and Apple but I found that they became the same stories every few chapters. I also really liked the idea of simplicity and everything there is about it. I fully agree with the comparisons of Apple to other companies, based on simplicity, but it once again got very repetitive, I kept on hearing the same companies over and over again.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Johannes

    It took me a while to read this book. Party because of how different the content was from the fast paced fiction I normally read. But also because unlike its title the book really isn’t that simple. The overall content was good and I found the personal stories the author had with Steve and other facets of Apple very interesting to read. But even with that it also had a lot of fluff and repetitive themes that were very difficult to get through. Overall glad I read it, but should have been half th It took me a while to read this book. Party because of how different the content was from the fast paced fiction I normally read. But also because unlike its title the book really isn’t that simple. The overall content was good and I found the personal stories the author had with Steve and other facets of Apple very interesting to read. But even with that it also had a lot of fluff and repetitive themes that were very difficult to get through. Overall glad I read it, but should have been half the length.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liang Gang Yu

    Simplicity is the obvious beauty of all Apple's product. Simplicity is credited tremendously to Apple' success. But focusing on a principle of simplicity alone is not enough. It is Steve Jobs' obsession to Simplicity, which shaped Apple's enterprise culture from meetings to decision making besides product design, that leads to the transformational success of Steve Jobs' Apple. Isn't there the trace of healthy dose of obsession of "something" that leads to every break through of human kind? Simplicity is the obvious beauty of all Apple's product. Simplicity is credited tremendously to Apple' success. But focusing on a principle of simplicity alone is not enough. It is Steve Jobs' obsession to Simplicity, which shaped Apple's enterprise culture from meetings to decision making besides product design, that leads to the transformational success of Steve Jobs' Apple. Isn't there the trace of healthy dose of obsession of "something" that leads to every break through of human kind?

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