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Counter-leadership from Jobs and Cruyff

“The only people who change the world are those crazy enough to think they can”

Two of the greatests products of this century were founded by two singular charactors, just crazy enough. Loved hated, revered, controversial and shockingly similar, Steve Jobs and Johan Cruyff changed the world.

Apple computers and Barcelona (total football) soccer are the two of the greatest products of this and last century. The two influential figures that shaped them bear striking similarities:

  • Both were prodigies, coming early into their chosen passions.

  • Both started off as cocky loudmouths that turned people off.

  • Both were speaking the truth--which grudgingly kept their friends from totally abandoning them.

  • Both were pushed out of the organization they created and loved (Jobs Apple, Cruyff Ajax).

  • Both recovered to achieve their masterpiece.

What lessons do they teach us about building the next great thing? Their own quotes point to common themes:

1)Build a solid strategy on decision making

Johann Cruyff

"Before I make a mistake, I see it coming and then don’t make it.

Steve Jobs

"Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.

2) Strive for Simplicity

Johann Cruyff

"Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing."

Steve Jobs

""Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple."

3) Don’t be afraid to Lead the way

Johann Cruyff

"I am convinced that you have to do it like I do. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing it this way"

Steve Jobs

“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

4) Stand by your vision

Johann Cruyff

“Live and die by your own ideas”

Steve Jobs

“Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions... have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."

5) Take a circumspect worldview

Johann Cruyff

“Every advantage has its disadvantage"

Steve Jobs "There are downsides to everything; there are unintended consequences to everything."

6) Embrace the unknown

Johann Cruyff

“The hardest thing for players and humans is to understand that there is nothing to understand… "

Steve Jobs

“The system is that there is no system.”

7) Don't dumb down the message

Johann Cruyff

“If I wanted you to understand...I would have explained it better.”

Steve Jobs

“How does somebody know what they want if they haven’t even seen it?"

8) Start with yourself

Johann Cruyff

“Life is all about working to become the best possible version of yourself."

Steve Jobs

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

9) Seek Functional perfection

Johann Cruyff

“The object is to run as little as possible, not as much as possible"

Steve Jobs

“Design is not just what it looks and feel like, design is how it works."

10) Drive toward perfection

Johann Cruyff

“That's what we learned [at Ajax]. You tried something, that didn’t work for that [reason] and that. Do it again. Do something different."

Steve Jobs

"I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”

An amazing set of similar quotes by two visionaries of our time. Both autodidacts, no college, loved, hated, their words continue to inspire and shape us. Let's all be crazy enough to try to change the world, and when others don't understand, let them know that there is nothing to understand.


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