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Counter-leadership from Jobs and Cruyff

January 29, 2020

“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