by Dirk Bronne
What are you wearing today, dear reader? Hopefully, like me, you are in your pajamas. It is my sincere hope that you have the opportunity to spend more time in the future in your comfy PJs.
But I digress. We are here to discuss Steve Jobs. And being naked.
Let's start with Jobs. What more can be said? Regardless of your feelings about the man, I think we can agree that he had a pretty good understanding of marketing. In fact some people say marketing was the only thing he understood. Supposing that is correct, then it must also be true that he took his role as the chief showman of Apple extremely seriously. And as most everyone knows, he did. One way he expressed his commitment to publicly representing his company was by becoming something of a visual icon himself.
In the film Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne said, "As a man, I'm flesh and blood. I can be ignored. I can be destroyed. But as a symbol... as a symbol I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting." Of course this foreshadowed the character's eventual adoption of the dark and symbolic costume of a legendary hero, but the same thinking could be applied to the "uniform" that Steve Jobs developed for himself: a black mock turtleneck, blue jeans, and sneakers. Whether you're waging a one-man war on crime or selling iPads, a signature look can be an extremely powerful part of one's personal branding.
It's not difficult to imagine that someone as marketing-savvy as Steve Jobs would spend time thinking about his clothing. The Walter Isaacson biography revealed that Jobs had been pondering something like a "corporate uniform" since the early 80's. Isaacson's book also recounts the story of how Japanese designer Issey Miyake produced a hundred black mock turtleneck shirts for Jobs, enough to last a lifetime. So bearing that in mind, the critical question we must now ask ourselves is this:
Why didn't Steve Jobs make his own clothes?
It's a fair question, isn't it? I mean, the guy thought a lot about clothing, branding, showmanship, etc. He was also clearly a very smart guy, an innovative guy, a guy who was really good at creating stuff that people liked. So why depend on someone else for the important task of clothing production? You would have advised him to weave his own shirts, right?
Um ... no, because that would be stupid.
It doesn't matter how smart or innovative or creative someone is. For most people the idea of making their own clothing is ridiculous. Yes, clothing production is certainly important -- it's a vital and necessary trade -- but I think we can all agree that it's okay to leave that to the people with expertise in fashion, clothing materials, etc. In fact, I believe most people would say attempting to do that kind of specialized work yourself would be a disaster.
Can you imagine yourself presenting a keynote address to a ballroom filled with important people in a hand-made suit that you weaved together in your living room? Yikes.
And yet ... today thought leaders are told that they should always write their own material. After all, thought leaders are smart, innovative, and creative people. If they are so smart, innovative, and creative, then shouldn't they all be writing their own blog posts?
Um ... no, because that would be stupid.
Most thought leaders are not grammarians. Most thought leaders don't understand how search engines work. Most thought leaders can't produce multiple variations of the same material accounting for slightly different audiences and/or delivery channels. The idea that all thought leaders must have these specialized skills is ridiculous.
Exceptional leaders understand their limitations and depend on the expertise of others to achieve their goals. Putting faith in those who have different skill sets comes naturally to them. Over the course of my career I have had the pleasure of helping leaders like these succeed. And as a ghostwriter, I appreciate the wisdom of these leaders.
Isn't it risky to put important messaging work into the hands of a ghostwriter? No. It’s more risky not to.
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked."
~ Steve Jobs