The Steve Jobs Effect

What happens when one man or woman is the end all be all of a company?

On Monday Steve Jobs announced a leave of absence due to medical reasons. I hope he recovers quickly and is healthy for years to come. Leaders and innovators like Jobs are few and far between in the corporate world.

But not in small business.

Are you the proverbial “Steve Jobs” of your business? How can you prevent the potential chaos that would be detrimental to your business/start-up if you had to leave?

Let’s take a look at the Steve Jobs Effect.

What we are learning

  • Build a sustainable business when you’re not there.
  • Team collaboration.
  • Product and service development.

The Steve Jobs Effect

Everything from product announcement to medical leave announcements are carefully crafted at Apple. Their ability to control expectation is unmatched – uncanny even.

Jobs announces his medical leave on Martin Luther King Jr Day. A day the markets were closed. A day before their quarterly earnings.


Some investors were. Some were not.

Jobs is the obvious pulse of the entire Apple company. It was breaking news around all the media outlets. From the tech industry to stock market expectation – what would happen to Apple?

When markets opened apple stock was down roughly 20 dollars a share.

Enter the Steve Jobs Effect.

Are You The Steve Jobs Of Your Business?

Don’t be Steve Jobs in the sense of your potential absence crippling your business. Be Steve Jobs in the sense of vision, leadership, and building a great company.

1. Scale Yourself

Steve Jobs has Tim Cook to take his spot. Cook has worked at Apple for nearly 11 years and has certainly taken cues from Jobs over time.

If you can, scale yourself by passing smaller responsibilities or tasks to other employees. If you don’t have other employees, evaluate the potentials of hiring some.

Sure there might be a short term cost – but look at the longer investment

  • Will you have more time to develop product?
  • Are you going to open up to more sales?
  • Maybe enjoy some free time so you don’t get burned out?

All valid reasons to hire someone new and more importantly – man the ship if you’re not around.

2. Develop A Better Pipeline

Here’s what Apple has up their sleeve for 2011 and the Jobs absence announcement:

  • Blockbuster Earnings Report.
  • iPhone 4 for Verizon.
  • Mac App Store.
  • New OS Slated for the summer.
  • iPad 2 Rumors.
  • iPhone 5 Rumors.

That is pretty darn substantial. All lined up and ready to be lead by Cook.

What products or services can you set in motion for the rest of 2011? Can you start blueprinting some new opportunity that can be developed over the course of the next few months?

3. Nurture Talent

Always be inspiring and nurturing talent.

Any great leader should be doing this with his or her team on a daily basis. Push your team to create, lead, and sustain themselves.

At Slocum Studio, we achieve this by using certain tools like

  • Basecamp for meetingless operation.
  • Highrise for contact and lead management.
  • Yammer for quick and private link sharing.
  • Brainstorming sessions for new product and service.

I try a Google approach with my team. Take some time to develop a new concept, product, or service and let’s see if we can make it happen.


All Business rhetoric aside – I hope Steve Jobs comes through all of his medical issues healthy and happy.

Say what you will about Apple, I think he is an amazing leader and visionary. Matter of fact, I think all of us entrepreneuers are. We have the vision and passion to acheive our goals.

So why not take a moment to think about how we can put certain linchpins in place to keep our goals on the right track?

What are you doing to avoid the Steve Jobs Effect?


4 responses to “The Steve Jobs Effect”

  1. Weekly Wrap: Being An Underdog. The Steve Jobs Effect. Get A Job.

    […] The Steve Jobs Effect […]

  2. Matt,

    I agree that it is critically important we don’t become reliant on one person to lead our teams.

    Apple is a unique company which has been driven by one expentional leader’s vision.

    However, not many other companies have that same individual at the helm.

    But many of these companies view the world of Apple as a guide on how to be a great entrepreneur which it really isn’t.

    It makes me think a lot closer about autonomy and topics discussed in Daniel Pink’s book “Drive”.

    How can we enable teams to become their own leaders and fulfil their potential without a Steve Jobs leading them?

    1. Matt Medeiros Avatar
      Matt Medeiros

      Josh –

      Well said!

      To answer your question, I try and inspire my team to think for themselves, show them I TRUST their decisions, and make them responsible for their actions (good or bad.)

      Of course, you have to find the talent/team that’s willing to operate in this fashion.

      1. Matt,

        Yes, team accountability is the key to giving them the right to make their decisions.

        If they aren’t accountable, nothing gets achieved!

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