Note: While reading a book whenever I come across something interesting, I highlight it on my Kindle. Later I turn those highlights into a blogpost. It is not a complete summary of the book. These are my notes which I intend to go back to later. Let’s start!

  • Blunt is Simplicity. Meandering is Complexity.

  • Clarity propels an organization. Not occasional clarity but pervasive, twenty-four-hour, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners clarity.

  • In Apple’s world, every manager has to be a ruthless enforcer of high standards. If you’re willing to alter your standards from situation to situation, you and Simplicity are going to have a rocky relationship. Compromise will often just send you back to the drawing board and raise questions about your own talent in a client’s mind.

  • Simplicity’s most important rules: Start with small groups of smart people—and keep them small. Every time the body count goes higher, you’re simply inviting Complexity to take a seat at the table.

  • The quality of work resulting from a project is inversely proportional to the number of people involved in the project.

  • The quality of work resulting from a project increases in direct proportion to the degree of involvement by the ultimate decision maker.

  • When process is king, ideas will never be. It takes only Common Sense to recognize that the more layers you add to a process, the more watered down the final work will become.

  • Steve Jobs looked at pretty much everything with the idea of cutting it down to its essence, whether it was a new product or a new ad. He had an instant allergic reaction to any suggestion that might add a layer of complication—like a focus group.

  • The more things you ask people to focus on, the fewer they’ll remember. Lee’s argument was that if we want to give people a good reason to check out an iMac, we should pick the most compelling feature and present it in the most compelling way.

  • Minimizing the choices provides customers with a simpler path, 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. That relationship has lasting value. Conversely, charging excessive prices and offering confusing choices make customers feel like they’re being squeezed for every extra dollar. Not a good recipe for long-term customer relationships.

  • When in doubt, minimize.

  • Apple’s process:

    1. Aim realistically high. When Apple created the first iPod, it didn’t set out to create a portable player that could accommodate music, movies, podcasts, and photos. It created a music player. The rest would come later. In other words, don’t overreach—it’s important to achieve greatness, but your project has to end on time and deliver what you’ve promised. (Obviously, you shouldn’t underreach either. You can’t be so “realistic” that you produce something lackluster.)
    2. 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.
  • We stopped running the Think different hero ads as Apple’s new products began to roll out in quantity. Apple did not have to splinter its marketing dollars to run a brand campaign in addition to a product campaign. It had only one campaign. And every Apple product sold contributed to the brand image.

  • Apple branded itself using iconic images and two words that perfectly described the spirit of the company. Following that initial investment, Apple would never have to invest in a brand ad again. Every product became a manifestation of the Apple brand.

  • Considering the elegant design of iPod, it was a radical approach for Apple not to show the product at all in their ads. Especially when most of its other ads did nothing but show the product. Instead of asking you to buy this device, Apple was asking you to buy the emotion. Since iPod was all about music and joy, each ad simply conveyed the idea that someone was loving their iPod—without any need to show who that person was. These were incredibly human commercials, yet they never showed a human face.

  • The technology that drives Apple devices is incredibly complex. One with technical expertise could write dissertations describing how these “simple” devices do what they do. But Apple never will. It prefers to speak in more human terms. Apple didn’t describe the original iPod as a 6.5-ounce music player with a five-gigabyte drive. It simply said, “1,000 songs in your pocket.” This is the way human beings communicate, so this is the way Apple communicates. Human-speak is a hallmark of Simplicity. It’s the recognition that the best way to connect with people is to put things in human terms and use the words that people use in everyday conversation.

  • Simplicity calls for a clear strategy, followed by consistent messaging.

  • It’s because a company is likely to experience both success and failure along its trajectory that Steve Jobs was a firm believer in the concept of the “brand bank.” 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. Steve went on record many times about the importance of building a strong Apple brand. And he benefited from having a high balance in the brand bank many times.