Steve Jobs, the legendary founder of Apple, may have been an exacting leader not known for his patience, but his genius was never in question.
Jony Ive, Apple's senior vice president of design--as such, the man responsible for the style of devices ranging from from the iMac to the iWatch--broke down the dichotomy of Jobs' leadership style during a rare interview with Vanity Fair during the magazine's New Establishment Summit in San Francisco on Thursday.
Below, check out the two most important lessons Jobs imparted to Ive before Jobs passed away three years ago this month.
Ive told Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter that one of Jobs' strongest skills was the ability to be focused.
"Steve was the most remarkably focused person I've ever met in my life. The thing with focus is that it's not this thing you aspire to, like: 'Oh, on Monday I'm going to be focused,'" said Ive. "It's every minute: 'Why are we talking about this? This is what we're working on.' You can achieve so much when you truly focus."
Ive, who rarely grants interviews, continued: "One of the things Steve would say is, 'How many things have you said no to?' I would have these sacrificial things, I would say no to this, no to that. But he knew I didn't care about those things anyway. What focus means is saying no to something that with every bone in your body you feel is a phenomenal idea and wake up thinking about it, but you say no to it because you're focusing on something else."
Hold nothing above good work.
Ive said he remembers having a conversation with Jobs about how harsh the founder's critique was of a piece of work. "I said, 'couldn't we moderate the things we said a little bit?'" Ive remembered asking Jobs. When Jobs asked why he should be kinder to the team, Ive said: "Because I care about the team."
At that point, Jobs let some "brutally, brilliantly insightful" words hit Ive's ego:
"No Jony, you're just really vain," Jobs said. "No, you just want people to like you. And I'm surprised at you because I thought you really held the work up as the most important, not how you believed you were perceived by other people."
Ive admitted he was "terribly cross" but not because he thought Jobs was being mean but, rather, "because I knew he was right," Ive said. The lesson Ive learned is that it's more important to do really great work than to placate people and their emotions at the expense of great work.
Watch the video of Ive's interview with Vanity Fair below.