“Would you rather sell sugar water to kids for the rest of your life, or would you like a chance to change the world?”
That’s the now-famous question Apple’s cofounder Steve Jobs used to convince John Sculley, a former president of Pepsi, to become Apple’s chief executive in 1983.
While Sculley and Jobs had a falling out in 1985 and never talked again, Sculley still speaks highly of Jobs and says in his new book, “Moonshot!” that the most important thing he learned from the late Apple cofounder was something called “zooming” — a process Jobs practiced on their daily walks around the Apple campus or Stanford University.
“When Steve would say, ‘John let’s take a walk,’ I knew he was thinking his way through a new idea or he was trying to unpack the complexity of ideas already in some stage of development,” Sculley writes.
First, Jobs would “zoom out” to get an overview of what different companies and domains were (or were not) doing, and would then “connect the dots” — which often led him to big ideas, like the Mac.
Next, he would “zoom in” to figure out how to simplify the idea and make it more appealing to the masses, Sculley explains to Business Insider.
Sculley recalls one particularly genius idea that came to Jobs after he visited Xerox’s PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) where he observed a $25,000 graphics-based computer prototype: Apple would build an even better product that would be easier to use and would sell for a mere $2,500.
“When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he was totally psyched, because he had just seen the future,” Sculley writes in his book.
His ability to zoom out (in this case, to see the potential in PARC’s computer prototype), and then zoom in (here, to figure out how to make it more consumer-friendly), is a big part of what made Jobs (and Apple) so successful, Sculley says.
He calls Jobs a “genius” and “the world’s most successful CEO maybe ever” — and says the big ideas (think iPod, iPhone, Mac) of the future are available to anyone who is willing to connect the dots and zoom.
“The future belongs to those who see the possibilities before they become obvious,” he writes.