In 1988 Jim Collins, the author of the bestselling business books Built to Last and Good to Great, cold-called Steve Jobs.
“He was truly in the wilderness,” Collins tells Inc.’s What I Know podcast. Jobs had resigned as Apple chairman three years earlier, at age 30. He agreed to come talk to Collins’s business class at Stanford University, and the two stayed in touch. Collins came to see that Jobs, as he said, “never lost the passion for what he was doing, and he was growing and he was learning.”
It was that learning that led to remarkable growth–and what Collins has come to see as “Steve Jobs 2.0,” an entirely different leader and manager than he’d been when he started the company. When Jobs called him two decades later, in 2007, he saw the result of the growth when he asked Jobs what he’d prioritized upon returning to the company he founded. Jobs said he focused on finding the people there who still believed in the original vision of the company.
“As part of that was an evolution to seeing that it’s not about just being a genius with a thousand helpers, it’s about creating a culture of genius that ultimately doesn’t need the genius,” Collins says. In his second stint Jobs led Apple to be a great company–a company that of course survived its genius.
Collins has spent his career studying what makes companies grow and last. His most recent book is a new release of his first, called Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0. In it, he adds his “view from 2020,” including a chapter on the importance of surrounding yourself with passionate people–partially inspired by his encounters with Jobs. And it’s never been more apt than this year, when so many companies are working remotely–and so many individuals need to still feel a sense of community.
“If we really take care of our people, so many of the other things will take care of themselves,” Collins says. “And for me, for a 2021 lesson, that is one that I hope we really embrace.”
Listen to the full episode on Apple podcasts, in the player below, or wherever you get your podcasts.