Entrepreneurs Believe

Former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, Nicholas Carr, looks at the Pranksteresque moves of Steve Jobs.

It’s hard to imagine the pleasure Steve Jobs must receive from singlehandedly upstaging the entire Consumer Electronics Show. There was just one moment during his two-hour presentation yesterday (at MacWorld) when he went off script, but it was a telling one. His clicker failed, and while he waited for his backstage minions to fix the glitch he launched into a reminiscence about how, back in the day, he and Woz hacked together a little device that could jam television signals. They took it over to Berkeley and used it to mess with the minds of the privileged college kids by interrupting their viewing of Star Trek. Jobs hasn’t changed at all. He’s still jamming signals, and getting a huge kick out of it.

Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 says, “Steve Jobs doesn’t give a shit what anybody else thinks. Neither does Google. Or Craigslist. For all the love-festing around “social,” “sharing,” and “community,” mosts of the biggest successes of recent years have been driven by a singular vision, rather than “collective intelligence.”
Karp believes it pays to adhere to your vision, instead of trying to placate the masses. This reasoning is, of course, mostly foreign to ad agency types. The agency business is all about serving one’s clients, and by extension, the masses. I’ve never been comfortable with this approach and probably never will be. I believe in catering to the needs and desires of individual customers. In other words, I believe my clients’ customers are my bosses. And that my job is to make them happy. It sounds simple but it isn’t.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. In order to both celebrate and critique the industry, I started AdPulp in Chicago in 2004. In 2006, I launched and led an agency content department at BFG. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.