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Steve Jobs was a lot of things, both positive and negative, but regardless of all that, he most certainly got things done. As the above quote reminds us, at least part of that was knowing when not to do something.

The quote comes from Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson. Here it is in context:

When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, it was producing a random array of computers and peripherals, including a dozen different versions of the Macintosh. After a few weeks of product review sessions, he’d finally had enough. “Stop!” he shouted. “This is crazy.” He grabbed a Magic Marker, padded in his bare feet to a whiteboard, and drew a two-by-two grid. “Here’s what we need,” he declared. Atop the two columns, he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro.” He labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he told his team members, was to focus on four great products, one for each quadrant. All other products should be canceled. There was a stunned silence. But by getting Apple to focus on making just four computers, he saved the company. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he told me. “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”

Sometimes you have to experiment a little to figure out which paths not to take, but knowing when to stop is an important quality to have. Jobs, who died in 2011, would have been 62 today.



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