NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The secret to Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report CEO Steve Jobs' innovative brilliance, believe it or not, is his ability to say no. Carmine Gallo, author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, studied the enigmatic Jobs for years to learn what makes him tick and, more importantly, the secrets behind his creative brilliance.
Gallo recently stopped by
to talk about the lessons to be learned from Apple's secretive, innovative CEO.
What is the top innovation secret of Steve Jobs?
Steve jobs once said the secret to innovation is saying no to one thousand things, which means he focuses just on those products that mean something to his customers and to his clients. That also means eliminating the clutter. That's why iPods, iPhones and iPads are so easy to use. Because instead of adding more features, which is what the vast majority of companies are doing, they actually eliminate features to make it easier to use.
Is Steve Jobs an innovating genius or a marketing genius?
I think you can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can't communicate that idea it doesn't matter. That is why it is so important to Apple's success that Steve Jobs has become such a marketing genius. But you still have to have a great idea. And you still have to create and design products that excite and wow people. That's been the magic of Apple ever since he and Steve Wozniak started fiddling with electronics in the spare bedroom of Steve Jobs' parents' house.
Are there any other CEOs that apply these secrets to run successful companies?
One person who I have met recently and come to know is Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, which is now owned by
. And Zappos online is really considered the gold standard of customer service. He has a very similar ethos or philosophy to Apple. Apple creates these Apple stores and it's all about enriching lives. When you walk into an Apple store they are trying to make your life better. They are not just moving products, they are enriching lives. The same is true with Zappos. When Tony Hsieh started in the spare bedroom of his house in San Francisco, he asked himself what he could do to delight his customers and deliver happiness.
Will Steve Jobs share his secrets with his successor, whoever that successor may be?
I think Steve Jobs chooses the people around him who share his philosophy. A lot of people forget that the principle person behind the iPod is the head of design, Jonathan Ive. He was working for Apple when Steve Jobs was absent during that time in the late 1980s and 1990s. When Steve Jobs returned he recognized his talents. So Steve Jobs surrounds himself with the best people, obviously those people that will continue to work with Apple even after Steve Jobs moves on to his next step, whatever that may be.
Is Steve Jobs one of a kind, or can anybody succeed using the lessons spelled out in this book?
I think that regardless of your industry or profession, success leaves clues. And Steve Jobs has left clues for more than 30 years. They are fundamental principles that have driven his success and Apple's success since he started with Steve Wozniak. And they are principles that can help you in any field of endeavor.
What will happen when Apple has a big swing and a miss with a product? How will Steve Jobs react?
We saw what happened with a slight miss with the iPhone 4 when there was a problem with the antenna. Although at first he denied it and said it was the consumer's fault and you are holding the phone wrong, he came around and he gave a press conference and he actually admitted that the company made a mistake and would do better. I think consumers forgive mistakes as long as the principles are there.
Steve jobs is truly a visionary. Has he left any clues in the book as to his next big product?
He always looks out about 10 years, and I think there is something to be said for dreaming the big dream. He always says that it's not about what Apple does in the past, but what is happening next. So he certainly has his pulse on everything. They do not do focus groups, which is interesting. But Steve Jobs knows his consumers and his customers really well -- in many cases better than they know themselves. So whatever he comes up with next, you may not necessarily understand why you need it, but once you see it you will realize that it does fill a role in your life.
Reported by Gregg Greenberg in New York
Follow TheStreet.com on
and become a fan on
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.