Browsing the archives for the quotes tag.

Two Birds, One Stone… Some Quality Inspiration & Lessons From Steve Jobs


Yeah, so I had two posts that I was itching to write today.  I knew the latest View from the Q posted and had something to do with finding inspiration in quality leaders.  Then, I wanted to give some props to a local stamping manufacturer, its leadership and interns after touring the facility again several months after a change of leadership shifted and rekindled improvement efforts.  Who knew the two posts would collide into one?

The connection with my experience today with the interns was that they inspired me with their enthusiasm for quality and pride in what they had accomplished.  There’s this percentage of people that just dive into things and get passionate about stuff. They see things intuitively focused on improvement and delight in creating efficiency, see opportunities in all things and go the extra mile to both learn and do. And, props to any organization that utilizes and supports these folks. I saw first hand what a win-win this opportunity creates. The View from the Q post also made me think of today’s facility tour as it relates to the focus on worker safety, involvement and respect that was referenced within a discussion by Paul O’Neill, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Experiences like this inspire me.

Getting to that ASQ post, Bill Troy is asking the quality community this month about having met someone whose teachings on quality influenced us.  And, my first response is that I absolutely must reference a recent Quality Digest article by Jeff Dewer related to this topic that is most excellent.  I’ve been thinking about this ever since. It was serendipitous to see the related ASQ post.

So, here it is… Steve Jobs is my biggest influence where quality is concerned.  Big surprise?! While I officially never “met” Steve, he does feel like an old friend having read through far too many books/articles/interviews and investing significant time into watching keynotes over the years.  The teachings are real.

The top five lessons I’d say have inspired me most include:

  • The quality of your work reflects who you are. Quality comes from within.
    • There’s a story about Jobs helping his dad with some kitchen cabinets. He mentions the moment his father scolds him for not putting equal quality into the back even though it could not be seen. He was influenced by and encouraged others to see that quality isn’t something that’s just cosmetic. The quality of your work in everything you do reflects who you are. It doesn’t matter if it’s seen or not.  You’ll know!
  • Never compromise on quality. 
    • Steve Jobs would not release products until they met or exceeded his expectations. There are stories of him throwing out months of R&D efforts to simplify or otherwise make something better. The Toy Story debacle is just one such story that really sets the tone.
  • Teams (and partners) are critical for success.  He demanded the best.
    • We are quick to talk about how amazing Steve Jobs was, but his role was really the visionary of it all.  Even he knew other people were better at the various components of his ideas/plans. He surrounded himself with people who were the best at what they did.  One could even say he drove them to be better than they thought they could be. This extended beyond his immediate team as well. Just think about Wendell Weeks when Jobs reached out to Corning for Gorilla Glass.  What Weeks thought would be impossible heeded to Jobs’ advice of “Don’t be afraid. You can do this.” And, they did.
  • Change is good. Adapting is required.  Anticipating is where it’s at.
    • Innovation and change were second nature to Jobs, and he had this special way of leading people to trust his direction. This is where I have people start declaring that Apple never innovated anything and that they only copied technology.  My most polite and brief reply to that is that it doesn’t matter who does it first. It’s who does it best that succeeds.
  • Quality of life matters.
    • My man Steve believed in quality of life. From trips of enlightenment to India to regular meditation and appreciation for nature, the guy notorious for being rigid and unconforming also had a profound understanding that quality comes from within and reflects our lives.

Direct quotes we all know and love include:

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

“Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”


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New Year’s Quotes… Top Ten Favorites


I was looking for quotes recently and came across some good stuff for the New Year.  Here are a few of my favorites so far:

Neil Gaiman – “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.  So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself.  Make New Mistakes.  Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.  Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

Benjamin Franklin – “Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man.”

Mark Twain  – “New Year’s Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.”

James Agate – “New Year’s Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.”

Bill Vaughan – “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. ”

Author Unknown – “A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”

Oscar Wilde – “Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.”

Plato – “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

Buddha –  “There are two mistakes that one can make along the road to truth… not going all the way and not starting.


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To being mindful…


“The practice of mindfulness will increase the quality of our learning & also improve the quality of our life.”

Amazon recently recommended a book that I couldn’t resist… Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness With Children.  Plum Village looks like an amazing place… amazing!

I’ve made it through most of the book and find it to be one of those books that you savor and go back to.  The first page sums it up best:

“May this book help you plant the seeds of mindfulness in the garden of your own life & in the lives of the children you nurture. And may you, your family, your school and your community reap a rich harvest of peace, contentment & togetherness.”

I’m not drinking any Kool-Aid or singing Kumbaya or anything, but if you really think about those words, it’s quite tempting.  In all seriousness, the book is great and offers some realistic things (tools, activities, etc.) you can do for yourself and others to really focus and connect with things around you… And, I translate that into success. For me, I find being mindful fuels my drive for whatever it is I’m doing.  And, it inspires me and gives me the kick in the butt I sometimes need to make changes and continuously improve.

Being mindful (aware of the moment) seems very easy, I know.  But, I assure you it’s one of the most difficult things to actually do.  For some, it comes naturally.  For the rest of us, it’s about being too busy or otherwise distracted from truly being in (and appreciating) the moment.

“You cannot transmit wisdom & insight to another person.  The seed is already there.  A good teacher touches the seed, allowing it to wake up, to sprout, and to grow.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Spring semester at HCC starts tonight, and I’m excited as always.  I’ll be teaching Intro to Business, Principles of Marketing & Principles of Management again… each one of them, good times!  My most significant suggestion for doing well in my class is to always be engaged and know what’s going on.  Rather than focusing on the long-term objective of scoring the credit hours, enjoy the moments in class when there’s an opportunity to learn new things.  Here’s to a great semester!

Sidenote: Another great book targeted to kids but great for all ages is Thinking Tools for Kids.  From fishbone diagrams to affinity exercises, this book simplifies key quality and decision making tools with fun examples and useful templates.  

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No one wants to die…


“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

One of the most inspirational speeches I’ve seen includes Jobs’ 2005 commencement at Standford…

And, my all-time favorite quote also comes from Jobs…

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

So, the world will obviously move on without Steve Jobs  (1955-2011) in it, but I hope we don’t soon forget the contributions of a true visionary… someone that really did make a dent in the universe. He was more than iPods and iPads… he just got it.

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Some academic insight…


Straight from the bathroom wall at HCC…

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