The 10 Commandments of Fake Steve Jobs

We’re mostly big fans of Apple at GigaOM and definitely big fans of fsj, a.k.a, Dan Lyons. I mean, if you can’t laugh at genius, can you really appreciate it? (Or maybe: are you supposed to cry in the face of genius?)
I’ll admit I sometimes cry over Jobs’ success — ever since I wrote this big critical story about him in Fast Company, which academics and investors thought was sorta clever at the time because we basically called Jobs thick-headed for limiting Apple to such a miniscule share of the PC market. The cover image also made Jobs look dorky, which is really hard to do. (That illustrator must’ve been a genius.) Anyway, it’s so cool that Jobs took our advice (sort of) and changed his business model (sort of) and is now gaining market share again. (Who says old-school journalism can’t add value?)
Last week a couple of us GigaOMers attended a book party for fsj. (Look at Dan! He must be a genius. He’s glowing.)
Since Jobs is super-duper successful now, and since we can’t blame it only on the genius of the iPod anymore, we decided to read fsj’s memoir, oPtion$: the secret life of steve jobs, in search of management pearls for Found|READers. We found some. Read ’em and weep. Maybe one day you’ll be illustrated on the cover of a national biz mag under the tagline “Knucklehead,” and then you’ll know you’re ascendant.
10 Commandments of Fake Steve Jobs:

1. Never let people know where they stand. Keep them guessing. Keep them afraid. Otherwise they get complacent. Creativity springs from fear. Think of a painter… he’s going to starve to death if he doesn’t get his work done … Same goes for the people at Apple and Pixar. They come in every day knowing it could be their last … they work like hell; trust me.
2. You don’t have to hire the best people. You can hire anyone as long as you scare the shit out of them … Look at the crappy cars that get made in Detroit, where nobody ever gets fired. Compare that to the stuff that gets made in Vietnamese sweat shops … We can’t literally put our employees lives at risk [but] we never could have made OS X so reliable if our engineers didn’t believe [every] time a bug surfaced one man was going to be killed.
3. Only promote stupid people. But not just any stupid people. You have to find the certain type of stupid people who actually believe they’re super brilliant. They make insanely great managers and are incredibly easy to manipulate. It’s easy to spot them. Former McKinsey consultants are top candidates.
4. Never tell people what is expected of them. Hold people to an impossibly high standard, but here’s the twist — don’t tell them what that standard is. And fire them if they fall short. You know what that does to people? It makes them crazy…Crazy people are more creative. And more productive. Every shrink in the world knows this.

5. A manager should be inconsistent and unpredictable. Be random. One day say something is great and the guy who made it is a genius. The next day say it’s crap, and he’s a moron. Watch how hard that guy will work now, trying to impress you.
6. No praise. Ever. Management gurus also tell you to reward performance … I disagree … Start praising people and pretty soon they starting thinking they’re as smart as you are. You cannot have this. All employees must know at all times that you are better in every way than they are. Repeated criticism in the most humiliating fashion is one way to accomplish this.
7. Keep people’s spirits broken. Fire people on a regular basis for no reason. Fly off the handle, shout at people, call them names, then fire them. Or better yet, don’t fire them. let them believe they’ve survived for a few days. Then, when they’re relaxed, call then in and fire them.
8. Throw Tantrums. One [tactic] that should only be used in extreme circumstances … literally cry and scream and roll around on the floor like a three-year-old … It works because it freaks people out to see a grown man crying and screaming. They’ll do anything to make it stop. Brilliant.
9. Don’t speak to employees in elevators. I’ll get on the elevator… and smile or say hi … sometimes [employees] carry on a conversation with each other, one that does not include me. I’ll wait until we get to my floor, and then, as the door opens, I’ll turn and say: ‘What you just said is completely wrong. You know not whereof you speak. Please go clean out your desk.’
10. Start with the ad campaign. Part of what makes [Apple] different–and, yes, better–is the way we create products. We don’t start with the product itself. We start with the ads. We’ll spend months on advertisements alone … Everybody else starts with the product. [This] is why most advertising sucks. At Apple … If we can’t come up with a good ad, we probably won’t do the product.
Now watch Om’s interview with fsj from last week’s GigaOm Show for even more Genius Tips (see embedded video, top right).