Jony Ive recalls how Steve Jobs taught him to say no, especially when it hurts to do it

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2017
Late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs taught his chief designer Jony Ive not only how to say no, but to reject ideas that personally excited him. That process continues to help him to achieve a level of focus -- one that he said that Jobs himself had mastered.




Ive spoke Friday at The New Yorker TechFest, where AppleInsider was in attendance. When asked about his relationship with Jobs, Ive lit up.
"Even if it's something that you think passionately about, focus means ignoring it and putting it to the side." - Jony Ive
"I had the most wonderful teacher in Steve," he said. "And I have never -- I have never met anybody with his focus."

He recalled that Jobs frequently asked Ive how often he would say no. And to appease Jobs, Ive said he would say no quite a bit -- but to things that he wasn't actually interested in doing.

The lesson from Jobs, Ive said, was to say no, and to say it with great sacrifice.

"The art of focus -- even if it's something that you think passionately about -- focus means ignoring it and putting it to the side," he said. "And often it's at real cost. And he (Jobs) was remarkable at that."




While Jobs was a master of focus, Ive admitted it is still something he struggles with to this day. He said that there have been a few occasion where he felt like he achieved that true level of focus.

"It's a little eerie," he said.

Ive did admit that Jobs could be hard on him. The New Yorker's David Remnick asked Ive if the abrasive nature of Jobs ever upset him. But Ive responded by recalling the dire situation Apple found itself in at the time -- on the verge of bankruptcy, having gone through a number of leadership changes, struggling to stay alive.

"The situation," he said, "was harder than his words."
patchythepirateStrangeDays
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    justme12 said:
    Hey Jony - you should have said no to the camera bump and the notch. Steve not only would have said no - he would have laughed that you thought they were design options. 
    I could probably list 100 things I would change about Apple products before those two less then trivial distractions would be considered.  Jony and Steve weren't infallible, they were focused.  Oftentimes that means deciding what small stuff can be not-sweated.
    SoliStrangeDaysRacerhomieX
  • Reply 2 of 39
    AvieshekAvieshek Posts: 100member
    Maybe, he's the right CEO, after finding a successor.
  • Reply 3 of 39
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 6,016member
    justme12 said:
    Hey Jony - you should have said no to the camera bump and the notch. Steve not only would have said no - he would have laughed that you thought they were design options. 
    Another guy who doesn't get how things work in real life. There are what we in real life call "constraints", such as the physics and physical space required for light optics in lens elements. Note that nearly every single leading smartphone camera now has a bump. And guess what? Non-OCD normal people don't give a shit. 

    As for trotting out Jobs ghost, congrats on using a very old, very bogus troll trope. You don't know what he would or would not have done or thought because you are a random person a rumors site with no actual personal knowledge or data relevant to anything other than spouting off personal opinions. And you know what they say about opinions and assholes.


    edited October 2017 pk22901randominternetpersonRacerhomieXmdriftmeyerRayz2016macxpressmacky the mackyshark5150fallenjtGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 39
    Joni you should have said "no" to ApplePark trees and doorlocks.
    And made for gradual progress in iPhone design - instead of 4 years of lamentation and now all sorts of complications & compromises as you didn't imagine a bezelless phone in a timely manner. You selfimage has become a blockade. You seem your own, pedantic parody
    edited October 2017 yojimbo007apple2c
  • Reply 5 of 39
    kamiltonkamilton Posts: 258member
    I am saying no to how quickly this thread has degraded into stupidity
    sdw2001andrewj5790ibillbwh1248JWSClkruppRayz2016Kenster999macky the mackyGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 6 of 39
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,907member
    justme12 said:
    Hey Jony - you should have said no to the camera bump and the notch. Steve not only would have said no - he would have laughed that you thought they were design options. 
    Another guy who doesn't get how things work in real life. There are what we in real life call "constraints", such as the physics and physical space required for light optics in lens elements. Note that nearly every single leading smartphone camera now has a bump. And guess what? Non-OCD normal people don't give a shit. 

    As for trotting out Jobs ghost, congrats on using a very old, very bogus troll trope. You don't know what he would or would not have done or thought because you are a random person a rumors site with no actual personal knowledge or data relevant to anything other than spouting off personal opinions. And you know what they say about opinions and assholes.


    As much as I think justme12 is going overboard with those criticisms, I do think he has a point.  Steve probably would have said no to the bump, and maybe the notch.  The former is exactly the kind of detail that would send him into a rage.  This is the guy that had to make sure the original Mac had wiring that was straight and clean aesthetically...inside the machine.  

    I also think you're going overboard yourself.  You don't need to attack him.  He  has every right to express his opinion.  Steve's penchant for detail and smooth, sleek design was as well known as his temper.  You don't need "data" to opine on what Steve may have done.  We know who he was.  We know the kind of products he'd get behind.  Aesthetics were everything to him.  This is the guy who approved the Cube and the sunflower iMac for Christ's sake!  
    apple2celectrosoft
  • Reply 7 of 39
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,062member
    justme12 said:
    Hey Jony - you should have said no to the camera bump and the notch. Steve not only would have said no - he would have laughed that you thought they were design options. 
    You have no fucking clue what Steve would or wouldn't have said, so stop pretending to presume otherwise. 

    Also, in case you weren't aware, the camera bump isn't comprised of empty space- it's as thin as it can possibly be while containing the required components for the photos it takes. They didn't randomly decide to make a thicket "bump", it was required. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 39
    Saying No instead of Yes is really hard for many people to do. Far too many people say Yes when they really mean No just for a quiet life.
    You can't have a real debate about anything without being able to say No!
    Moving forward in a design process involves a lot of Yes and No.

    Sometimes you do have to compromise. I suspect that the 'notch' is one of them. We shall see next year won't we?

    RacerhomieXwatto_cobratallest skil
  • Reply 9 of 39
    I would have said no to whoever removed the option of using color coding to highlight file names in the Finder. That job should never be left to a color blind designer. 

    alanhapple2c
  • Reply 10 of 39
    RacerhomieXRacerhomieX Posts: 95unconfirmed, member
    Focus, one thing Apple has been good at .
    The most profitable company in the world ,but all their products do not take up much space.
    badmonkwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 39
    plovellplovell Posts: 784member
    Camera Bump? I am not a fan. I realize that the size of the camera is the constraint so work with that. Make the phone just a bit thicker so it has better battery life. That would also have gone a long way to avoid "bendgate". Extreme thin-ness is way overrated.
    mizhouapple2celectrosoft
  • Reply 12 of 39
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,215member
    Avieshek said:
    Maybe, he's the right CEO, after finding a successor.
    I seriously doubt he'd be interested in becoming the CEO instead of doing what he loves, which is industrial and product design.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 39
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,215member

    Focus, one thing Apple has been good at .
    The most profitable company in the world ,but all their products do not take up much space.
    Perhaps at some point in the future, Apple will invent the most useful product in human history. It will be nearly invisible and have a massive markup. AAPL stockholders will be overjoyed. :smile: 
  • Reply 14 of 39
    justme12 said:
    Hey Jony - you should have said no to the camera bump and the notch. Steve not only would have said no - he would have laughed that you thought they were design options. 
    He wasn’t Jesus don’t be a tool 
    Rayz2016macky the mackyStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 39
     Steve was wrong quite often  - remember the cube ?
  • Reply 16 of 39
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,474member
    Bacillus3 said:
    Joni you should have said "no" to ApplePark trees and doorlocks.
    And made for gradual progress in iPhone design - instead of 4 years of lamentation and now all sorts of complications & compromises as you didn't imagine a bezelless phone in a timely manner. You selfimage has become a blockade. You seem your own, pedantic parody
    You mean like Steve said no to these things?












    StrangeDaysfallenjt
  • Reply 17 of 39
    thomprthompr Posts: 1,510member
    justme12 said:
    Hey Jony - you should have said no to the camera bump and the notch. Steve not only would have said no - he would have laughed that you thought they were design options. 
    Jobs gave us the hockey-puck mouse and the iPod HiFi BoomBox.  He wasn't perfect.  People forget that.

    Jobs knew very well that engineering trades had to be made and that some blemishes may have to appear in his products until the trades could be modified through the passage of time & improvement of tech.  The first iPhone lacked 3G, and it took several incarnations of iOS before copy/paste was even included.

    So when someone says "Jobs would never have allowed <fill in the blank>", I have to laugh and say, "how the f*** do you know what he would have allowed if you don't know what all the trades are?"
    edited October 2017 StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 39
    AI_liasAI_lias Posts: 261member
    Then I wish Ive personally felt passionately about, and said no to:
    >antenna lines shape in iphone 6 and 6s.
    >camera bump (use thicker battery to cover it up). Remember when he said that had the phone been thicker, less people would have used it, so the thin-ness was worth the battery life and camera bump... eyes rolling.
    >iOS 7 bad design choices
    >slippery aluminum phones (negates good aesthetics due to case being used), and rounded edges.
    Apple design was better when Steve was around, that's for sure. He was a good counter-balance to Ive.

    apple2c
  • Reply 19 of 39
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,215member
     Steve was wrong quite often  - remember the cube ?
    I could see Apple making a new Cube at some point, but much, much smaller. A powerful computing device the size of a sugar cube, for example.
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 20 of 39
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,794member
    thompr said:
    justme12 said:
    Hey Jony - you should have said no to the camera bump and the notch. Steve not only would have said no - he would have laughed that you thought they were design options. 
    Jobs gave us the hockey-puck mouse and the iPod HiFi BoomBox.  He wasn't perfect.  People forget that.

    Jobs knew very well that engineering trades had to be made and that some blemishes may have to appear in his products until the trades could be modified through the passage of time & improvement of tech.  The first iPhone lacked 3G, and it took several incarnations of iOS before copy/paste was even included.

    So when someone says "Jobs would never have allowed <fill in the blank>", I have to laugh and say, "how the f*** do you know what he would have allowed if you don't know what all the trades are?"
    This is pretty dumb.  You make the assumption every little product is designed by Jobs. Jobs is not superman.  If he can do that Apple will not need to hire so many engineers. Jobs was only focusing on some products that can turn Apple around from the Windows juggernaut . 
    watto_cobra
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