Tony Fadell was like most employees. He used to silently celebrate when his boss went on vacation.
Fadell joined Apple in 2001, and soon realized that Steve Jobs’ downtime was not like most bosses vacations. A podcast episode of “The Podcast” recently featured Fadell.The Tim Ferriss Show,” Fadell – known as the inventor of the iPod and co-creator of the iPhone – said that when Jobs left the office, Apple’s employees would get two or three days of relative silence. They would then start receiving calls from Jobs with new ideas, often without prior notice.
“Steve would be on vacation and he would be pondering … the next product, the next direction for Apple, new technologies,” said Fadell, a former senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division who worked with Jobs for nearly 10 years. “He used that vacation to expand his thinking, get out of Apple’s daily grind.”
Fadell said that Jobs would read new books and engage in conversations about emerging technologies while he was off-duty. This helped him find inspiration from unexpected places. Jobs used similar methods to inspire creativity at work: Walter Isaacson, author of “The Inciting Artist”, wrote that Jobs used similar methods.Steve Jobs“Biography that “taking long walks was [Jobs’]”The preferred way to have a serious discussion.”
Isaacson actually wrote, Jobs asked him for the biography on a walking trip.
Jobs’ vacation habits made it difficult for his family. Fadell said that Apple employees would hear Jobs six times per day. “He would think, “Oh, lets go buy a musical company” or “Should I go and make this product?” “What technology is required to achieve this?” Fadell replied. “You would be Google to him.”
Fadell stated that you would typically need to quickly write some research and then send it to Jobs via email. Fadell said Jobs would often call back in 15 minutes with a different idea.
In some ways, Fadell said, the attention was flattering – an opportunity to brainstorm Apple’s next product with Jobs himself. Fadell acknowledged that the pressure can be overwhelming, especially since Apple’s employees are often already working on high-pressure tasks.
Fadell, who left Apple to start Google’s Nest Labs, said that he began to adopt some of Jobs’ vacation routines. Fadell stated that taking a few hours off from his desk each day helped improve his productivity and personal well-being.
“There’s a way to do it – to be high-performing, do amazing things, but to also give yourself the right amount per day, as well as per year, of time off and time to think,” he said, noting that he’s personally benefited from working out, eating healthily and cutting out alcohol. “During that time I was able come up with great ideas, solve problems when my brain was quiet.”
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