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Here’s to the crazy ones

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Think Different, Apple, 1997


In 1997, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy. 12 years after being fired from his own company, Jobs returned to Apple, taking it from a $2.3B valuation in 1997 into a $300B valuation in 2011 (year of his death)*. How did he accomplish this?

The turnaround

Jobs’ strategy relied on 7 product pillars: Core Values (Why), Customer (Who), Product Portfolio (What), Ways of Working (How to develop), Team engagement (Internal communication), Operations and Distribution (How to deploy), and Awareness (External Communication):

Product Pillars


(1) Embrace the core values. Upon his return, Jobs defined very clearly what Apple stood for: “We believe people with passion can change the world for the better”. The core values were repeated and embraced. They preserved Apple’s essence by highlighting what needed to go.

(2) Identify the customer. Jobs identified two target niches: customers aligned with the core values on the home consumer and professional segments. By knowing it’s customer, Apple was able to create memorable experiences that people were willing to pay for.

(3) Focus the product portfolio. Jobs killed 70% of Apple’s product line, reducing it to 4 products: a laptop and a desktop for consumers and for professionals. The smaller portfolio allowed Apple to focus resources on developing outstanding products catered to its customers.

(4) Implement ways of working aligned with core values. Jobs pushed for cost cutting as much as he pushed for innovation. He reorganized the company under a single P&L and gave functional decision making power to experts (while keeping product-market fit decisions at the top).

He also insisted on the highest standards. Jobs’ father, carpenter by profession, said that the back of a fence was as important to get right as the side exposed to the world. Under this principle, Jobs required top quality in everything (even in components that customers would never see!).

These standards were communicated to the whole company, setting clear guiding principles. The effort paid off with the creation of great products like the iPod (2001), iTunes (2003), and the iPhone (2007).

(5) Engage the team. Jobs’ message to employees was as passionate as it was clear: these are our values, our strategy, our products, and how we will get others excited about us. This was essential to revamp moral internally. This consistency reassured employees about the company’s leadership and its strategy, getting them excited to jump on board.

(6) Streamline operations and distribution. Jobs cut product complexity (through product standardization), regained quality control (ending licensing agreements), and simplified manufacturing (with a build-to-order strategy powered by an online store). This simplification not only reduced costs but also increased received quality.

(7) Create awareness on differentiation. When marketing the new Apple, Jobs did not mention technology or competition. He focused (again) on the core values. The ad campaign Think Different depicted geniuses from the 20th century who changed the world (like Apple was doing). Apple knew its purpose and advertised it in a compelling way, transmitting that if you wanted to change the world, you needed an Apple product.


The Think Different Campaign

It honors those people who have changed the world. Some of them are living, some of them are not. But the ones that aren’t, as you’ll see, you know that if they have ever used a computer, it would have been a Mac

Steve Jobs, August 1997

Think Different Campaign

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.And they have no respect for the status quo.

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.

While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

© 1997 Apple Computer, Inc.


*the company hit a $3T market cap in January 2022, being the first US company to achieve that feat


Catarina Pinto @catarinappinto