Ten years later: iPhone’s impact


Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone on this day ten years ago during his 2007 Macworld keynote.

I remember watching the recorded keynote later at home on my beloved first Mac (the adorable white iMac G4*). I sat enthralled watching Jobs masterfully and with obvious glee unveil the never-before-seen features of this new device. I gasped along with the audience at touchscreen scrolling and pinch-to-zoom. I recognized immediately that this device was indeed the breakthrough device Jobs was pitching it to be.

The video of that keynote is worth rewatching even if you’ve seen it before, and it’s definitely worth seeing if you’ve never seen it. It’s embedded here along with a fascinating oral history of what led to the moment.

That moment is a turning point in technology, but also, in many ways, in our culture. We take it for granted now that a powerful computer with access to all the world’s knowledge and all of our most treasured photos and favorite songs can fit in your pocket. Before January 9, 2007 that possibility would have seemed far fetched. 

But Jobs’s keynote was remarkable as a form of presentation art as well. That moment was peak-Steve Jobs. The preparation for and execution of that keynote has become legendary. Jobs was in his element. He knew he had the substance—a once-in-a-generation product that he knew would change everything**—and he brought all the powers of his charismatic style to the moment.

The change sparked by the iPhone is remarkable, and its influence on its competitors and on technology and culture at large is undeniable. The world viewed through the prism of the iPhone generation looks different now than it did ten years ago. Better in many ways. Worse in some. 

It was a triumph of engineering and design. And a triumph of imagination. 

What could appear—what can even you bring to life—that might alter the way we can improve the human experience over the next ten years?

Think different, indeed.  


*I still have this Mac tucked away on a little used desk in my home. I don’t power it on. But it’s still beautiful to look at.

**January 9, 2007 was also the day that Apple officially dropped the word “Computer” from the name of the company. Jobs knew Apple would never be the same after that day, too. It went from being an iconic, but second-tier computer maker to the most valuable and influential company in the world. 

It’s called “giving” a speech

I saw this tweet today from Chris Anderson, who is the TED Talks guy and knows a bit about what makes for an effective speech. (He has a new book out on that very topic.)

Instead of approaching a speaking opportunity with the focus on you, the speaker, focus instead on the audience and what you hope to give them.

It’s not about what you want or what you can accomplish or your agenda or the applause or laughs or approval you hope to receive.

What’s your gift to the audience? How can you share something that meets their needs, that just might awaken a new possibility in them?

This, of course, applies well beyond just speech-making.

Whatever your art or your craft or even just your pay-the-bills kind of job, consider the gift you can offer with it, how you could create something meaningful for someone else. See if that perspective doesn’t transform your work and maybe your own sense of purpose.

Showing my work: The Good Life, San Diego

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I’m giving the opening talk at my professional association’s annual conference in San Diego next Tuesday.

I’m not ready. Yet.

I’ve had a theme in my mind for a few months now, but the ideas are just now coming together.

When I’ve been asked to do these kinds of conference talks, I’ve been fortunate to be given the freedom to talk about what I choose, whatever I think would be of interest to this audience.

I do begin with the audience in mind. If I were in their seats, what would I want to hear? How would I want to feel? What ought to be said at this event, at this time?

But I’m also channeling whatever key idea has been churning in my brain recently, and having an audience is an opportunity to explore that idea in a structured way.

My aim is to awaken possibility and to send my audience out better than they were before they walked in.

I don’t know how effective I’ve been at transforming audiences, but I know that making the attempt to convey something meaningful to others certainly transforms me.

If you’re given a chance to express yourself, to speak or write or connect with others in any way, take it. It might make a difference for someone else, and it will make a difference for you.

*The screenshot of my desktop today shows my work in progress on this talk, and includes the apps Keynote, iA Writer, and Notes. I collected ideas in Notes on my phone, then began connecting them together with a narrative written in iA Writer. Lastly, I create slides in Keynote.


My next computer: iPad Pro


I’ve been an iPad guy since the first version was announced in 2010. I loved it immediately and used it mostly for reading, but also for writing.

It was just supplemental, though, to my iPhone and the two iMacs I had—one at the office and the other at home.

The home iMac is old now and sits unused. I use my iPad mini for most of my computer tasks away from the office. It’s a great device for reading, and it’s so good as my presentation device. I use the iOS Keynote app and a VGA adapter to connect the iPad to a projector, and I use my iPhone as the remote. It’s a lightweight, minimal, and rock solid presentation setup.

The iPad mini is also the device that I do a lot of writing on. But that’s where the mini falls short for me. The screen is just too small. I pair the iPad with an external Bluetooth keyboard, but the canvas I’m writing on seems too constricting. The screen is too small for me to write comfortably. Inserting a cursor in the right location and highlighting text can be frustrating. I find myself writing less away from my office iMac just because it’s not as enjoyable to write on the tiny iPad mini screen.

I was intrigued when Apple introduced the new, very lightweight Macbook last year. The form factor is gorgeous. The screen looks impressive, and I was eager to try the new keyboard design. But the computer seemed a bit underpowered. However, I imagined its second iteration might be my dream writing machine.

When Apple introduced the 12.9 inch iPad Pro last fall, it seemed almost comically large to me. “Who is going to want that?” I wondered.

Now, I want that.

I keep hearing about people who have replaced their laptop (or even their desktop) with this new iPad. Federico Vittici, Jason Snell, CGP Grey and Myke Hurley, Serenity Caldwell… All are iPad-Pro-as-laptop-replacement evangelists. 

And now, even Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s former head of its Windows division, has written that the iPad Pro has become his primary computer.

I appreciate the simple elegance of iOS versus OS X. There’s less to fiddle and fuss with. There’s less distraction and a more focused environment. It’s a truly modern and mature operating system. 

And now, with the most powerful computing power ever in an iOS device and a screen bigger than the entry level Mac laptops, the iPad Pro may be my ultimate computing device so far. It’s at the top of my wish list. 


Showing my work: The Five C’s of Leadership

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I was asked recently to guest lecture in a leadership class at my university.

My original plan was to do a very informal talk without slides. I was going to base it on my Five C’s of Leadership post.

The morning of the class, though, one of the students who works for me and is also in the class told me I should do slides because he wanted his classmates to see my approach to using visuals in a presentation.

So, I whipped up some slides pretty quickly.

Now, I’ve been asked by another student who was in that lecture to offer the same talk to an organization he’s in. I tweaked the slides today, and I’ll speak to his student leadership society tonight.

A good presentation is about the connection between the speaker and the audience. It’s not about the quality or content of the slides. If your slides can stand alone, then what was the point of showing up to speak? Just email your slide deck to the audience.

But I find real value in connecting strong images and key words on screen with the message I’m sharing. Visuals done right can make the ideas resonate and stick with an audience in a way that just hearing the talk can’t.

More great public speaking advice from Nick Morgan

Nick Morgan keeps giving away solid advice about public speaking. If you speak in public ever, you really should be following his blog. (And his book, Give Your Speech, Change The World, has been required reading for my team.)

Today he posted an excellent list of twelve public speaking rules.

Rules three and four on his list particularly resonate with me:

3. By the end of the hour, you should be talking love. You get attention by identifying a problem and playing it up. Look at the current American presidential candidates; you’d be pardoned for thinking that Armageddon was around the corner if you took them seriously. But by the end of the talk, you should be covering what it is that you love and what’s working in your world. Long-term careers are based on positive trajectories, not negative ones.

4. You put your ideas out there; you can’t control what the audience does with them. It’s your job to present your case with passion. The audience has its own issues, and you have no control over the extent to which they take up your ideas or not. Success is making your case, not in getting the most votes – or even a standing ovation.

Indeed, “you should be talking love” as you make your call to action. What’s the point of standing in front of an audience if not to give them something you care about that can send them away transformed for the better?

It’s called “giving” a speech, right? Have a gift to offer. Talk about something you truly care about, that you love, and leave your audience with that gift, whether it’s awakening them to new possibilities or calling them to action in a worthwhile pursuit.

And Morgan’s fourth rule can be magical for not just your speaking events, but for all that you do.

Don’t be attached to the outcome. Focus on what you can control—your effort, your energy, your emotion, your authentic in-the-moment presence. The intrinsic rewards should take precedence over the extrinsic ones.

Give your speech with as much craftsmanship and energy as you can. Offer your gift. Then let it go.

Every audience is unique. Some may not give you the feedback you hope for or the smiling, engaged expressions that let you know they’re with you.

I’ve had audiences that seemed to just stare blankly at me only to find out later that several found the experience to be transformational.

Regardless, do your best. Give the audience all you have. If you don’t feel a bit drained when you finish, you probably didn’t summon enough energy or uncork enough emotion.

When in doubt, especially when facing an audience that’s not showing you the love, ramp up the awesome rather than scaling it back in self-defense.

Put out more energy, connect more intently, and be bigger on stage than seems reasonable to you.

Spread your love. Give your gift. And be content with that.


Boston keynote slides

Here are the slides from the keynote I’m giving tonight to a group of more than 200 college students at a conference in Boston.

Of course, my slides are not the presentation, they’re just there to support the interaction between the speaker and the audience and to add the power of visuals to help the ideas stick.