Seize The Moment (Are You Good Enough?)

Posted on June 12, 2013 by


By, Bob Lefsetz (

If you’ve got my attention…

Blow my mind.

Sunday, I’d never heard of Craig Federighi. Monday, I couldn’t stop talking about him, because he was so damn good in the Apple presentation.

Turns out, according the “Wall Street Journal,” in an article behind a paywall, that Mr. Federighi began at NeXT, moved to Apple with Steve Jobs, left to be CTO of Ariba and was wooed back to Apple in 2009. And when Scott Forstall was pushed out, he became the new software kahuna.

And you might not care about Apple, but this story is instructive.

It takes a long time to get your breakthrough moment. And when you get your opportunity, you’ve got to kill.

This is the opposite of conventional wisdom. People believe it’s about the fame more than the work, and that if you just get a chance, you’re in. But where are the losing contestants of “American Idol” today? Where are the WINNERS!

First and foremost, you’ve got to love what you do. Because that may be all that you get, the work experience. If your happiness depends upon becoming a household name, you’re gonna waste a lot of time in the trenches being frustrated. That’s the number one reason people give up, frustration, they don’t like that it’s so hard… Winners don’t always win because they’re better than everybody else, but frequently because they outlast everybody, there are fewer competitors down the road. I know, I know, music is a youth business. But that’s changing. Youth records don’t pay as well as they used to and oldsters have disposable income and are interested in music. If you think your chance expired when you hit your thirtieth birthday you’re thinking inside the box, and that’ll hurt you.

The biggest payment you can get in this world is attention. Everybody’s overwhelmed with incoming. When you presume we’ve got time to waste on you, you’re wrong. We’re not sitting at home bored, we don’t have time to do all we want, but we always have room for excellence. So when you finally get our attention, you’ve got to deliver. As for a second chance? That’s so twentieth century…

Don’t ask for someone’s time until you’re ready.

You can get your name in the newspaper, but if you think that ensures long term success, you have no Internet connection. You want to build yourself off the radar screen, you want to figure out what works, you want to become so good you’re undeniable.

I don’t know how Craig Federighi got so good. Watching him present at the WWDC was like watching a dancer, a figure skater, who continues to execute difficult moves without falling.

It was the jokes.

Anybody can tell the story, but can you endear yourself to us? Can you make us think you’re one of us?

First and foremost you must gain our trust. Sure, Kanye gets away with people hating him, but he’s the exception. You’re truly no better than the rest, you’re human, relate as such. And know that performing is a skill unto itself. You can’t throw in everything, you can’t wander, you’ve got to keep hitting the notes.

Oh, don’t tell me I’ve got to listen to the whole album ten times to get it. We only give that kind of attention to our heroes.

And at this point, that’s what Apple has become…

No one but a small coterie of fanboys watched Steve Jobs’s initial presentations. If he’d tried to launch the iPad without the iPod and iPhone, no one would have cared. Even Apple started small. As for the prognosticators, the hoi polloi…they said the company was doomed, Michael Dell said to liquidate and distribute the proceeds to the shareholders. Then Apple became the world’s most valuable company. Huh?

So you’ve got to believe in yourself.

But that’s not enough. There are more delusional people in the arts than in any other field. You cannot make it through sheer will, by having a positive attitude and performing affirmations. No, you’ve got to be positively realistic, launching a career is like launching a satellite…they don’t blast one off without running the numbers incessantly and a firm belief that failure is essentially impossible. In other words, it’s fact-based.

Fact… Are you good enough?

But art is about emotion. The delivery counts.

Craig Federighi delivered this week, that’s why I’m talking about him.

“Apple’s Rising Star: Craig Federighi”:

Article with WSJ excerpt:

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