Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, July 13, 2015

"What Steve Jobs learned, and why it matters"/ "centre stage at work"

May 30 "What Steve Jobs learned, and why it matters": I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Nov. 21, 2011.  It's a fast and easy read:

Cliff Kuang, editor of Co.Design, has been reading Walter Isaacson’s recent biography Steve Jobs, and has delineated six pillars that were at the centre of the Apple CEO’s design philosophy. On, Mr. Kuang says these design lessons Mr. Jobs learned early in his career imbued every product he created:

Craft, above all

Under Mr. Jobs, Apple’s concern for the details to make a product look great went beyond the necessary to what seemed almost gratuitous. He wanted his circuit boards in the innards of his first McIntosh to be beautiful, even if they would be unseen by the general public. The “Sunflower” MacIntosh, for example, had an exquisite laser-etched Apple logo. “As an owner, you might see that logo only once a year, when moving the computer. But it mattered, because that single time made an impression,” Mr. Kuang writes.


The “Apple Marketing Philosophy” memo, written by Mike Markkula, one of the first investors in the company and the third CEO of Apple Computer, caught Mr. Jobs’s attention with several key points. One was the call for an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer. “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company,” Mr. Markkula declared.

Mr. Kuang notes that the company was talking about consumer empathy before it even had consumers, when computers were being bought by hobbyists prepared to put up with frustrations. “The idea of understanding a consumer's needs before they actually needed what Apple was making has remained a hallmark of the company throughout its history. The idea of empathizing with a consumer before a market was even developed set Apple on the path of perpetually looking forward to find how people would behave,” he observes.


To do a good job at what Apple decided to do, Mr. Markkula noted, “we must eliminate all the unimportant opportunities,” something Mr. Jobs was zealous about.


People form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals that it conveys, Mr. Markkula noted, well before today’s branding experts made that notion more widely known. “People do judge a book by its cover,” he told Mr. Jobs, who was excited by the insight. “We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software ... if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; it we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities,” Mr. Markkula predicted.


A major conceptual leap by Mr. Jobs was to recognize that high-tech devices didn’t have to be foreboding – they could be friendly. It dates back to the smiling Mac icon and has continued as the design strategy appealed to consumers overwhelmed by the capabilities and complexities of the computer.

Find simplicity

For his computers to be simple, Mr. Jobs realized they had to be based on things that people already understood. So the Macintosh set out a desktop metaphor for its new graphical interface, which people could readily understand. Similarly, the physical gestures that control the iPhone and iPad are familiar from the real world.

"8 ways to take centre stage at work":  I cut out this article by Dianne Nice in the Globe and Mail on Nov. 21, 2011:

Early in her career, Kathryn Heath felt like she was blowing it with her new boss. She was asking too many questions about a project she was launching at a big bank in Charlotte, N.C., because she didn’t want to overstep her boundaries.

“The project involved a lot of top executives and I think I had frustrated her by standing at the door asking, ‘Can I do this?’” Ms. Heath said in an interview.

“After a while, I learned that I didn’t need to be the good little girl and do that. It was 10 times easier to bend the rules and move forward and empower myself, or have conversations with my boss and say, ‘Tell me about the playing field, and when am I going to go out of bounds and get in trouble?’ I figured out pretty quickly that the playing field was much bigger than I thought it was.”

The strategy worked: Ms. Heath eventually rose to senior vice-president and director of First University at Wachovia (now Wells Fargo). Now a career coach and co-author of the new book Break Your Own Rules , she says a reluctance to ruffle feathers and take centre stage is one of the most common things holding people back at work.

“They’re so interested in the team. They’re so interested in making sure everyone around them is developed that they don’t always say, ‘I’ve got to put myself in the middle,’” she said.

While team work is an asset, it’s important to be noticed for your individual strengths as well. If your team did good work, make it known that it was you who led the team, she said. “You’re the CEO of your career.”

Here are eight ways to take centre stage and get your hard work noticed:

Focus on yourself

Your career is a business that needs a business plan, Ms. Heath said. If you focus too much attention on other people’s needs, it leaves precious little time and energy to take the steps required to thrive professionally.

Call attention to your accomplishments

One sure way to be passed over for a promotion is by remaining silent and allowing others to take credit for your success.

Don’t wait for permission

There are plenty of situations in life where proper protocol entails obeying the established rules. However, there are many other times when you need to give yourself the green light to proceed, Ms. Heath said. Know the difference, and don’t be afraid to proceed independently.

Be an expert

If you don’t have a brand, develop one. Are you known as the person with the deepest technical skills, someone who fixes projects or makes great sales presentations? Become the go-to person for a particular strength. Don’t be afraid to let colleagues know what you are good at.

Be the dissenter

Get comfortable delivering bad news or introducing an opposing position. It’s acceptable to play the devil’s advocate as long as you have the ammunition and backbone to make a good case, Ms. Heath said. If you can do so in a firm, non-emotional way, people will respect you for it.

Play to win

Break out of your comfort zone and take risks. Accept the risk of failure. It may seem safer to let someone at a higher pay grade take the big chances, but it is the high-stakes decisions that offer the best opportunities to establish leadership credibility.

Act like you mean it

It’s not only what you say but how you say it that causes people to take your authority seriously. Speak honestly and directly with a minimum of “in my opinion” qualifiers. Keep your voice on an even keel, and just tell it like it is.

Break a few rules

Going by the book is necessary to perform CPR or to bake the perfect soufflé. At the office, however, you have some latitude to do things differently, Ms. Heath said. Change makers and radical thinkers aren’t generally the pushovers in the crowd. Do things your own way, and demonstrate that you have a style of your own.


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