It’s Friday, let’s sweep! |”…but you will know and I will know”


Welcome to Friday! The last couple of week’s I’ve been focused on sharing digestible bites from this year’s Windermere Summit. I’ve shared with you my Top Ten list. #10 is worth expanding on, as promised…

#10 “but you will know and I will know” story – a Steve Jobs story about painting a fence.  A story about excellence.

I’m going to retell a story I heard on stage from one of our speakers that intrigued me. Note: I’m retelling it to the best of my knowledge – the details may not be 100% accurate however the overarching lesson is worth sharing.

Author Walter Isaacson was asked on several occasions by Steve Jobs to write his biography. Walter Isaacson – whom had penned the biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein – on several occasions deflected the idea of this request and told him, “maybe when you are closer to retirement.”

Early 2009, Steve Jobs’ wife called Mr Isaacson and said “if you are ever to write Steve’s biography, you’d better do it now” as Steve’s cancer was increasingly getting worse. New Years eve of 2009, Steve Jobs called Walter Isaacson – in a very reflective mood – and they began what would become the biography, “Steve Jobs.” > a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. *ps, I’m listening to the book right now!

One one of their long walks together, Walter and Steve walked the property of Steve’s childhood home. He pointed out the fence his father built. His father had too given him a hammer so he could work with him. As they were wrapping up painting that fence some 50 odd years ago, Steve thought they were done. They had painted at that point the inside of the fence. Steve was surprised to find out that they had the backside of the fence to paint. When he asked his dad about why they would need to continue because in Steve’s mind – no one will see the other side. His dad replied…

but you will know and I will know.

This lesson was firmly implanted deeply within Steve Jobs. His father loved doing things right. He cared about the look of the things you couldn’t see. Fast forward to the release of the first iPhone – you know, that business that started in Steve Job’s parent’s garage – yes that one!

Steve asked to see the first iPhone before the release. One of his techies brought it to him. Steve asked that the backside of the iPhone be taken off so he could see this inside. He looked at it. He referenced, “this is a mess.” The techie referenced, but Steve “no one will see the inside.”  Steve’s reply…

but you will know and I will know.

As Steve Job’s biography clearly depicts, he saw his products as an extension of himself. And yes, that “mess” was cleaned up before the release of the first iPhone – certainly caused a delay in coming to market.

Ok, back to us. As we look to 2020 and as we continue with a theme of SHIFT, where might your “product” become more of an extension of yourself. For me, I will double down in my mantra of people first, business second. The rest will take care of itself. How will we continue our story of excellence?

All in, for you.


People First. Business Second.

Laura Smith | Co-owner | Windermere Real Estate Co.

Side note on setting a goal: Steve Job’s overarching goal was to create a company that was so imbued with innovative creativity that it would outlive them. Did he succeed in his goal? I’d say so.

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