This is a sample of Unlocking Potential: my newsletter about how to unlock your potential – and that of your team. Views are my own, and do not represent Qulture.Rocks' views in any shape or form. The newsletter goes out weekly(ish) and you can subscribe to it here.


Sorry for the hiatus. But it was all worth it.

The last week of June and the first week of July were pretty hectic since I was moving homes in preparation for our upcoming daughter. Now we're pretty much all set.

But that's not all.

I spent the last week in San Francisco (just got back). I was able to mix a bunch of fundraising meetings with a lot of reading and thinking. David Cancel talks about working on the business x in the business, and even though I don't fancy the possibility of being hands-off CEO, taking time off the office to work on the business from time to time is very positive.

Steve Jobs

The main thing I read this week was Walter Isaacson's famous biography of Steve Jobs, which I bought at an SFO bookstore while waiting for my checked bag. But, it's fairer to say I reread it, and for the third time.

It was interesting because I had been reading two related books in the past few weeks: a book by Randall Stross, who also wrote about Y Combinator, on the story of NeXT, and a book by Douglas Smith on the story of Xerox, the PARC, and how they missed the personal computer train.

On re-reading great books

Anyway, I like re-reading great books.

This rerun was even better than my first pass at the book was about seven years ago. For me, rereading a great book is quite interesting. I'm able to capture details I didn't remember anymore, and it seems, I don't know why, that I have more time to draw relationships between what I'm reading and what I'm living at work.

But most importantly, for me different books have different uses.

I've already talked about how The Hard Thing About Hard Things helps me on tough days. I think Isaacson's Steve Jobs is here to stay as a book I may go back to in the future to get a fix of inspiration about design, details, and, most importantly, values.

Back to Steve Jobs

If you've read The Fountainhead, you probably know what I mean. Ayn Rand's Howard Roark could have been based on Jobs [1]. They both are incredibly focused on what they think/believe is right. They seem to care little about what others think. They do care deeply about their work, their craft, and don't easily compromise these values they hold true for what seems like the easy way forward.

Anyway, Jobs was also a profoundly flawed manager, especially before being fired from Apple. The book has a fascinating thesis: different than what most people think and say, it was not being fired from Apple that made Jobs a better leader. It was what he did NeXT (pun intended). His failures in building NeXT where gigantic.

Gates and Jobs, Jobs and Gates

Aside from this non-obvious take on the making of Steve Jobs, this third pass made me reflect a lot about his relationship with Bill Gates and the paths both Apple and Microsoft took.

It's crazy how these two companies are still around and highly successful, fighting for the top spot in the world's largest market caps. Apple was born a hardware shop, lost the personal computer war, sort of won the mobile war [2], and now is becoming more of a consumer software/services company. Microsoft won the personal computer war, lost the mobile war, and has established itself as the largest enterprise software company in the world, but with much less of a focus (they also do a ton of consumer stuff). Two dramatically different leaders, two dramatically different strategies, two dramatically different paths took, but two incredibly similar successes, in terms of their scale and influence in our lives.

Jobs and the Bay Area

I think working on myself is one of the best ways to work on Qulture.Rocks. And taking time to recharge and be re-inspired is a great way to work on me. Both Steve Jobs and the Bay Area inspire me to think bigger and get out of my comfort zone, so this trip was a double whammy [3].

The Bay Area is where everything we're doing comes from. It's where software was born as an industry, and arguably where the world's best entrepreneurs flock to. It's also where Steve Jobs grew up, where he met Woz, where he started Apple, where he invested in Pixar, where he started NeXT.

And going there gives me a turbo charge of motivation to make sure the Qulture.Rocks story is a great one. To make sure we put a dent in the universe :)

That’s it for today. I hope this helps you unlock your potential in some way.

Any ideas of what we can do better?

Cheers and have a good week,


[1] Roark was supposedly based on Frank Loyd Wright, who, interestingly, is one of the personalities that Apple features in the “Think Different” campaign:

[2] It's pretty hard to say who's won the mobile war. Apple is by far extracting the most profits, but Google has more market share with Android.

[3] Thanks to Henrique, Rafa, Sandy, Boris, Steve, Aaron, Juan, Doug, Michael, Marc, Sam, and so many others for your time. I really appreciate it.