Willwork Inc.


Steve Jobs

photo credit: Steve Jobs, Apple

Two days ago posted in this space was a commentary on greatness achieved and history made.

As described in the post, the epic … the extraordinary … can be attained when people and companies are issued great challenges, when they are asked to do the seemingly impossible – and when people and companies respond to those challenges with full energy and commitment.

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services thrives on challenge; we are motivated to do what the competition can’t do. We have little patience for cynicism and a defeatist attitude.

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services admires drive, indomitable spirit, and competitive fire – qualities that inventor and entrepreneur Steve Jobs exercised day in and day out in building Apple, the company that developed and made products that people loved and had to have.

Consider how in 2005, while the first iPhone was being planned, Jobs decided that a plastic face for the phone would not do; it would not be elegant enough for the type of style of device that Apple customers craved, and to which they were loyal.

Steve Jobs wanted a glass face for the iPhone. Indeed, Jobs – who received a patent for the glass staircases featured in Apple stores – was semi obsessed about glass in design.

But was there a glass that had the aesthetics, but also the durability needed in a phone that would be dropped, slammed, dragged, and sat on?

John Seely Brown, a friend of Jobs, who sat on the board of Corning Glass, based in upstate New York, recommended that Jobs speak to Wendell Weeks, the CEO of Corning Incorporated. After some starts and stops, Jobs and Weeks connected and sat down to talk.

Jobs told Weeks what he was searching for in glass. Weeks thought he might have a solution.

Weeks told Job that in the 1960s, Corning had developed a highly resilient and tough glass, which it called, because of these qualities, Gorilla Glass. Yet the company had not found it a commercially viable product, and it had not pursued manufacturing it for market.

Wendell Weeks showed Steve Jobs a sample of Gorilla Glass. Jobs surveyed and evaluated the glass, and decided that was the glass Apple needed for the iPhone.

Steve Jobs issues Weeks and Corning a challenge. He said that Apple wanted as much Gorilla Glass as Corning could make in six months. Weeks replied, “We don’t have the capacity. None of the plants make the glass now.”

Jobs responds to Weeks, and the story continues, in this excerpt from the book, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson:

“Don’t be afraid,” Jobs replied. This stunned Weeks, who was
good-humored and confident but not used to Jobs’s reality distortion field.
He tried to explain that a false sense of confidence would not overcome
engineering challenges, but that was a premise that Jobs had repeatedly
shown he didn’t accept. He stared at Weeks unblinking. “Yes, you can do
it,” he said. “Get your mind around it. You can do it.”

As Weeks retold this story, he shook his head in astonishment. “We
did it in under six months,” he said. “We produced a glass that had
never been made.” Corning’s facility in Harrisburg, Kentucky, which
had been making LCD displays, was converted almost overnight to make
gorilla glass full-time. “We put our best scientists and engineers on it,
and we made it work.” In his airy office, Weeks has just one framed
memento on display. It’s a message Jobs sent the day the iPhone came out:
“We couldn’t have done it without you.”

Gotta love the words of the challenge that Steve Jobs directed toward Wendell Weeks: “Don’t be afraid …. Yes, you can do it. Get your mind around it. You can do it.”

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services knows that fundamental to successfully completing the job that can’t be done, and masterfully accomplishing what can’t be accomplished, is not to be “afraid” and to get our “mind around it” and to believe totally that we “can do it.”