Friday, July 19, 2013

Bold, Brash & Brilliant Will Not Be a Standard Biography

There have been so many straightforward biographies about Chaplin, Kelly and Jobs. Chaplin has been examined for his movie making skills, his comedy, pathos and womanizing. Even his politics have been scrutinized. Gene Kelly's dancing, wardrobe, masculinity and physique have been studied for years. Steve Job's management style, his ideas on design, his battle with cancer and his religious beliefs have been explored.

Just when you think there is nothing more to write, you're wrong. I'm covering each man on their pursuit of the perfect product, their work ethic, how they treated those closest to them at work and at home and what their ultimate goal was in seeking perfection.

In the case of Chaplin, it was the search for the finest detail in a comedy routine, a pantomime to convey a mood or feeling, or a physical gesture. He would do as many as 300 takes for one scene to get it right. He would often stay away from the studio for days, weeks or even months if he did not have an idea refined. He kept his entire staff on payroll since he owned the studio. He was the only writer, director, producer, lead actor and even composer of music for most of his movies.

Gene Kelly worked tirelessly to have the dance flow naturally from the storyline and to keep it from simply being an afterthought like musicals of the 1930s. He and his partner, Stanley Donen, developed new techniques for using the camera as part of the dance and how to extract the last ounce of style and form from himself and his dancing partners. He, like Chaplin would repeat takes over and over again to get them perfect.

Steve Jobs drove himself and his teams to the brink of breaking to get the perfect user experience. He strove for quality to the inth degree in every product. He would have dozens, if not hundreds of prototypes built of products and he, alone, would decide what to present as a finished product to the public.

What they all had in common, was complete creative control. Chaplin had it for 90% of his career, except for the first 6 of his 87 movies. Kelly had total control of his choreography for virtually all of his movies as well as getting highly involved in lighting, camera angles and movement, set design, wardrobe and directing some of his films.

Jobs had 100 percent control throughout his two stints at Apple and his time at Next. He knew what the public wanted better than the public. Apple stores, with over 375 in operation, have the highest $$/sq ft sales of any store chain on earth, including Cartier. People flock to them as they flocked to Chaplin movies.

When you see a Chaplin comedy, a Kelly Musical or use an Apple product, it is an experience like no other.

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