Here’s the advice Steve Jobs gave the director of Pixar’s The Incredibles

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Incredibles image
The superhero who saved Apple had some advice for selling superheroes to the public.
Photo: Walt Disney/Pixar

Apple and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs had some advice for director Brad Bird when he was making decisions about merchandise on the 2004 movie The Incredibles: “fewer things, better things.”

Bird recalled the advice during a recent online chat with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua (who, incidentally, just had his last movie acquired by Apple). Bird also recalled speaking with Jobs about the Apple Store, around the time the company was busy opening the first ones.

On the merchandise front, Bird recalled: “We were talking about merchandising and he said, ‘Fewer things, better things,’ and he was dead on. The studios’ focus has always been about the number of screens and not the quality of screens. On opening day, it’s possible to see a $300 million movie on the terrible, Coke-stained five-foot screen with 10 seats, and you should not be able to see a big movie on its opening in those kinds of conditions.”

This “focus on doing a few things really well” mantra was one that Jobs firmly believed in. When he came back to Apple in the late 1990s, Jobs stopped work on many Apple products. In their place, he created a trimmed-down version of Apple’s product lines with the focus being on a few high quality products. Jobs reportedly loved saying “no” to ideas in order to maintain focus, a trait his successor Tim Cook has continued to follow.

Jobs also frequently gave the “few things done well” advice to other entrepreneurs he liked. When Nike CEO Mark Parker called Jobs looking for advice in 2006, Jobs told him that: “Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.”

Brad Bird and Apple Stores

On the subject of Apple Stores, Bird recalled Jobs telling him how badly other stores sold Apple computers. “He said that there’s nothing enticing about the experience,” Bird said. “He wanted to control how people see his stuff. We’ve got to make going to theaters an enticing experience. We need to separate it from the home and we can’t let people think when they go, ‘My home sounds better than this.’ That should be impossible.”

According to Wikipedia, The Incredibles started production in earnest in mid-2000s when Bird signed a multi-movie deal with Pixar. The first Apple Stores, meanwhile, opened in May 2001. Depending on when Bird and Steve Jobs had their conversation, it’s likely that Jobs could have been neck-deep in fine-tuning the details for Apple’s innovative chain of retail stores.

Source: The Wrap