K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple, Spanish.


I just finished reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Good book. At 656 pages though, I was a bit concerned. Jobs was a fascinating guy, but 656 pages?



Who does Isaacson think he is? 

Ayn Rand?


Nonetheless, Isaacson pulled it off. The 2.1 pound book (really) is a page turner. I couldn’t put it down.

One of the ironies of Steve Jobs (aka Esteban Trabajos) is that this incredibly complex individual was incredibly focused on simplicity.

Jobs was relentless about keeping things simple on his Apple products.



My remote control has 54 buttons (I counted). I can barely turn the TV on. My iPhone has one button. My 10-month-old can FaceTime his grandmother. Simplicity. More is not always better.






Jobs is on the cover of Wired Magazine this month. Plenty of banter about how we should act more like Jobs (“He demanded excellence!”) or less like Jobs (“He was an a**hole who yelled at innocent baristas!”), but I’m not interested in that.



If you read the book, you will undoubtedly find things you admire and loathe about Jobs. If you want to apply them to your life – knock yourself out.




But two stories from Jobs stuck with me regarding Simplicity.



The first was when Jobs was in the 8th grade. He was building something (Geiger counter… Frequency counter… whatever.) and needed parts. So what did he do? Jobs got out the phone book and called Bill Hewlett.

The Hewlett in Hewlett-Packard.

The President of Hewlett-Packard.

Jobs got the parts. And he got a summer job.




The story is amazing in its Simplicity. Jobs needed parts. So he called a guy who definitely had access to those parts. And Jobs got what he wanted.




Decide what you want and then figure out a way to ask for it.





The second story was from the Atari days. Everyone knew Jobs was smart, but he was rude and he stank. The rudeness came from Jobs. The stank came from consistently not bathing. So Atari assigned him the night shift. (This is more of an aside. A smelly jerk is not necessarily simple….)

Jobs had deep admiration for the instructions to Atari’s Star Trek video game. He thought they were brilliant in their Simplicity. And they were.



Star Trek by Atari :: Instructions.

Insert Quarter.

Avoid Klingons.





Hard to misconstrue.

Hard to screw up.




On the jobsite when working with Hispanic workers, sometimes we overlook the simple solución. We get caught up with the details.


Does he speak Spanish? 

Should I just call the guy in the office?

How would I say “opportunity for improvement”? 

Will I insult them if I try to speak Spanglish?

Hey… why does Spanish music sound like Polka?




Sometimes the simplest solution is to show the worker what you want fixed. This can be done with a single head-nod or the curling of an index finger.



Or, you can simply say:



Follow me.



Regardless of language, workers want to do a good job. If there is an issue, show it to the person responsible for fixing it.

Keep it simple.

Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry.

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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