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Friday, June 5, 2015

Howard Hughes, Steve Jobs and Sammo Hung

Howard Hughes
Howard Hughes was heir to a Texas fortune. At one point, the company he inherited (Hughes Tools) made him $55 million a year in the early to mid 1900s. If you adjust this for inflation, this is unimaginable wealth. This was pure passive income for Howard Hughes because he had hired someone to run the day to day operations of Hughes Tools.

He used his wealth to indulge his hobbies - film making and aviation. Howard Hughes was obsessive about quality. The movie scenes he directed had to be perfect. He did not mind shooting and re-shooting scenes to get the perfect take. When he realised that his silent movie Hell's Angels would lose out to the newer sound movies, he re-made the movie into a sound movie, with a new actress!

Howard Hughes did not just build model planes. He built real ones. In this regard, he did not care whether something was impossible. At a time when everyone knew that rivets had to stick out from the skin of the aircraft, Howard Hughes decided that he wanted flush rivets. So, he and his team invented flush rivets. He would scrunch up entire planes with one defect, like writers scrunch up paper with a single spelling error.

It had to be perfect.

Source: HERE.

Stick Out Rivets

Flush Rivets

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs demonstrated the same obsession with perfection. Just one month before the first iPhone was to be released, Steve Jobs discovered scratches on his iPhone prototype. It did not matter that everything was ready and poised for mass production. Steve Jobs decided that he wanted unscratch-able glass AND everything had to be ready in 6 weeks for mass production. It did not matter that no one believed that such glass existed. It turned out that gorilla glass had already been invented by Corning Glass but had found no market. Even then, Steve Jobs actually at first doubted gorilla glass and he was prepared to invent a whole new type of glass for his iPhone.

It had to be perfect.

Sources: HERE and HERE.

Sammo Hung
Watch Sammo Hung fight HERE. Even Jackie Chan acknowledges Sammo Hung's seniority. Sammo Hung has been known to spend an entire day on re-shooting a single fight scene. Back in the 1960s, little attention was paid to stunt safety. The fight scenes were real. The punches were real and did hurt. The flips and back flips were real. Sammo Hung evaluated the feasibility of certain stunts thus, "Will I die or just get hurt?" If the answer was "get hurt", then he went ahead the stunt.

It had to be perfect.

Source: HERE

I am fascinated by these people who live their craft(s) without compromise. Their respect for quality and demanding standards blessed millions and changed the world. In just about every profession, the people who rise to the top do not compromise. Think Gordon Ramsay and the demanding standards in his kitchen. Think Heston Blumenthal and the precision in his cooking. Think Ben Stiller, who is known to be extraordinarily particular about every detail.

These are amazing people. I really think so.

They may not be easy to live with. Steve Jobs and Howard Hughes were not nice people. Sammo Hung had a temper so bad that if he were in bad mood, people tried to breathe silently. We know all about Gordon Ramsay's excesses vis-à-vis kitchen staff but... perhaps that is the price of greatness?

Oh well... while greatness is good and everything, I think I would rather try to be a nice person.

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