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Interview: Ken Segall

Peter Roper | Feb. 24, 2016
This wide-ranging interview with Ken Segall covers the insights on simplicity discovered while researching his second book and his concept of ‘dual DNA’ that stops simplicity being the default way of doing business… plus his thoughts on post-Jobs Apple and the rumoured car.

Ken Segall made his name as Steve Jobs' go-to ad man during the era from 'Think Different' to the iMac. He now flies the flag for simplicity in business by writing, speaking and consulting.

Segall's first book, Insanely Simple, covered his time working for Jobs and the lessons about simplicity instilled from the visionary leader. He also has a new book in the pipeline, also about simplicity in business, this time based on interviews with dozens of CEOs around the world.

This interview was conducted during one of Segall's visits to Melbourne as part of his work with Bank of Melbourne, which holds events with expert speakers to inspire and educate Victorian businesses.

Peter Roper: Last time we spoke you were working on the second book. How's that going?

Ken Segall: Right. It's been way too long actually. This took me a lot longer than I thought. The first book came out of my head, this one was the result of 40 interviews, ranging from an hour to more than an hour, and you get all the transcripts in, you've got to pull out the important points and try to assemble them into a story that makes sense. It was a lot more work than I expected it to be.

You must have some good insights after speaking to that many people. Who were the sort of people you spoke to?

It's an interesting mix. I'm very proud of the mix. There are some famous companies and somewhat famous people, to some start-ups, to some successful companies you wouldn't have heard of. I actually have a number in Australia, but in the US I have Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, I've talked to Jerry, so that was fun. I drove up to Vermont and spent a day with him.

Also - I'm not sure how well-known they are here - The Container Store and Whole Foods, which are very big deals in the US. And a little bit from IBM.

In Australia I have Brian Hartzer from Westpac, Scott Tanner from Bank of Melbourne, one of the executive team at Telstra. Then there's John McGrath, the real estate guy and Andrew Bassat, of Seek. Some interesting Australians.

Then I have a soft drink company from the Czech Republic and a credit card company from Seoul.

So there are some interesting, different countries and issues that were facing these companies, and these CEOs took action to simplify, and with great success. The idea of the book is that if your company is getting a bit bogged down, there is great inspiration to be found in what other people have done successfully. Even though some are big and small and new and old, they all have issues going that may or may not be similar to yours.


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