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Tech Lead Journal

67 EpisodesProduced by Henry SuryawirawanWebsite

Great technical leadership requires more than just great coding skills. It requires a variety of other skills that are not well-defined, and they are not something that we can fully learn in any school or book. Hear from experienced technical leaders sharing their journey and philosophy for building… read more


#20 - Building Products People Love—Lessons from Decades at Apple and Adobe - Arno Gourdol

“The most important thing we can do in order to get whatever success we want—build the best product you can. Invest all your energy in making the product absolutely best that you can think of. If you really focus on building an absolutely best product possible, everything else will follow."

Arno is an inspiring tech leader with decades of experience in two major creative companies—Apple and Adobe. I’m honored to have him sharing his career journey and passion in this episode. Arno shared his amazing start of his career at Apple, especially when Steve Jobs came back and led the company back to focus, which was the key success factor that brought Apple to where it is today. The entire company had to adapt to Steve Jobs’s new ways of working and to work in an iterative fast paced approach, at the time when Agile was not yet widely known, including how Arno led a complete rewrite of the macOS Finder. Then Arno shared his next illustrious career at Adobe, where he had the opportunities to explore different projects and establish his engineering leadership skills. Arno led an audacious move when he proposed Adobe to open source XMP, a bold action when open sourcing wasn’t common back then. He also shared his lessons in dealing with halted projects, and the perspective that we should embrace when that happens. Arno then shared his invaluable wisdom on how to build products that people love and what to focus on in order to create successful products. Right at the end, Arno shared with me what made him decide to end his career and pursue the things he is truly passionate about.

Listen out for:

  • Arno’s career start - [00:08:07]
  • Journey at Apple - [00:11:44]
  • Steve Jobs impact - [00:14:17]
  • Apple’s key success factor - [00:19:08]
  • Working in agile manner - [00:20:40]
  • Building without clear direction - [00:24:38]
  • Tips when revamping product - [00:26:53]
  • How to decide a technical rewrite - [00:30:36]
  • Journey at Adobe - [00:33:00]
  • Contributing to open source - [00:37:18]
  • Dealing with canceled projects - [00:40:33]
  • Director of products - [00:43:56]
  • Building products people love - [00:45:36]
  • Arno’s 3 Tech Lead Wisdom - [00:47:42]
  • Why Arno decided to pursue his passion - [00:53:09]


Arno Gourdol’s Bio
After a tech career at Adobe and Apple, Arno now travels around the world to capture beautiful landscapes with his camera—living life to the fullest spending time on things he is passionate about. Arno is also an active contributor to some open source projects that he is passionate about.

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