It’s the parts about how Steve conducts reviews. I feel like too many people beat around the bush, when asked a question they get flustered and make stuff up. I actually kinda enjoy being put on the spot. Say I don’t have an answer or give my personal opinion, or be open and honest, or have to come up with ideas and such. I don’t get flustered or bothered if I’m yelled at. I’ve had bosses that I think are worse than what Steve is sometimes described as. But damn if I haven’t enjoyed those reviews or design sessions.
The day he handed back one of my photographs and said "Congratulations, you're now a photographer's arsehole" was a good one.
Apparently Jobs asked how the IE bookmarks bar looked and this guy googled an image. And this was one of the must harrowing but ultimately triumphant moments of his life.
> And when you can get the time for thoughtful reflection on your idea from a visionary like Steve — well, that’s a good day.
Being humble is one thing, but forcing yourself into this kind of fawning emotional servility feels dangerous to me. He was smart; he was lucky; he was a human, like anyone else. I don't think this level of hierarchy is something that I would seek to build at any of my startups, or would hope to support in a startup that I invested in or advised. It just feels unhealthy to me.
1. Steve Jobs was a couple of standard deviations better at this than almost anyone
2. As such, people were glad to get feedback from him
3. Such ability is rare and hard to identify, and so trying to replicate that structure is nonetheless not a sensible idea.
In other words, you're correct in your business practices, but possibly blinded to the fact that Steve actually was very, very good.
It's not particularly rare to have a decent sense of design, but it's rare for someone with a decent sense of design to be in a position to have the final say on mass-produced tech products. Especially true of the 90s and early 00s when Apple was making huge waves.
He was also a dick to a lot of people and petulant if he didn't get his way.
None of this stuff is mutually exclusive.
Also, not only is this stuff mutually exclusive, but I think it is also (mostly) orthogonal. I get aggravated when I see or hear folks trying to emulate Steve Jobs' management style and they seem to focus on the asshole part but don't necessarily realize they're missing the genius part (see Elizabeth Holmes).
I'm confident he had good ideas. I'm also confident he had plenty of horrible ideas... Just like most intelligent humans.
It served its purpose: It introduced millions of people to taking notes on a portable electronic device by making the use of the device familiar and welcoming.
Remember, this is at a time when people had to be taught how to "swipe to open," how to scroll on a touch screen, and how to pinch to zoom. All of this was unfamiliar territory to the masses.
If the iPhone's initial operating system looked like Android's current design, it would have been much harder to get people on board.
(I still have my launch day iPhone. I fired it up a couple of weeks ago, and aside from the horrible pre-retina screen resolution, it was very familiar and comforting.)
... as you walk along you path you meet a man. 50% if the time he tells you sage advice that makes you a multimillionaire and 50% of the time he tells you sage advice that doesn’t make you richer. What do you value the mans afvice as?
It’s not a cult or a conspiracy when what the other part is selling actually materializes.
I agree. My older relatives also have much harder times figuring out where to touch since the fully drawn buttons are replaced by just a text.
Is this objectively worse than the current practice of removing or hiding every visual cue and affordance, leaving the user to guess what they're supposed to be doing?
People were being introduced to wildly new concepts and it served to anchor people in familiarity.
Today, it's not as useful of an anchor for obvious reasons. Mobile phones and touch interfaces are ubiquitous.
I feel old, but honestly this was just, what? 10years ago?! does nobody remember how everyone in the entire mobile industry proclaimed Apple would fails because touch interfaces weren’t tactile. yet today every single phone is basically a copy of the first iPhone just with better chips and random stylistic touches to differenciate?
I mean, you could point to the many products he was involved in, but there are a lot of subjective opinions there too.
Your comment gives the impression you've read none of this and only read meta-commentary. Or that you consider any person's story subjective and non-credible. In which case, what would you call a fact? The same standard would apply to any person.
(I wouldn't include the Isaacson bio, he regrettably focussed very little on Jobs' process.)
Haven't read it, but I've heard there is a section of Creativity Inc where Ed Catmull talks about working with Steve and how they operated.
Finally, there's a site that occasionally surfaces here which had stories from the original Mac team. Folklore.org I think? That was a more raw period with more of a mix of immaturity in there.
But all of those have a variety of firsthand accounts.
The Pixar stuff in there was really interesting. Creativity Inc has been on my reading list because of that book.
In my opinion they really moved the needle on ubiquitous computing for the masses, and did a great job on their first attempt.
The crucial thing is that "this" in this case is product management. I'm fine with Jobs being the Caesar Augustus of product; what bothers me is when he starts being touted as the Christ of Business.
However, the first question to ask yourself is whether you really have that talent. If no one at all offers to pay, you likely don't. I don't mean you're bad at advice, rather instead that you're just not earth shatteringly good at it. Lots of people are good at advice without being able to build a career specifically around that.
Oh also, to be a highly effective consultant other skills would be required too of course. Empathy, business thinking, etc.
Jobs was only able to build a career around it by building companies around him. That's one way, but not easy, and also he had other talents and compulsions and vices that made his path what it was.
This is a statistical oxymoron.
Ah well, no editing now, it's up for posterity.
I would still argue that Apple benefited tremendously from Jobs. How I would hypothesize the benefit came is that a product winds up being a sort-of "single thing", each part coming together to a single experience for the customer. It's a paradoxical situation because a technological device is produced by a series of experts in multiple fields and with so many people involved. In an average company, the unity of the experience tends to be lost in multiple bureaucratic exigencies.
Jobs was able to put together a single (fairly good) vision into a product by having an absolute dictatorship on over the creation process. Hyperbolic "couple of standard deviations" claims aren't necessary. Artistry still is often a matter of one person (or a very small number of people) conceiving a vision. So letting Jobs be the painter drawing with other people talents worked and was better than twenty hands at the paintbrush. But it had the problem that absolute authority can work out to being cultish and abusive. No sure if there's a solution here.
I think it’s a mistake to think that everyone in a company is on the same playing field, that everyone is equal (not on a human level, but a company level). Companies have leaders, and leaders are in charge. You either accept that and work for them, or you start your own company and you become the leader.
When you accept a job working for someone else, you also accept that you are not in charge.
Ironically, this attitude may have made you a good candidate to work at Apple.
There are many anecdotes about Steve being blunt with people, in an attempt to figure out who will be honest with him and who is just trying to kiss his ass. He wanted to work with the former, of course. And this is hinted at a little bit in the article.
Similar to you thought, to me the most egregious thing is to see startups in san francisco that do something small and things similar to serving mobile ads using the phrase "changing the world" and recruiters trying to project the founder as some kind of visionary. Sure he started the company and its still a small one, lets not get carried away.
And like nobody else, he was personally who made Apple, Macintosh, iPod and iPhone what they were.
In short, he many times proved to really be far from average.
Point being, most people at Apple probably considered Steve as a person.
Regarding the design review practices, that all sounds like good advice and rather normal when presenting to a time and attention limited audience.
Ah, an Overwatch player. This explains everything ;)
In all seriousness, WSL has improved A LOT and I use it frequently on my gaming PC so I don't have to pull out my MacBook. Performance is definitely a bit worse but I have a Ryzen 2700X and an NVMe drive, so it's still plenty quick enough despite the inefficiencies on the software side of things. I used to always dual boot Linux on my desktops, but I just don't have a need to do that anymore.
Sharing a human moment (being upset that a superior is sick) w/ a subordinate is off-limits?
People who don't regularly interact with them seem to act strange around them (which isn't that surprising if they're not seen that often and they're in charge), but the weirder thing to me is that all the supporting staff around the leader also acts strangely and seems to make it worse.
It reminds me of the story when Carmack had a demo and one of Jobs' support staff said they couldn't use it because "he doesn't like blood". When Jobs heard it was Carmack he said it was fine.
Something about it feels weird.
That seems less like the kind of "aura of reverence" you're talking about, and more like a respect for another creative person who makes carefully-considered choices (and perhaps a knowledge that most people in the audience for the demo know the artist and also respect them.)
Even if you don't agree with someone's tastes, if those tastes are a coherent part of a polished work, and you value the work itself, then you'll tend to let your aesthetic disagreement slide.
For a different concrete example: when the average movie director puts a weird sex thing in their movie, it sticks out in a way that makes you wonder whether they have a fetish and wanted to indulge it—and that breaks the verisimilitude of the work, lessening its impact. If, on the other hand, a director like David Lynch puts a weird sex thing in their movie, it's usually a critical element that fits the tone of the work, and doesn't break verisimilitude at all. It doesn't really matter whether David Lynch likes a given weird sex thing; it would still be a part of the work even if he didn't, because it belongs there.
Blood belongs in Carmack's games, in a way that means you'll tend to appreciate the bloodiness for its contribution to the overall tone of the game, even if you don't like blood.
I'm not sure if that's a thing with Jobs and people being afraid of him, but I've seen similar stuff where people around the person act like they're delicate or everything requires special consideration when interacting with the leader.
When I was preparing an early technology demo of Doom 3 for a keynote in Japan, I was having a hard time dealing with some of the managers involved that were insisting that I change the demo because “Steve doesn’t like blood.” I knew that Doom 3 wasn’t to his taste, but that wasn’t the point of doing the demo.
I brought it to Steve, with all the relevant people on the thread. He replied to everyone with:
“I trust you John, do whatever you think is great.”
Or to be more blunt, he knew Steve personally and you didn't. Just because you have never met someone who garnered that kind of reaction from you doesn't mean such people don't exist.
"When demoing something to Steve, you had to pace yourself. If Steve said, “Stop,” you fucking stopped. Hands down and waited. And you didn’t jiggle the cursor while he was looking at the screen. Certain death.
If he wanted to drive the demo machine then, by God, you let him drive.
And if your software crashed, you didn’t make excuses. You just made damn sure that particular scenario didn’t happen again. Ever."
> Or to be more blunt, he knew Steve personally and you didn't. Just because you have never met someone who garnered that kind of reaction from you doesn't mean such people don't exist.
I claim that no one (that I've known for a long time) would ever make me feel this way because I make a point to "kill my idols" as they say. The author of this post didn't do that and that's what I find annoying.
I don't want to compare Jobs to Hitler but when you read accounts from people who worked with Hitler they also had this sense of loyalty they couldn't overcome even while knowing that something was going wrong. Reagan may be another case.
Good, laser-focused, demanding.
He was a jerk. Especially the story about his daughter is plain evil. At some point you have to take responsibility for your actions.
Turns out there were plenty of people right there at Apple who fell under that same RDF.
People who don't want to be phished? People who don't have absolute trust that a hyperlink posted by some random schmuck on the internet won't take them somewhere they shouldn't go?
This sort of background mentality of "Make the happy path look slick, and if the happy path doesn't work for you, good luck," has always turned me off from Apple stuff. But, of course, I'm not the target audience.
Sure, nobody wants to get phished. But I don't know any non-tech users that pay attention to the status bar as a way to avoid it.
Also at that point in history phishing via fake urls was less of a problem - you could still trivially give the page a title (users only looked at the window title bar), and a copy of the verisign or thawte “secure page” graphic and you’d be set.
So you want to maintain dogmatic ideological views without subjecting yourself to an uncomfortable re-examining of how rose-tinted your glasses might have been?
I was immediately turned off by this, and had a hard time finishing the post after reading that. Sometimes admitting that your idols are flawed human beings, but often trying their best nevertheless, can end in a better appreciation of the person.
Why do you need the interpretation of people who weren't there, of events you have directly experienced yourself?