This scenario, pretty much every nasty behavior described in the Isaacson biography, the recent salary-fixing emails - I've witnessed them all repeated.
It might seem crazy to entertain, but having seen first-hand that these folks can consistently climb and succeed while being what most decent people would consider scumbags - I have to wonder if Steve was just alpha-scum in the right place at the right time.
We exchanged phone numbers and shook hands on a "deal" - no money involved yet but it just seemed like an interesting side project to do for the fun of it.
Steve called me back a couple of days later and chewed me out: "Mike, I've thought about this, and I've decided you couldn't possibly do this project. This is a microcomputer. It's nothing at all like the mainframes you've worked with. It's completely different, and you couldn't possibly do this project. So forget it."
I tried to persuade him that my eight years of experience in machine language programming in a variety of architectures just might mean that I could tackle a simple instruction set like the 6502. But no, he knew I simply couldn't do it.
Of course he wasn't a programmer and had no idea. But he did know for certain that a mainframe programmer like me couldn't possibly understand microcomputers.
The sad part for me (besides the possible billions of dollars I might have made!) is that I didn't get a chance to meet Woz before Steve dissed me. A few friends have told me that we probably would have gotten along famously - if I could have somehow gotten past the doorkeeper. But so it goes; you can't second-guess history.
I told a longer version of this story, with a few links to interesting stuff from the old days, here:
When I was calmed down enough, I'd have been like, "Well, Steve, I was just reading through the instruction set, interesting how it does X, Y, Z, seems like that would make it easy for it to do that thing you said wanted in a disassembler, I was just about to borrow a little simulator time to test out my theories, knock up a quick and dirty proof of concept, but since it looks like you think I can't do it, I'll just go ahead and toss these pages of notes I wrote up away because they're obviously useless." Then shut up and wait for him to crack. You have to talk to people in a language they understand.
Instead, after we got off the phone, I went ahead and wrote enough of the disassembler to have a good proof of concept. Then, since the phone call with Steve hadn't gone so well, I decided to go show him the code in person.
I looked up the address of Apple Computer - 770 Welch Road in Palo Alto - and dropped in to show Steve the code. When I walked in I didn't see anything computer-related, just a row of telephone switchboards.
I told the nearest operator that I was looking for Apple Computer. She hesitated a bit and said "uh, this is their answering service."
So I walked out and told myself, "Those guys are flakes. They're never going to make it."
I think I like your idea better! :-)
edit: I just remembered a strange coincidence. I was reading Michael Moritz's Return to the Little Kingdom last year and ran across this:
> At first there was great uncertainty at the Regis McKenna Agency about Apple’s prospects. The account executive, Frank Burge, explained, “People who knew Markkula and Apple wondered whether they would make it. We kept saying ‘These guys are flakes. They’re never going to make it.’”
But of course nobody expects an answering service in place of the real thing.
Who wins there exactly?
I actually would have given Steve the disassembler for free, just to see where it might lead. It wasn't that much work, not much more than some of the coding tests companies ask for these days.
Or maybe I would have asked for a few hundred bucks. Not much difference one way or the other.
Suppose Steve then asked me to join up with him and Woz. I'd just read some crazy business book that said people shouldn't have stock in companies because you can't really influence the outcome of the whole company. Instead you should just get paid what you're worth, and the best way to do that was to be a contractor instead of an employee.
How exciting that would have been - I could have been Apple's first contractor!
Oh man, if only you'd have read about Standard Oil.
Back in Rockefeller's day, there was this event that was later called the "Cleveland Massacre". John was borrowing enormous sums of cash and buying out local refiners.
He had this routine. You'd get invited to sit down with him at his office, he'd have his checkbook with him. Very cool and refined-like, he told you you'd have no chance remaining in business and you had two choices, sell to him or get crushed. You could choose a check or stock in Standard Oil. "I suggest you take the stock."
Anyone who took stock at that time and held onto it would have gotten wildly rich. Most of them didn't. John had to scramble to ensure he kept enough cash on hand to continue his shopping spree. He had an unusual relationship with banks, they trusted him and were willing to extend credit to him that they wouldn't to anyone else. It wound up being his biggest trump card in those early days.
And you also now have something that somebody wanted, so there's a good bet someone else wanted it too. You don't have to sell to Jobs to get paid. Just sell it to someone else.
Writing a disassembler at that time would have been trivial in comparison.
I don't know if this is what would happen. We don't know whether Jobs believed what he was saying about the fellow who programmed mainframes. But I suspect that Jobs was also playing upon the fellow's desire to do the project in order to better his own bargaining position.
There was some evidence for his position if you knew anything about the computing culture in the Cupertino area in those days, especially at Tymshare where I was working at the time.
Tymshare had a profitable business going, selling dial-up access to their mainframes for $30/hour. They knew about these newfangled microcomputers, but one thing they definitely knew was that they didn't want to get involved in them. Because if they did, the microcomputers could turn into a threat to their mainframe business.
And you know, it turned out they were right! The microcomputers were a threat to their business, but they didn't get in on it.
Tymshare wasn't the only company like this. There were several little timesharing companies in the Bay Area, and they all must have looked like dinosaurs to anyone who was playing around with microprocessors.
I had told Steve in our first conversation that I was working at Tymshare, so really the most straightforward explanation is not that he was negotiating, but that he thought I was just one of those dinosaurs.
I've bumped into him once or twice over the years, most recently at the Homebrew Computer Club reunion, where he gave a great talk full of enthusiasm.
Woz was a breath of fresh air after Ted Nelson's keynote-of-sorts, which was interesting enough but so sad and bitter! (Anyone who was there will know what I'm talking about.) I suppose I can relate to that, as someone who's never had the kind of success I could have imagined for myself.
But Woz reminded me that no matter what happens in your life, stay cheerful and enthusiastic and never let yourself become a bitter old person.
Fortunately, Woz had me walking out in high spirits. Woz is an awesome, awesome engineer and creator for all engineers and creators everywhere.
I am trying to find a way to go meet up with that Wizard Woz myself right now, since I didn't get a chance to talk to him at the reunion.
They think they know the best way to do something, not realizing the fact that as someone creating the code, you have probably seen similar problems numerous times, and have a far better way of solving the problem.
If you are working at a very high level of abstraction (compilers, programming languages, protocols), there is infinite potential for your work, and its purpose is going to be determined by the principles of its users. Their principles may be different from your own, possibly even evil.
I do think standing for principles that are for the good of humanity is something worth doing as an individual, regardless of the technological abstraction you work on. And if you can build or promote your technology using those principles, then the both will be stronger for it.
In the short term, luck can make anyone look like a fool or a genius, even though the reality is usually somewhere in between. However, Steve was highly successful over a number of decades. He ultimately created one of the most valuable enterprises in the history of the world. It seems that he was an unrepentant asshole, but I don't think that all of his success came down to just being in the right place at the right time.
Nearly everyone I've observed with long-term "luck" has been mostly successful at recognizing and acting on opportunities.
The a-hole contingent merely has another tool to widen the funnel of opportunities. By eliminating compromise and being willing to divest others of their benefits, one can increase the likelihood of eventual success.
It just takes timing to stumble on one gold-making opportunity. It takes an approach to repeat it with consistency.
I had a conversation with a drill instructor who encapsulated (hah) the role by asking if I thought he really had that level of anger over untied bootlaces.
Many a-holes use every opportunity to send the message that not following their way will lead to dire consequences. It doesn't have to appear rational in the moment, but it is generally intended to achieve end results that the a-hole is unwilling to communicate.
Again relating this more to what I've experienced than any desire to try and peg exactly what Jobs was or wasn't - I don't think these people are living on luck. I think it's quite the opposite, they're absolutely deliberate in siphoning the talents everyone in their sphere of influence to their own ends. Like other comment here laid out so clearly they're able to take maximum personal advantage of every opportunity.
What being in the right place at the right time would do is present historically unique opportunities and possibly people to pursue/exploit, leading to a bigger sphere encompassing more opportunities.
One of my best friends is a psychiatrist at a large academic hospital. He works with "corporate leaders" and top athletes (college level and above). He says in his 5 years of practice, he has not yet seen a "successful" person who does not exhibit a significant degree of sociopathic behavior. He goes as far as saying that being sociopathic is an asset if you are trying to be successful in any hyper competitive human endeavor (politics, business, sports etc).
 No judgement on him because not everyone can pull off a Microsoft.
But thanks for the link though, I'll check it out. I must've suppressed all my Gates-criticism for all the good he's doing now.
He had marketing brilliance, and was a trend-setting and trend-guesser. But he didn't truly change the world. He didn't better our lives. He (Apple) produce(s) high quality, high price hardware. Simple as that. But in America, right now, we measure wealth to be greatness. It's sad really. Wealth means nothing unless you spread it around. Which Job's never did. As a rule.
Steve Jobs was not a generous man. Not at all. And he also wasn't a kind man. Maybe to his family and close friends - the personal Steve Jobs - I don't know. But everyone else was a tool to be used. Even Woz. Hell, especially Woz.
Despite us turning him into a Saint, in 100 years he'll be forgotten. Bill Gates might not be though.
I don't really move in those circles though, so it's not like the people I do know are necessarily representative.
Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work - http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0061147893?pc_redir=1395239748...
This is such a weak argument, you can subscribe some sociopathic behavious to any regular person if you want.
No they can't. Psychiatric opinions are too mailable. It's not an easy assessment like diagnosing someone else's professional qualifications in a field unrelated to yours using a 2nd hand anecdote posted on the Internet. Now there's an analysis you can take to the bank.
Their opinions seem to carry weight in courts. I'm not saying that is evidence, but that could be an indicator that psychiatrists might know what they're talking about (and its not just voodoo science).
1. This approach only amplifies whatever ideas you feed it. With the right vision behind it, you may end up becoming a force to be reckoned with. And people will endure your tantrums because you deliver them success.
2. But if your contributions aren't good—really, really good—this will only amplify your failure. And no one will endure you.
3. Most importantly, being an asshole may help great ideas get powered through, but it's not the only way. The people I most admire have found success while still being amazing human beings to work beside.
Eighty-five percent???? That would in fact be ridiculous, right?
This is the usual double-standard trope about Jobs/Apple. What's normal and even admirable business practice for a startup -- negotiating a fair deal -- is cast as evil and nefarious when it's Steve Jobs.
When was the last time you heard WhatsApp leadership referred to as "assholes" because they negotiated a high valuation? How about Instagram? Or any other startup that negotiated for a high valuation / better deal?
And let's keep something in perspective: Jobs/NeXT owned the IP in question.
How the heck does negotiating for 50% share of IP you're licensing to someone else to sell and support constitute being an "asshole"?
(Granted, tearing up the contract was a bit theatrical.)
Honestly, as the owner of the IP, I would much rather have 15% of gross receipts than 50% of net. Taking a cut of net just encourages the publisher to beef up their costs, which are difficult for you to precisely track.
I've had to negotiate these in the past - and the "rational" approach, in which you sit across from a lawyer, and walk down the various details (usually it's a staged agreement, with certain levels of return for certain levels of sales) - can be painful. I'm not saying that I would enjoy Steve's hysterics, but, it would be refreshingly to the point.
A Lot of Steve Jobs success came from him eliminating the days, weeks, hell months of guidance/direction/management, and just saying let's get this f#%$cking thing done.
It might not be pretty, you really don't like the person doing it - but it can be effective. Alternatively, it can also be incredibly destructive. Very fine line to walk.
Quick search brings up this study, "PROFITABILITY AND ROYALTY RATES ACROSS INDUSTRIES: SOME PRELIMINARY EVIDENCE": "For software and content licensing, it could be as high as 50%"... "defined as a fixed percentage rate of sales" 
Which would make Jobs' ask more typical.
[Edit: on second look I think the paper's 50% figure may refer to gross margins not receipts.. but anyway, that would still cast the final deal as a completely typical software deal.]
1980's software distribution was as complicated as making a manufacturing physical product. There was the manufacturing cost of the diskettes, packaging, manuals, telephone support, and marketing. Guess wrong about sales and you have a lot of worthless SKUs on you hand.
So yes, as I recall from being a software developer back then, 15% seems about right.
I.E. They'd receive a hairy-ball-of-code and have to provide a soup-nuts package to customers, including bug-fixes, phone-support, etc... in return for the 85%.
Luckily, it would appear that Tim Cook is not one of the people who believe this, from what I can tell.
Unless we are only scoping the discussion to "a-hole being successful in business founding".
That wasnt enough to keep me from throwing the book in the trash, however.
Also of note: http://www.kevinoleary.com/kevin-oleary-steve-jobs-was-the-t...
Wozniak on Jobs:
I was inspired by Stanford intellectuals like
Jim Warren talking this way at the club. Lee
Felsenstein wanted computers to help in things
like the antiwar marches he'd orchestrated in
Oakland and I was inspired by the fact that
these machines could help stop wars. Others in
the club had working models of this computer
before Jobs knew it existed. He came down one
week and I took him to show him the club, not
the reverse. He saw it as a businessman. It as
I who told Jobs the good things these machines
could do for humanity, not the reverse. I
begged Steve that we donate the first Apple I
to a woman who took computers into elementary
schools but he made me buy it and donate it
However I agree with first part of what toddmorey has said below:
3. Most importantly, being an asshole may help
great ideas get powered through, but it's not
the only way.
The people I most admire have found
success while still being amazing human beings
to work beside.
I think we should stop telling kids that life rewards the passionate and the
skilled. By rewards I certainly do not mean some inner calm or contentment
coming from indulging in what you love.
I mean the conventional rewards of recognition, admiration and remuneration.
Life is rigged in favor of the opportunists.
The schemers, hustlers and the witty-talkers.
But certainly not the plainspoken and the adept.
This is what many kids who have grown up on the stories of Steve Jobs and the valley lore surrounding many other iconic founders, will take away as their
They will grow up thinking, "Life rewards the unabashedly ravenous, merciless and ruthless blokes among us. Life does not spare the dignified, the pleasant or the mild-mannered."
There is nothing to suggest otherwise.
No matter how you dice it, your conscience tells you that this is more
than a bit disenchanting if not unfair.
Funnily enough, the story still shows him as capricious and stupid. She pretty much gave him the same contract, he looks for 50%, he approves it. Genius businessman.
You have to keep in mind what Jobs is trying to accomplish here. It's like a kid loudly putting stuff away when their mom walks by, "yea mom, just cleaning my room!"
The ruthless part is that Jobs would have no problem if she didn't pick up on that and came back with the same contract and the 50% rate. I think that the lessons in this post are valuable for negotiating with intelligent people.
Well ... he was.
> I don't know much about the man, but what he's doing here is intelligent negotiation, plain and simple.
Jobs had the destructive habit of tearing people down for no reason, preventing them from liking either themselves or him. I knew him personally and I saw this behavior any number of times, behavior that had no possible positive outcome.
In this case, Jobs could simply have said, "This is completely unacceptable, but I'm sure you'll find a way to meet my legitimate requirements. I'm available next Thursday if you think we can come to an agreement." You know -- like a normal person.
In the Isaacson book, Jobs is accurately described as a clinical narcissist, and I can confirm than from personal experience.
To those who think Jobs accomplished what he did because of his behavior, I say he accomplished what he did in spite of his behavior. Obviously we will never know, this cannot be science, but Jobs went through life burning everyone down, filtering out everyone who wasn't a born narcissistic enabler.
Well it did have a positive outcome for Steve and the users of his products though. It obviously didn't have a positive outcome for any of the recipients.
"In this case, Jobs could simply have said, "This is completely unacceptable, but I'm sure you'll find a way to meet my legitimate requirements. I'm available next Thursday if you think we can come to an agreement." You know -- like a normal person."
Are you saying "normal person" or "normal businessperson"? Forgetting for a second whether it even matters different people have different styles. What works for one person may not work for someone else.
Business is a game. This is the way Steve played the game. I've been in business for a long long time. Specifically involved in many negotiations. I've see many of these games. And I would have smelled it a mile away. And acted accordingly to my advantage. Not only that but there is opportunity with "assholes" like Steve. Because he turns people off the ones that can take the punishment (and deliver) stand to gain greatly. In the game of business that is. Which is what it is.
Do you mean that there instances where he really listened or liked/respected/etc someone because they had similar narcissistic tendencies? I was under the impression that people like him tend to hate people like themselves -- a narcissist who thinks he's the best is at greatest odds with another narcissist who thinks he's the best.
Only if both have very literal, wide-reaching interpretations of 'the best'.
Arrogance and narcissism are often contextual, and I've met many self-absorbed, but ultimately capable people who value a similar imbalance in others.
Who am I kidding, I'm talking about myself.
Narcissists and enablers aren't the same personality type, even though one can become the other over time. More here:
What's really interesting is that you chose to single out the iPhone holdout camp in a discussion about whether or not Jobs was a narcissist. Those two groups are so disparate it's borders on entirely irrelevant to the conversation.
Nevermind, I lied for affect. It's not actually interesting either. You're so invested in your phone as a status symbol that you perceive an unflattering analysis of it's creator as an attack and lash out against people that don't value your status symbol.
As I said, it's easy to find narcissism.
I'm not invested in my phone as a status symbol at all. I'm not sure where you got that from. I'm actually quite uninterested in status symbols, since I don't socialize much outside a fixed group of people, and least of all my phone, which currently has a bunch of cracks at the bottom of the screen from an early drop. I don't have much opportunity to use it for signalling. I'd say I use vocabulary and phrasing for general social signalling, and otherwise I prefer unbranded products. The fact that the Nexus line doesn't have any brand names on the front of the devices appeals to me, but not because it means they're Nexus devices, but rather that I am less of a walking billboard.
The connection I saw was that Apple seems to make products that have particular affinity for narcissists - they make products that, for the people who choose them, think they are choosing something excellent, something that makes them feel good about themselves. More than that, they think it represents a kind of excellence that makes them superior in taste and lifestyle to own.
I wouldn't be surprised if many Apple products were specifically designed to appeal to narcissists. It would explain a lot of common personality traits in their owners.
PS: I don't know what an Americanized lifestyle is either. There's not a lot in common between the lifestyle I had when I worked in Scotts Valley and the lifestyle I have here in London.
The lesson in this post is "Have someone who works closely with the person you're negotiating with, who is willing to chase after you and tell you how to get around such a silly restriction". If the author didn't have the information that that was specifically what Jobs was looking for, then (in a slightly different world) she could have returned with exactly the same contract as she did, but Jobs may instead have taken extreme offense that she was fiddling the numbers, and that he meant 'actually 50%'.
Most hagglers see this whole process as coming to an agreed percentage ("no, how about 20? 25? 25 and a free holiday?"), not "cook the numbers so that the same amount of money has a cosmetically different appearance". You start with a ridiculous number and work your way to something reasonable-but-favourable. Hagglers generally don't start with a ridiculous number and peacock about getting it even through a lie.
Also, being intelligent (as the layman defines it) does not mean you're a shrewd negotiator and vice versa. There are plenty of successful businesspeople with shrewd negotiation skills that don't even understand the basics of their own business.
You are right based on my many many years negotiating.
Noting also that Steve used this with Heidi Roizen.
While he may have also used it with a "Carl Icahn" (someone like Carl, not Carl) I somehow doubt it. It's pure bluster and it telegraphs a lot. 
One more important point (perhaps someone else has mentioned this). The "friend" could have been part of the act. Quite possibly. Negotiating is part acting and role playing (at least the way I have seen it done and practice myself). As a result it's similar to when the government doesn't officially release info but manages to get someone to "off record" to get something in the press. They call it "absence of malice" or similar (I think don't remember the exact phrase..)
 I've had cases negotiating where I know in advance that I will shake my head up and down "no" even if the number is good just to send a message.
You say this, and then you say a bunch of fancy words that boil down to "he's an asshole."
I feel like this is a big part of the problem with...hell, with capitalism and corporatism in general. You people have gotten the idea that being an asshole doesn't count as being an asshole if you GET RESULTS. No, that's not right. An asshole who gets results is still just an asshole. That's not a good thing.
Yes, because he didn't bother to explain them. He could have been the one to explain the need for the magic 50% - just think how that could have made their meeting productive and useful - but he didn't. It was only through her contact that this was discovered. Basically, Steve Jobs was being an asshole.
In other words, Steve's behavior was at least in part a performance intended to to demonstrate that he was holding up his end of the deal he had made with the developers.
[Of course, the manner he did it in was obviously still pretty obnoxious—he could easily have been much more gracious while still insisting on that number. I'm just saying there did seem to be a concrete reason underlying his actions, it wasn't just him being a jerk... ^^; ]
Problem is, that's exactly what Apple needed to deal with the music industry and exactly what it needed to deal with the wireless industry and exactly what it needs now to deal with the cable industry.
Except... he's not here to fight the good fight against the cable industry, and based on the rumors I've heard Apple is having troubles nailing down good terms with the content providers.
>Understand the needs of the other person
Is a really important part of negotiation. Nothing to do with Jobs specifically. Don't assume that needs and desires are symmetrical in a negotiation. Sometimes they basically are. But when they aren't, it opens the possibility for win-win scenarios.
And oldies but goodie (and short) book, "Getting to Yes" talks about this. Well worth the read. (And, when I say short, I really do mean very short.)
That said, in my experience, you'll get WAY more out of people if you treat everyone with respect if and until they do something to cause you to lose that respect. And even then you're better off having a polite but firm attitude.
It can be difficult to understand your negotiating partner's reasons but having an ally sure helped in this case.
i know a dev at a startup who was employee number 2 and wanted a certain % of the company ( like 2 or 5 or something like that ). anyhoo, he was haggling with the founder about this and the founder didnt want to give him what he wanted but finally relented. later, when signing paperwork, he found that the % the founder relented to was actually a % of a newly created employee pool, and not the whole company.
needless to say, the dev was pissed and had little trust in the relationship from that point forward.
That being said however, I do see this behavior creeping even into settings where I didn't notice it 2-3 decades ago. This tactic only works as long as there is some sink to offload the negative externalities to; that is, everyone else who does not negotiate this way. Developers who are made aware of this "negotiation" style on the other side should make every requirement request an adversarial minimax engagement where they seek to do the least amount of coding for the most profit.
Even today, if you pull similar stunts during negotiations where you perform Clintonian-grade-gyrations through the attorneys, or even more minor shady acts, in my small part of the industry people remember that for a long, LONG time. Word gets around. It follows you from employer to employer now, with the better sales tracking we have these days. And where other customers get cut a lot of slack just for being nice, you're going to be fighting for every micrometer of delivered support. Just because once you set a precedent, no one will to want to get caught on the other side of one of your "gotchas". Good on ya if you have the energy for doing that all the time, but I'd rather be using the time more productively myself.
Coase's theory of the firm and its subsequent expansions by other researchers would find that when everyone engages in this style of negotiation, transactional costs skyrocket. I've had one customer who was particularly enthusiastic about this style of dealing with vendors. We dumped that account onto a competitor.
We're talking about something different here - a potential hire joining a company and asking for "X% of the company". If the company agrees to this, then the legal document better not say you got X% of the employee option pool. That kind of shit is obviously going to ruin your employee's trust, because it's extremely fucking shady. I would immediately get the impression that the company/founders are big scammers.
It's obvious he was verbally and emotionally abusive person and he was generally an all-around asshole, but I've never heard of him getting physical, and that sort of surprises me.
Make them feel like they're right and make them feel like they always get exactly what they want.
I read the headline and thought, "that he's an asshole?"
Then I read the article. I was right!
Robert Ringer has some pretty apt descriptions of this type & how to deal with them in a couple of his more popular books.
Presumably the number was "important" in an absolute sense because a number that high represented a fair amount of money, or at least taking margin from the publisher, because of the super-high quality of the software (remember, he made the promise trying to flatter the development team). Instead, the deal was structured strictly worse (less transparent revenue stream, same amount of money - and I'd be surprised if it was actually the same amount of money). Because he made a grand gesture as a status move, first to his team, and then to his vendors.
There's no way in which "make an outrageous promise, make an outrageous demand to fulfil that promise, accept a strictly worse settlement that saves face" reflects well on his end of the negotiation.
"He wanted to be able to tell everyone he got what he wanted."
No one is perfect.
It's now new for me -- I've been saying it for years. After a brief exposure to Jobs in the late 1970s when Apple was a new company, I refused to work with him thereafter. I turned down a number of job offers from Apple over the years because I knew I would have to work with Jobs, or near him, or some approximation thereof. Unacceptable.
Some people found it possible to work with him, but IMHO that marked them as born narcissistic enablers.
I just find it a bit annoying how people that never met him find it cool to dog him. I've found that among people that actually met him they either looked up to him and saw him as a bold and charismatic character or they hated him with a passion.
That's a common description of how people react to a narcissist. Consider Jim Jones (the French Guyana Jim Jones, the poisoned Kool-Aid Jim Jones) -- his followers thought he was the greatest, and it seemed as though they would die for him. Oh, wait, they did die for him. But others saw him as dangerous.
Consider David Koresh. Same blind devotion among his followers and complete disgust elsewhere.
My point is that a narcissistic enabler is as deeply twisted as a narcissist, but with a different focus.
More here: http://arachnoid.com/ChildrenOfNarcissus
However, for this particular story? I honestly would have loved to work with/for someone who would just cut the bullshit, stop with the nice words, and just tell you exactly where you stand. If that means tearing up a contract and swearing at me, that sounds wonderful - it would not hurt my feelings in the least. If it did, I'd quickly get over it unless it was obviously personal vs. business.
Can that be done without being an asshole? Yes, of course. However, I haven't really seen it in action. I've generally either been around 'assholes' who seem to get things done via a blunt style I enjoy, or 'nice guys' who get steamrolled and thus churn out a shit product as they are more concerned with feelings than results.
I don't need to talk to an asshole personally to know that they're an asshole. If it quacks like a duck...etc.
It's not a binary thing, it's a spectrum. I don't have any first-hand knowledge that black holes exist, but there's a great deal of evidence that pushes me into the "95% sure they exist" column.
Similarly if multiple people tell me someone is an asshole, that pushes my needle on the spectrum to "66% sure this person is an asshole."
You can, and should, maintain skepticism about any conclusions you draw. But that doesn't mean you can't draw conclusions at all until you verify the information yourself and are 99% sure of something.
Maybe that's true? When he passed away there was a lot of press about him for a while, not to mention the Isaacson book and the movie(s). So maybe this really is just a bunch of college-age or younger people who just read the Isaacson book, and the #1 shocker to them was, "OMG guys, Jobs was an asshole and Woz is so nice! I had no idea!"
It's kind of annoying because, well, everyone already knew that so who cares, and I think what's really interesting about Jobs and Woz aren't those qualities but their accomplishments and philosophies. So many comments on places like HN are so binary and reductive, ignoring the actual enlightening things that can be learned from studying and thinking about the decisions that Jobs made (good and bad).
I don't think there's as much to learn from Woz as far as succeeding in the tech industry goes, but he's a great example of someone succeeding in life. Woz is absolutely someone to be emulated in terms of his fundamental decency, enthusiasm, interests and generosity, just not necessarily his business leadership (which he would probably agree with).
Out of curiosity, is there an example contract text that demonstrates how to do this? Is it as simple as saying "You get 50% of the gross, but I'll deduct this, this and that from your share"?