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).