from the job-creation dept.
Joe Nocera writes in The New York Times that a forthcoming biography “Becoming Steve Jobs,” is leading readers to re-evaluate the “stagnant stereotypes” of Jobs that have only grown stronger after his death. According to the stereotypes, “Steve was a genius with a flair for design,” whose powers of persuasion were such that he could convince people that the sun rose in the west and set in the east. On the other hand, he was also “a pompous jerk,” who humiliated employees and “disregarded everyone else in his single-minded pursuit of perfection.”
It is Schlender’s and Tetzeli’s contention that Jobs was a far more complex and interesting man than the stereotype, and a good part of their book is an attempt to craft a more rounded portrait. According to Nocera the callow, impetuous, arrogant youth who co-founded Apple was very different from the mature and thoughtful man who returned to his struggling creation and turned it into a company that made breathtaking products while becoming the dominant technology company of our time.
How did a young man so reckless and arrogant that he was exiled from the company he founded become the most effective visionary business leader of our time, ultimately transforming the daily life of billions of people? For Schlender and Tetzeli, the crucial period was the most overlooked part of Jobs’s career: The years from 1985 to 1997, when he was in exile from Apple and running NeXT. Equally important, Jobs also owned Pixar, the animation studio he bought from George Lucas. It took years before Pixar came out with its first full-length movie, “Toy Story.” During that time, Jobs saw how Ed Catmull, Pixar’s president, managed the company’s creative talent. Catmull taught Jobs how to manage employees.
"When Jobs returned to Apple, he was more patient — with people and with products. His charisma still drew people to him, but he no longer drove them away with his abrasive behavior and impossible demands. He had also learned that his ideas weren’t always the right ones, and he needed to listen to others." Perhaps the most important example of this was the App Store. Jobs had initially opposed allowing outside developers to build apps for the iPhone, but he did a quick about-face once he realized he was wrong. "Jobs has long been hailed as one of the great creative minds of modern business," concludes Nocera. "He was [also] a great manager. You can’t build a great company if you aren’t one."